The past week has been pretty rough on fans of the Atlanta Braves. On Monday, free agent pitcher Tim Hudson left town after agreeing on a two-year, $23 million deal with the San Francisco Giants. Then on Saturday, longtime catcher Brian McCann joined the New York Yankees on a 5-year, $85 million contract. That's two staples and cornerstones of a winning organization gone in a matter of 120 hours, which is akin to taking two consecutive punches in the gut.
It won't be easy for the Braves brass to replace the veterans, either, especially in the case of an All-Star catcher like McCann. But if there is something that can brighten the day of a Braves fan, at least temporarily, it's the heartfelt letter Tim Hudson and his family wrote to them this weekend thanking them and the Braves organization for their support and hospitality over the past nine years.
The full letter was published in the Atlanta Journal on Saturday. It's a lengthy letter, so we'll give you a couple quick excerpts and then send you there to read it in its entirety.
"When I was traded from the Oakland A’s to the Atlanta Braves before the 2005 season, a childhood dream was realized. I grew up a Braves fan just a few hours south of Atlanta, and it was hard for me to believe that I was going to actually play for the Atlanta Braves and legendary manager Bobby Cox. My family was young. We had a toddler (Kennedie), a baby (Tess), and a baby on the way (Kade). We were welcomed into the Braves organization with open arms. Our son was born two weeks into my first season, and our journey began. The Atlanta Braves are really all that our children know about this crazy baseball life, and we are so thankful for this upbringing for them."
"And to the city of Atlanta and the amazing fans in all of Braves country…my deepest thanks. Braves fans are one-of-a-kind. Your passion to win comes close to equaling that of the players that go out on the field each and every game. But when the team goes through rough patches, you’re there to encourage and cheer and believe that things will turn around. In my 9 seasons, we definitely had some very high moments and some extremely disappointing moments. But one thing that I learned is this – once a Braves fan, always a Braves fan. No matter what. And as a player, that means more than you could understand."
We've seen this a lot in sports when a long tenured player retires or leaves town by means of a trade or free agency, but it never gets old. It's always a classy gesture on the part of the athlete, and that's no different in the case of Hudson and his family. It shows that as difficult as this week has been on the fans, it's been just as difficult on him to make that life-altering decision.
Now, here's hoping Braves fans pay him back next season when the Giants make their first appearance at Turner Field.
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