Slugger felt bad for snapping Braves fan's run 10 picks shy of winning $5.6 million
ATLANTA -- At the time, Justin Upton could not have fathomed how costly his 0-for-4 performance last Saturday against the Marlins was for one Braves fan. Upton's hitless night snapped Beat the Streak contestant Will Bryan's run at 47 correct selections, leaving the South Metro Atlanta resident and die-hard Braves fan 10 picks short of the $5.6 million grand prize.
Once he learned about the streak, Upton reached out to Bryan offering a pretty unique consolation prize, and on Friday afternoon, the two met in person in the Braves' dugout before the team's game against the Nationals.
"My girlfriend had been keeping up with it, and she went on to find out all the details and found out that Will had picked me," Upton said. "To be the one that broke the streak, I felt bad about it, so I thought it'd be cool with him being from the area and living in the area that we bring him out to a game and meet him."
Bryan, a 30-year-old police officer, brought along his wife, Kelli -- the couple went to a Braves game for their first date seven years ago -- and his young son, Grant, who could barely contain himself inside the Braves' dugout. After watching batting practice from the top step of the dugout, the three were greeted by Upton, who signed baseballs and a bat before playing a light game of catch with Grant and talking a little baseball with Will.
Though Bryan fell short in his bid to win the ultimate prize, he is in line to win the $10,000 prize that will be awarded to the BTS participant who compiles this season's longest streak. His 47-game streak is two games longer than any other compiled this year.
"I didn't know anything about any of the prizes other than if I got to 57, I got the $5.6 [million]," he said. "I didn't know until I got to 30 games about the free MLB.TV for a month and all of that. I didn't know anything about it."
Bryan did not seriously consider the idea of becoming the first Beat the Streak winner in the 13-year history of the game until his streak climbed into the 30s. His bold stretch of seven consecutive days of doubling down with two selections per day paid off, and Upton helped bring him into a tie with the previous longest streak this season when he and Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen both came through on the same night.
"I didn't even know what he was doing," Kelli said. "I was like, 'What are you on your phone for?' Then he started to get really far. Then I was like, 'Keep picking.'"
Bryan did not limit his selections to Braves players, but he did lean on Chris Johnson and Freddie Freeman as the most consistent contributors along his 47-game run -- in fact, it was Freeman and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina who got the streak rolling. Upton was flattered he had been tabbed for a handful of picks as Bryan's streak climbed higher up the standings.
"That's awesome," Upton said. "Obviously, he's a Braves fan, and I was swinging the bat good at the time, and I was the guy that night, and I didn't get it done."
Though their luck finally ran out, the Bryans did get the chance to take in Friday's game against a division rival with some signed gear and a few unforgettable memories in tow.