Braves caravan honors warriors at Gowdy
February 1, 2012
FORT BENNING, Ga. - Staff Sgt. Jonathan Evans said he remembers watching Tim Hudson pitch one of the most dominant games of his career at Turner Field in 2011. It was memorable because he took his son, Timothy, to see a game for the first time.
Evans had the chance to remind Hudson of that performance Sunday as the starting pitcher made an appearance at Gowdy Field with the Atlanta Braves Country Caravan, a two-week tour that allows Braves players to make community appearances throughout the Southeast.
Hudson is orginally from Salem, Ala., and went to Glenwood High School in Smiths Station, Ala.
"(Tim) grew up around here and it's nice for someone who's had a lot of success to come back and meet people like us," Evans said.
Also making an appearance were outfielder Eric Hinske, catcher David Ross, short stop Tyler Pastornicky, hitting coach Scott Fletcher and baseball commentator and Hall-of-Fame pitcher Don Sutton.
The caravan first met and conversed with Soldiers of the Warrior Transition Battalion, and Hudson and Sutton were invited to address the crowd in a ceremony before the autograph session began.
"This is my hometown and to come back and see some locals and show our appreciation is something I always look forward to," Hudson said. "They've made so many sacrifices for our freedom, it's important to show our gratitude."
Each member of the caravan received a certificate of appreciation from Col. Jeffrey Fletcher, garrison commander.
Hundreds of fans lined up to get autographs from the players and the lines had not shortened much by the time the caravan was scheduled to leave.
"I especially like the (visits) where we get to connect with the folks in the military," Sutton said. "We don't get to say 'thank you 'enough. I'm getting to meet my heroes today."
Hudson went 16-10 last season with a 3.22 ERA.
Atlanta is coming off perhaps its most disappointing season in the club's history after blowing a 10.5-game wild-card lead, allowing eventual World Series champ St. Louis to sneak into the playoffs.
"It's fueled the fire for the offseason workouts," Ross said. "When something leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you can't wait to get back and fix it."