Posted: 3:11 pm Friday, June 27th, 2014

Farewell from Carroll Rogers 

By David O'Brien

(Note: Today we’ve got a very special “guest,” if you can call her that. But really, Carroll Rogers has been far more than that on this blog over the years, as most of you know. She’s leaving the AJC, and we’re all going to miss her, no one more than yours truly. She’s a real pro and we’ve worked together, often side-by-side, on this beat for a long while now. So here she is, putting a   – 30 – on it, so to speak.)

 By Carroll Rogers

Honestly, it didn’t dawn on me until the boarding door closed this morning and the flight attendant told us our Delta flight to Philadelphia would be departing in yadda ya, that I would cover my last ever road series on the Braves beat in the same place I covered my first, in 1999. Isn’t that baseball for you? Always some little twist you didn’t see coming. Something to wrap it up with a bow.

It’s Carroll Rogers on the keyboard today, filling in for David O’Brien, as I’ve done for the better part of the past eight years. I’m about to cram my last four games on the “backup Braves beat” into the next four days, because that’s also how the fates play it – give the gal a doubleheader before she heads out the door!

I’m staying on the payroll for another month, to cover the All-Star game and the Hall of Fame. What kind of fool would ride off into the sunset before first watching Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Bobby Cox take their rightful place in Cooperstown? But after this weekend, I’ll be off the daily beat, other than maybe an occasional cameo, and a month later I’ll be leaving the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after 17 years.

The move is for personal – and well, geographical – reasons. Just so happened that the man I fell for doesn’t live in Atlanta, and though he has come a lot closer over the past seven years, from San Diego, to Richmond, to Charlotte – that’s about as close as I can seem to get him.  Lucky for me, Charlotte happens to be my hometown, where my parents and my sister live, and it’s where Gus and I will be getting married in November.

So I’ve thrown a lot of my energies into looking forward to all that’s ahead and spent the past few weeks in denial of what I’m leaving behind.

Baseball’s a grind. Anybody who’s at the ballpark during the season knows it – whether it’s other writers, broadcasters, players, coaches, clubhouse guys, or the security guard who tells you good night as you walk out of the stadium at 2 a.m. after an extra-inning game. But damn, if it doesn’t grow on you.

And here I am, a gal who grew up mostly on college basketball in the state of North Carolina, reminiscing about a sport that adopted me when I didn’t know a darn thing about it. My first day on the job as a 22-year-old reporter at the Macon Telegraph, they sent me to shadow a writer named Kamon Simpson at a Macon Braves game at Luther Williams Field. He got up to go to the restroom and asked me to score the game for him. I had no idea how to do it, so in a panic, I just scribbled down “groundball to shortstop” on a piece of paper. I flushed in complete embarrassment when he got back and I had to reveal my secret.

Kamon never uttered one sarcastic word – amazing for a press box, I’m telling you – and simply started teaching me how to do it. Three years later, I was covering the Atlanta Braves as they won the 1995 World Series championship. I got to follow the Braves back to the World Series the next year at Yankee Stadium. And as I continued in my writing career, covering sports of all varieties over the next 22 years for the Telegraph and starting in 1997 at the AJC, whether it was high schools, college or the other pro teams, baseball was the one that grabbed me by the soul.

I love the pace of it, the way you can catch your breath between plays, and talk to the person beside you. I love the personalities, and the access, that allows us to really get to know people like you wouldn’t in other sports. I love the stories and the richness of baseball’s history, and I love that I got to witness up close, such an amazing run in the 14 straight years of division titles and three of the best pitchers we’ll ever see.

I’m grateful to the Atlanta Braves. Had Bobby Cox and John Schuerholz not been the ones in charge, had they not created a culture where it’s unacceptable for players or staff to treat a female reporter with anything other than respect in the clubhouse, I might not have lasted two weeks.

I mean the “fire in the hole” yells that rang out in the visiting clubhouse at Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium when I used to walk in the door during the mid-1990s when I was assigned a story for the Macon paper about a Kevin Brown, or a Rondell White or a Michael Mimbs – it was funny to those guys, I’m sure, embarrassing as hell to me.

Fortunately, I never got any of that in the home clubhouse. And I can count on two fingers the number of times in the past 20 years that I got flushed over something inappropriate. And they’re not even worth mentioning because they were over in a heartbeat and I had countless people, from within the organization and without, rally to my side. And besides, I was one of those girls who grew up with three brothers, and riding bikes and playing freeze tag with the boys in the neighborhood. All I had to do was treat Braves players like I would one of my brothers, and I was good. They have done the same for me, and I’m grateful.

