Welcome (Back) to Atlanta, Will!
Brewers reliever Will Smith has visited Turner Field many times in his 24 years, but this is the first time at the ballpark that he won’t be cheering for the Braves.
Will hails from Newnan, Georgia, a town about 30 miles south of Turner Field, where he grew up as a big fan of the Atlanta Braves and attended Northgate High School where he played on the school’s baseball team.
While Will has faced the Braves twice before in his career, this will be his first time returning to pitch in Atlanta–and he’s got hundreds of family and friends coming out to cheer him on over these next four games, including his former baseball coach, Greg Hamilton; his mom, Kay; and his dad, Charles..
“He was fantastic and had a little something you don’t see all the time–the IT.” Coach Hamilton recalled.
Coach Hamilton also noted that he and Will are still very close.
“He still comes down and does stuff with Northgate all the time time. He’s more than a baseball player. He’s a great guy.”
And, he says, he frequently reminds Will not to let anyone outwork him. “‘Never,’ Will always replies,” he says.
“Will was a huge Braves fan growing up,” Will’s dad told me. “In fact, we attended a Fan Fest here when he was young and we even have a photo of him throwing in the bullpen.”
Now that’s foreshadowing and proof that dreams do come true if you’re willing to put in the effort and not “let anyone outwork you,” as Will has done and continues to do.
(Of course, I’ve asked Mr. and Mrs. Smith to share those photos with us, if they can track them down–stay tuned!)
Thanks to Mrs. Smith, here are the photos of a young Will at Turner Field. He was about 11 or 12 at the time: