Braves Snitker lifer receives award for 44-year investment

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Brian Snitker borrowed heavily from Bobby Cox to learn how to run a clubhouse.

Now he’s matched his mentor in pursuit of the game’s biggest prize, joining Cox as the only Atlanta Braves manager to win the World Series.

The championship won on Tuesday night with a 7-0 Game 6 victory over the Houston Astros was the reward for Snitker’s 44-year investment as the Braves’ lifer. After a long career as a player, instructor, coach and manager in the Atlanta organization, the 66-year-old Snitker has earned his place in team history.

“Brian Snitker is an amazing human being,” said star hitter Freddie Freeman. “And it’s absolutely amazing that we can call him the world champion now for all he’s done for this organization.”

Snitker, a former Braves minor league wide receiver and first baseman, was given the opportunity to start a new career as a coach through Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, the team’s agricultural director. Aaron passed away at the age of 86 on January 22, and Snitker became emotional during the World Series when he spoke of speaking with Aaron’s widow Billye.

Snitker’s patience in his long road to becoming Atlanta’s manager was put to the test in 2013. After coaching Atlanta’s third baseman from 2007 to 2013, he was fired as a juvenile. manager of Triple-A Gwinnett. He had already served 15 seasons as the manager of almost every minor league team in the Braves, so he was asked to retrace his steps.

It didn’t seem like a path that would lead him to a big league manager role. When Atlanta fired manager Fredi González in the 2016 season, Snitker didn’t expect a call.

“I thought it was probably out of place when I left at that point in that last retrain like this,” Snitker said last week.

Cox, who led the Braves from 1990-2010 and won a title in 1995, instilled lessons in Snitker that helped him make the most of the opportunity as an interim manager in 2016 and then when ‘he was appointed to the full-time post. His collection of four NL East crowns, and now the World Series championship, are more than he dared dream of in 2016. He is the second oldest manager to win his first title, after Jack McKeon, 72, with the Marlins in 2003.

“I couldn’t imagine how great this has been and what has happened since that time, because I wasn’t looking for this,” Snitker said. ” I did not expect that. When I got the call, it wasn’t what I expected to hear. I was fortunate to be able to occupy this position.

One idea taken from Cox was to give players their space in the clubhouse. Snitker rarely makes speeches and doesn’t hang out in the players’ area.

“He’s the kind of guy who when he talks we listen,” said Will Smith, closest to the Braves. “He doesn’t speak often, which is fine with us. “

Give Cox at least partial credit.

“I’ve been like this pretty much my entire career,” Snitker said. “When I walked in, it was for a purpose. … I probably got a lot of that from Bobby, watching him, and how guys respect that. I don’t have to be their buddy. I respect each of them. But I feel like it’s their refuge in there.

Smith says Snitker is “an old fashioned skipper”.

“His door is always open for talking, but he doesn’t come in with rah-rah speeches and things like that,” Smith said. “He knows we’re pros inside that room, and we kind of watch ourselves and show up every day at work and do our best to win the game that day.”

Like Cox, Snitker also preaches positive and uplifting messages even after players have failed to perform at their best.

“We’re very lucky to have him and the way he’s treating us is phenomenal,” said rookie right-hander Ian Anderson. “He’ll shake your hand after every ride, good or bad, and that goes a long way. So you are still looking for it.

It’s a successful approach. Snitker says he’s not sure he would have been so successful had the opportunity presented itself earlier in his career.

“I’ve said many times that I think this happened to me at a really good time in my life,” he said. “I’m probably in a better position to handle this position later in my career than I would have been earlier.”

Snitker passed lessons on to his son, Troy Snitker, the Astros co-hitter coach. Young Snitker said the most important lessons were about work ethic and consistency.

“I think that’s the most important thing I took away from him, being able to watch him from a young age in baseball,” said Troy Snitker. “He’s so consistent. I think this is the most important thing. He’s so constant, hardworking. He’s the same guy every day when you’re at the clubhouse with him.

“I think that’s what I’ve been through for so many years, and just to see him in action, see how he treats people. He has so many positive qualities about him, but he’s still the same guy whether they win or lose. He brings the same mindset to the field every day.

Brian Snitker has also shown the value of never giving up.

“He’s just been through so much in his career,” said Troy Snitker. “There were a lot of times he could easily have decided to go do something else, but he stuck with it. I would say his hard work is the most important thing I try to emulate with him.

Brian Snitker said on Sunday that his wife, Ronnie, was “a little drained” emotionally while cheering on her husband and son.

“It’s exciting,” Snitker said. “It’s good. I wouldn’t want it to be any different. We enjoyed it, thank goodness. So we’re excited about the rest of the ride.

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