I’m grateful to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, and players like David Justice, Fred McGriff and Terry Pendleton, who set the tone in the Braves clubhouse from the first day I walked in. To Chipper Jones, who is and always will be the quote machine, and a guy I feel like I grew up in the game with. To some of my ’99 guys, who I will always hold in a special place – Eddie Perez, Walt Weiss, Brian Jordan, Ozzie Guillen, Mike Remlinger, Rudy Seanez, Don Baylor, and the list goes on. How come all of you are coaching and managing and broadcasting now? Y’all got old, how come I didn’t? (See how they can’t defend themselves in the middle of one of my blogs?!)

They set the tone for so many great personalities and players to follow, the Kris Medlens and Tim Hudsons, the Brian McCanns and Mark DeRosas. I’m going to forget people I should mention, so I shouldn’t even try. But let me just say that I’ll never forget watching Andruw Jones glide in center field, Rafael Furcal and Andrelton Simmons zip a throw to first, and Jeff Francoeur and Jason Heyward bring crowds to their feet the days they homered in their big league debuts. I’ll never forget how Martin Prado kept his mother waiting in the tunnel an hour and a half after a game because he can’t go home until his swing felt right. And I won’t forget the day early one spring training morning when Freddie Freeman brought a tear to my eye telling me how as a 10-year old boy, he used to kiss his mother’s forehead every day before he left the hospital, knowing he was going to lose her soon to melanoma.

So gosh. Yes, grateful to so many Braves from now and into years past, even though I’m too chicken to say much about leaving. Not even sure how to break the routine of what we do day in and day out in the clubhouse and yet a guy like Dan Uggla knew just how to break the ice and walk up to me the other day in Houston, give me a hug and wish me well.

See in baseball, I’ve learned that through the highs and lows, all the pressures these players face with expectations and maybe what we in the media face with deadline and competition, the goal is to be the same person every day.

I’m grateful for so many who have been – to Fredi and the coaches, to the Braves PR staff, to my co-workers and competitors alike, from Walter down in the owner’s box, to Albert in the elevator and Moses in the press cafeteria, thanks. I’ll miss you.

So yes, I’ll be doing some more reminiscing all weekend, in Philadelphia, the same city where I came for my first stop on my first trip as the AJC’s primary beat writer in 1999 when I was scared out of my mind.

During that four-city coast-to-coast odyssey from Philadelphia to Denver, LA to Miami, I had my first rainout, my first snow-out, my first trade (Mark Wohlers was sent to the Reds), my first extra-inning game – and on a get-away day at that – so I also had my first missed flight.

Only by the grace of Braves traveling secretary Bill Acree did I get the chance to make my first trip on the Braves charter. The only catch there was that I woke up the next day in Miami, instead of making a trip back through Atlanta, where I was planning to repack for warmer weather and the last four games of the trip in Miami.

I woke up jet-lagged, overwhelmed and exhausted and nearly in tears. So I called a friend, J.J. Cooper who you might know now from Baseball America. He told me to find a beach and walk on it. That’s just what I did. I felt like a new person. Maybe I could do it after all.

Covering four games in three days now in Philadelphia is probably just a fitting way to go out and a reminder of what an awesome and wild ride it’s been. I know when I pack up my bag to head to my new home in Charlotte on Monday, I’ll do so with gratitude for the many miles, games, laughs, tears and people that I leave behind. Thank you.

 

2473 comments
GetBackJojo
GetBackJojo

Carroll Rogers, sad to hear you're leaving, Best of life and wishes for you, and Gus. Lucky man, must be a special one. As Ellen says, Be kind to one another.

tbbravefan
tbbravefan

well we are back home and losing.

JerseyGil
JerseyGil

Frank Wren in the MLB Network "The Rundown" start now.

EMWTK
EMWTK

Fill in broadcaster watch:

Paul Byrd -- Big thumbs up! Very perceptive and informative. I get the impression there's a lot more he wants to say, too, but he just can't get it all in.

Tom Hart -- Big thumbs down. White noise with no redeeming value, unless you want to know which player is a snappy dresser.

JerseyGil
JerseyGil

Anyone saw the new HBO Series "Leftover" last night?....What up with "The Marlboro Cult"??/

noleee
noleee

Unforgettable is back;-)

I kilda like Poppy

EMWTK
EMWTK

So, he doesn't appear to be some unrelentant hacker,at least. _ scoots on Kyle Wren

While it may be true that you can't "walk off the island," you can indeed walk away from the Georgia Tech campus. Just make sure you're carrying when you do.

EMWTK
EMWTK

 That doesn’t make a lot of sense, but having B.J. Upton bat leadoff doesn’t make much sense, either. But, as they say around the ol’ batting cage, that’s baseball. _ Also Bradley

Mark, just because you don't understand it doesn't mean that it doesn't make sense.

