Braves trying to move forward after tragedy
Team thinking of families, witnesses day after fan falls to death at Turner Field
ATLANTA -- Flags flew at half-staff at Turner Field, and while the players, coaches and management did their best to go about their usual pregame routine, Sunday morning simply was unusual.
Everyone was still trying to make sense of the tragic death of 60-year-old Greg Murrey, the fan who fell to his death from the upper deck during the seventh inning of Saturday night's game between the Braves and the New York Yankees. It cast a pall on the Braves drawing a season-high crowd of 49,243.
"It's just sad," said Braves president John Schuerholz. "We're sort of all just dealing with the sadness and the tragedy of it for the gentleman's family and anybody who happened to witness it. It's difficult, and that's what our focus is right now. There are people trying to find out all of the circumstances and all the exact details of what happened, how it happened, but our focus is on trying to do everything we can to help the families deal with this as best as possible. Not only the family of the gentleman but others who witnessed or experienced it."
The Braves issued the following statement Sunday morning:
"The Atlanta Braves are deeply saddened by the loss of Greg Murrey at last night's game. Greg was a valued and longtime season ticket holder and an incredibly passionate Braves fan. This tragic loss is felt throughout Braves Country, and the thoughts and prayers of the entire Braves organization continue to go out to his family and friends."
They also recognized Murrey with a pregame moment of silence.
"Everybody's family that was here definitely experienced some part of it," said second baseman Jace Peterson, whose girlfriend was within 10 feet of the impact. "It's not good for anyone to see something like that. Continue to keep everyone's family that was in the vicinity in your thoughts and prayers is all you can do. At the end of the day it's a tragic thing. No kid or no woman, no one deserves to see something like that. It's just unfortunate."
Veteran Jonny Gomes was uncharacteristically, but understandably, speechless Sunday morning.
"There's nothing I can say that is going to make anything any better," he said.
"To be honest, I'm surprised we finished the game," said Peterson. "I thought we would at least pause it for a little bit. I wasn't sure what had happened. We came in after the game and got the news. It's an unfortunate situation, unfortunate for the family, and my thoughts and prayers go out to the family."
Schuerholz said that grief counselors were made available to the players, their friends and family.
"We have them, and players know that [grief counseling] is available if needed for their families or their friends that were here at the ballpark," he said. "I've talked to some players specifically about it who communicated with me. They're not troubled. They're not bothered, but they had friends here, they had people in the stands. I made a point to seek them out last night and talk to them. So it's paramount with us that we deal with this tragedy in the appropriate manner first."
The accident was the third death from a fall in the last eight years at Turner Field. Schuerholz said the tragedies are "not at all related, as disparate as they could be." One of the prior deaths was ruled a suicide, while the other was attributed to excessive alcohol. Fan safety, he said, is always the team's top priority.
"Obviously that's not something we're thinking about now, it's something we always think about," he said. "Something every Major League team thinks about at all times."