Braves' Gattis embraces newfound fame

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchangeMay 23, 2013


Evan Gattis' second trip to New York will certainly be different than his first.
In fact, the weekend travel illustrates just how much the improbable rookie slugger's life has changed.
"I was out of money," Gattis said. "I had to ask people, 'Are you done with that food?' I know I'll eat a lot better this time."
Life is good now for the 26-year-old Texan, who will certainly be asked repeatedly by the New York media about his made-for-TV story while the Braves play a weekend series against the Mets beginning Friday.
Gattis gave up baseball for nearly four years after high school, spending a brief time in rehab and later living on the road as he traveled the country doing a variety of menial jobs.
"He spent three years living in a van," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after Gattis hit a two-out pinch homer to send Tuesday's game with the Twins into extra innings. "I don't think a baseball game is going to faze him."
That homer came after Gattis had connected for a two-run pinch shot on Saturday that brought the Braves back for a victory over the Dodgers and he connected for a grand slam against the Twins on Wednesday in his first start behind the plate since May 5.
"He's a legend," Gonzalez said afterwards.
After the grand slam, the theme from "The Natural" played at Turner Field.
Remember Ray "The Natural" Hobbs? Gattis' story may seem even more like fiction.
A non-roster invitee to spring training with no proven defensive position, he made the team thanks to Brian McCann's absence following shoulder surgery and has been winning an enthusiastic fan following ever since.
Gattis leads all major league rookies with 10 homers and 27 RBIs. And he has definitely shown a flare for the dramatic.
He homered in his first major league game while his proud father was being interviewed on TV and his three homers as a pinch-hitter ties him for the third-most ever in a season by a Brave.
"I can't believe everything that has happened," Gattis said. "Sometimes it seems like it must be a dream."
The Braves took a chance on Gattis in 2010, using a 23rd-round draft choice to take him out of a small Texas college. Three years later, he's a folk hero.