How did you get this job, anyway? I guess "that's baseball" too.

EMWTK
EMWTK

The Braves have benefited, if slightly, from having B.J. Upton bat leadoff. _ Mark Bradley

I'll take that as validation, despite the decidedly lukewarm temperature.

noleee
noleee

Nats got their health?

HERE THEY COME!!!!

noleee
noleee

place is dead today, hardly took me any time at all to catch up from last night

noleee
noleee

Peraza more likely is the future at leadoff....RICK


gonna have to walk a lot more than he does now to be a decent leadoff hitter won't he? 285/315 ain't gonna cut it

ncscoots
ncscoots

I thank the gods that Bryce Harper is back tonight for the Natalies. I almost don't care if he makes them better, worse, or indifferent, as long the injury whines cease and desist. 

They've been stuck on that narrative for so long, they're liable to go up in a mushroom cloud if they hit a losing streak with "everybody healthy".

Rick_C
Rick_C

This is interesting.  The only Braves link was John Coppolella asking if the Astros had any interest in Paul Janish.

noleee
noleee

@EMWTK

there were some  in game folks knocking him but I kinda liked him

although he did say that a tie goes to the runner which is not technically true

Rick_C
Rick_C

@EMWTK Really?  I thought Hart did a really good job.  Byrd was decent, though said some kind of strange things.

ncscoots
ncscoots

@EMWTK

I get the impression there's a lot more he wants to say, too, but he just can't get it all in.

The art in that craft is knowing what to leave out, and when. Being able to distill your words down to a clarity of point that still fits between the time the throw goes back to the pitcher and the time he starts his windup.

noleee
noleee

@JerseyGil

I DLed but have not seen it yet

Looks like Gang Related is getting cut, no great loss imo

GetBackJojo
GetBackJojo

@noleee I must agree with you, but I'm more enamored with Piper Perabo, and so glad Covert Affairs is back. Both are beautiful women. Piper just reminds me of Brittany Force, middle daughter of John Force.

EMWTK
EMWTK

@noleee Poppy Petal Emma Elizabeth Deveraux Donahue was born in Sydney, Australia in 1972 to Nicola (née Montgomery), an executive and market researcher, and Phil Donahue, a restaurateur. She is one of six children and her parents named her and her sisters (Rosie Thorn, Daisy Yellow, Lily Belle, and Marigold Sun) after flowers, and their brother after the rock band Jethro Tull. _ Wikipedia

Where does one begin here.............

ncscoots
ncscoots

@EMWTK

Actually, that was in reference to Peraza. I probably wasn't very clear about that.

noleee
noleee

@EMWTK

i've been pushing the idea of at least trying it for a long while, but I can see others being lukewarm about it

since it has been a lukewarm result so far

but better than b4

lotta scepticism out there about anything concerning him by now

Bradley is a baseball moron too, needs to stay with feetsball

ncscoots
ncscoots

@EMWTK

That's more than you'll get from that Mark guy here.

ncscoots
ncscoots

@noleee

Zimmerman at 3B and hope nothing gets hit to him; or rotate the OF and give Espinosa ABs over better hitters. Good luck, Matt.

ncscoots
ncscoots

@noleee Three walks in his last five games, man. So, he doesn't appear to be some unrelentant hacker,at least.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@noleee Sure, but the question was if Wren was the future at leadoff.  I'd bank on Peraza being more likely, wouldn't you?

TennesseePaul
TennesseePaul

True... he should be in the .205/.271 range before being considered.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@ncscoots With Ramos' and Harpers' injury histories, it's only a matter of time before there is yet another opportunity to whine.

LumanHarris
LumanHarris

@ncscoots WashingtonPost.com headline today: 

At last, the Nats have their health

EMWTK
EMWTK

@Rick_C @EMWTK My impression was that Byrd was a little nervous, but was anxious to illuminate. Hart, being the pro, was not nervous....he just had nothing to contribute.

EMWTK
EMWTK

@noleee Basketball is his only area of competence.

EMWTK
EMWTK

@Rick_C @noleee I am curious to see how much nepotism, or perception thereof, affects Kyle's future here.

ncscoots
ncscoots

@EMWTK @ncscoots

Yes, and I wasn't berating him, if it came off that way. I think he's done a fine job, for little experience doing it.

ncscoots
ncscoots

@EMWTK @ncscoots

Oh yes, it was a fine joke, good enough that I nearly decided not to clarify on my comment, LOL.

noleee
noleee

@EMWTK @noleee

ok, I don't follow him at all since what I have seen quoted from him over the years about baseball has been moronic for the most part

I thought maybe football since he seems to evince the mentality of having to win all the time