Hundreds Turn Out

Newnan first stop of Braves' 2014 Caravan Tour

by Clay Neely -


Richard Pillsbury, who was first in line for the first stop of the Braves Country Caravan during Tuesday's visit to Academy Sports in Newnan, hands Atlanta reliever Anthony Vavaro a card to autograph.

More than 300 baseball fans wrapped themselves around the inside of Academy Sports as Newnan hosted the first stop of the 2014 Braves' Country Caravan.

Some arrived as early as 6 a.m., to welcome a group that included the Braves catcher Evan Gattis, relief pitchers Anthony Varvaro and Alex Wood, a former Georgia Bulldog, as well as coach Scott Fletcher and Atlanta general manager Frank Wren.

Braves fan Richard Pillsbury arrived in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, even before the sporting goods store opened to take his place at the front of the line. Others, like Ryen Cates, traveled all the way from Lynchburg, Tenn., following a 3 a.m., wake-up call.

Bryan Boyd and son Robert, left Mableton at 1 p.m. to come secure a place in line by the time the caravan bus arrived by mid afternoon after making a morning stop for an anti-bullying rally at an area middle school.

'We're doing community stops as well,' said Braves public relations coordinator Mackenzie Anderson. 'We'll be surprising some kids tomorrow at a Shriners hospital for children.'

Gattis, who is expected to take over starting catching duties following the departure of All-Star Brian McCann to the Yankees, became a fan favorite as a heralded 26-year-old rookie that at one point had given up baseball while earning the nickname 'El Oso Blanco' playing in the Mexican Leagues while making a comeback.

Wood was a late-season contributor after being called up from Triple-A Gwinnett on July 25 after Tim Hudson was lost for the season to an ankle injury.

'I like 'em all,' said Boyd. 'But Robert is excited about seeing (Evan) Gattis. I'm a Georgia boy so I like Alex Wood.'

Wood, who is expected to compete for a vacancy in the Atlanta's starting rotation left by Hudson in free agency, responded by going 3-1 as a starter the call up before making two relief appearances in the N.L.D.S. against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Braves Country Caravan will have stops on Tuesday, Jan. 28 at Town Center in Kennesaw as well as Feb. 1, at the Academy Sports in McDonough.

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