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From Class A To The World Series, Braves Manager Brian Snitker Has Come A Long Way

ATLANTA— When Braves manager Brian Snitker arrived at Truist Park in the hours before Game 3 of the World Series, the contrast between where he began and where he is now could not have been starker.

By first pitch, the four-year-old, state of the art stadium would be filled with 42,898 screaming fans, with millions more watching at home and Snitker’s team at the center of the baseball universe.

It’s a far cry from Anderson, S.C., where Snitker began his managerial career in 1982.

“My wife and I were talking about it the other night,” Snitker said prior to Game 3. “It's like ‘My God.’ After we won the National League, you look back, and it was a lifetime ago, it seems like.”

Snitker, 66, is a Braves lifer. The team drafted him in the 25th round in 1976 as a catcher out of the University of New Orleans. He played four years in their minor league system and reached Triple-A before becoming a coach. The farm director who hired him was Hank Aaron.

Snitker’s first managerial post came with the Class A Anderson Braves. The city had a population of less than 20,000 people. The team played at Anderson Memorial Stadium, a 5,300 capacity ballpark with concrete stands. The Braves didn’t keep an affiliate there long—arrived there from Greenwood, S.C. in 1980 and moved to Sumter, S.C. in 1985.

Under Snitker’s watch, Anderson went 72-70 in 1982—the only time in five seasons the franchise posted a winning record. The players on that Anderson team included pitchers Zane Smith and Duane Ward, both of whom went on to long careers in the major leagues.

Posting a winning record and helping develop eventual major leaguers proved to be a sign of things to come for Snitker’s career. He became the manager at Class A Durham the following season, the second chapter in a managerial odyssey that later included stops at Sumter, S.C., Macon, Ga., Danville, Va., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Greenville, S.C., Jackson, Miss., Richmond, Va., and Gwinnett, Ga. He spent 20 seasons as a manager in the Braves minor league system, helping develop a long list of future standouts that included David Justice, Mark Lemke, Paul AssenmacherKent Mercker, Rafael Furcal, Marcus Giles, Jason Marquis, Jason Schmidt, Adam LaRoche and Adam Wainwright. His players also included Derek Lilliquist and Joe Ayrault, both of whom went on to long coaching careers of their own.

“I look back, and (my wife) dragging the kids, following me around the Southeast for years and going to spring training and her showing up, and the kids had grown like it was unbelievable, the transformation in the time that I'd been away,” Snitker. “Yeah, it just kind of still blows me away to think of everything that we've been through, and now we're sitting here.”

One of the few Braves over the last 45 years Snitker didn’t cross paths with was Dusty Baker, now the Astros manager. The Braves traded Baker to the Dodgers in Nov. 1975, eight months before they drafted Snitker.

It wasn’t until Snitker joined the Braves major league coaching staff that he met Baker. The first opportunity came in 2008, when Snitker was in his second year as the Braves third base coach and Baker was in his first season as the Reds manager.

“I knew of him,” Snitker said. “He was a really great player here and had an extensive, really good career here. So I was aware of Dusty but never really met him until I came up as a major league coach.”

Now, they’re meeting in the World Series. For Snitker, it’s a lifetime away from where he began.

“We're so blessed and cherish each and every day of this, because you're never guaranteed it,” Snitker said. “ I'm going to enjoy it.”


Ringolsby: At Home With The Braves

Brian Snitker spent four decades working his way to the top of the Braves organization.

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