Ringolsby: At Home With The Braves

Image credit: Braves manager Brian Snitker guided the Braves to a surprising division title to win the NL Manager of the Year award.

Brian Snitker is a real-life feel-good story.

At the age of 63, Snitker was selected as the National League Manager of the Year after leading the Braves to a surprising NL East title. He was the only manager named on all 30 writers’ ballots.

Snitker was 60 years old when he was promoted from the minor leagues to serve as Atlanta’s interim manager 39 games into the 2016 season. He was the choice of Hall of Fame skipper Bobby Cox. And Snitker had the support reinforced a year ago when the Braves brought in a new general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, who reaffirmed Snitker’s managerial duties.

He left no regrets for anyone in the Braves’ front office when he guided the club to 90 wins and into the postseason for the first time five years.

The honor comes four decades after he originally joined the Braves organization as an undrafted catcher out of the University of New Orleans. He has been with the Braves organization for all of his 42 seasons in baseball.

Tommy Lasorda bleeds Dodger blue.

Well, Brian Snitker bleeds Braves red, white and blue. He has been a backup catcher in the low minors, a coach and manager in the minors, and a coach and manager in the big leagues.

And he has done it all for the only club he’s ever known.

Snitker joined the organization in 1977, which was the year before the Braves made Bob Horner a first-round pick, and 13 years before Chipper Jones was the first player selected in the 1990 draft. It was seven years before the Braves used a second-round pick on Tom Glavine, and a decade before the Braves sent Doyle Alexander to the Tigers for prospect John Smoltz.

And it was the year that then-owner Ted Turner—upset at an 8-21 start— told manager Dave Bristol to take a 10-day vacation in May, and Turner named himself interim manager. This lasted for one game, after which commissioner Bowie Kuhn told Turner that anyone who owned stock in a team was forbidden from managing it.

Snitker is baseball’s version of the guy who started in the mail room and became chairman of the board.

His résumé? He played four years in the minors, topping out at Double-A. He was a minor league coach for five seasons and then a manager in Atlanta’s farm system for 19 seasons.

Snitker coached at the big league level 11 years, and he spent the bulk of 2016 as the interim manager of a team that had gone 9-28 when he took over but went 37-35 after the all-star break.

Now he can add this line: NL Manager of the Year, 2018

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