HOUSTON -- As he prepares for games, Astros hitting coach Troy Snitker routinely checks in with his twin nephews, Luke and Jude Goodman, via FaceTime.
These 6-year-old boys from suburban Atlanta love their Uncle Troy and he would do anything for them. Well, almost anything. He certainly won’t attempt to appease their most recent request.
“The boys are like, ‘Uncle Troy, you need to let grandpa win,’” Ronnie Snitker said early Sunday evening, as she prepared to travel to Houston for the start of a World Series that will pit her husband against her son.
Grandpa, of course, is Braves manager Brian Snitker, who is preparing for his first World Series, more than 40 years after beginning his coaching career in Atlanta’s organization. Troy got to experience his first Fall Classic in 2019, which was his first season as Houston’s hitting coach.
But nothing will compare to the pride and thrill the Snitkers will feel when the Braves and Astros begin the World Series on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.
“Getting to the World Series in ’19 was very special with that group of guys,” Troy Snitker said. “Regardless of who we’re playing, it’s going to be special again this time around. But to be able to go against your dad in the World Series? No matter how long I’m in this game, it’s something I don’t think I’m going to top. This is as special as it’s going to get for us.”
When the Astros won the American League pennant on Friday night, Troy called his parents, who offered congratulations and hope that this would indeed become a family affair. The Braves made it happen approximately 24 hours later, when they beat the Dodgers in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.
“The Snitkers are going to have a World Series trophy in their house here,” Brian Snitker said. “I don't know who is going to own it, but we're going to have one. So that's a pretty cool thing.”
Now the big question is, will Ronnie be rooting for her husband or her son?
“If you ask her that, she is going to cry,” Brian Snitker said.
“I don’t know if she is going to just clap anytime anything happens or cry,” Troy Snitker said. “My guess is [cry]. She’s going to be a mess.”
Well, the proud mother didn’t necessarily dispute what her husband and son said.
“I have nothing to base it on,” she said. “It’s not something that happens to people every day or very often at all, or ever. I don’t know how I’ll feel about the whole thing. It will be different because this time I’ll be going in with the Braves group. It’s different than when I went in there the last time as Troy’s mom.”
Really, the Braves are all the Snitkers have ever known. Brian Snitker was a backup Minor League catcher within the system before former farm director Hank Aaron politely suggested it was time for Snitker to start coaching. Ronnie raised their daughter, Erin, and Troy while spending summers in whatever Minor League town Brian was calling home that summer.
While serving as a batboy, clubhouse attendant or just eavesdropper, Troy learned the game, coaching and the value of communication from his father. He idolized Chipper Jones and played two seasons within the organization after being taken in the 19th round of the 2011 MLB Draft.
Yet, when it came time to enter the coaching world, Troy made it clear he didn’t want to work for the Braves or close family friend Dayton Moore and the Royals. He learned Spanish, landed a job with the Astros and began working his way up the ladder without any hint of nepotism or favoritism.
“I'm very proud of him,” Brian Snitker said. “He went about it the right way. He's always been just a really hard, dedicated worker. He got his foot in the door, like a lot of us have over the years.”
Diligence, determination and loyalty are all traits Troy has learned from the decades he spent with his dad at various levels throughout the baseball world. He celebrated Minor League championships with his father and proudly watched his dad serve as Atlanta’s third-base coach during the final four seasons of Bobby Cox’s Hall of Fame managerial career.
At the same time, Troy felt his father’s pain when the Braves demoted him to serve as Triple-A Gwinnett’s manager in 2013. Three years later, Brian would return to serve as Atlanta’s interim manager. The interim tag was removed, but the role remained the same for the only manager who has won a division title each of the past four seasons.
“It’s just been special the last five or six years when he’s been back in Atlanta as the manager,” Troy Snitker said. "I’m unbelievably proud of him to be able to take them back to their first World Series since 1999.”
Though each of them want to claim that World Series title this year, there will be an incredible sense of pride felt as they savor this unique father-son experience.
“I kind of feel validated by the fact that maybe I did something right, the way he turned out,” Brian Snitker said. “He's a heck of a young man and he does have a great work ethic, I know that.”