This weekend was the Atlanta Braves annual alumni weekend, with their team Hall of Fame induction, alumni softball game, and on this weekend, the number retirement for Braves pitching legend John Smoltz. There were alumni of the team from the last 30 plus years of Braves history in attendance, if you are looking for things to do in Atlanta, taking part in Saturday's softball game would be a historic experience. One of those alumni claimed to be John Sullivan, a former Braves bullpen coach in the early 1980s. The problem was that the impostor managed to skate clean through every process the Braves had put into place, and actually made it on the field and took part in the game. Christian Boone of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote a nice story about the bizarre situation.
The real Sullivan coached with Bobby Cox in Atlanta before Cox made his way to Toronto in 1982, and Sullivan followed Cox to Toronto to coach alongside him. During the events, Cox didn't know who the mystery man was, and when told it was Sullivan, was adamant that the man on the field was not his former bullpen coach. The fake Sullivan's story just didn't mesh well with any of the alumni, as he was unsure of when he played for the Braves, and at what affiliates. Eventually, he confessed when confronted by former Braves pitcher Andy Ashby…but not until after the alumni events of Saturday.
This entire incident makes the Braves organization look terrible. They not only got the wrong man for the weekend, but they didn't even check his information out when he showed up at Turner Field? They paid for his flight, his hotel accommodations, and his food for the weekend. What strikes me as even more alarming is that Jose Alvarez, a former Braves reliever who talked at length about the story with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said he recognized the impostor from his appearances last year during alumni weekend, when Bobby Cox's number was retired.
I'm really not sure who gets all the blame with this story, but former Braves reliever Greg McMichael (who now is the team's alumni liaison) has to feel just a little silly considering everything that went down with the faux Sullivan, not only this year, but last year as well. Who knows how long this has been going on?
At the end of the day, nothing happened and everyone had a good laugh about it, but this scares the hell out of me. It would have taken maybe five minutes to make sure this was the real guy, and you didn't do it? What would have happened if this guy was a whackjob who did something dangerous?
In the future, the Braves should be very cautious with their alumni weekends instead of playing fast and loose.
[h/t: Atlanta Journal-Constitution]