Staff Photo: John Bohn Atlanta Braves players Jair Jurrjens, Eric Hinske and former player Terry Pendleton sign autographs for fans at Snellville Academy Sports and Outdoors Saturday afternoon. Obtaining autographs are Rich Daleski, left, of Duluth, his wife Denise Daleski and step son Kenny Scogin, 10.
SNELLVILLE -- You can take all the singles, doubles, triples and home runs -- even a grand slam -- add them all together, and it's still nowhere close to the joy Terry Pendleton feels making kids smile.
The retired Atlanta Braves third baseman said "there's nothing else like it."
Pendleton and other Atlanta Braves athletes lit up the faces of children and adults alike on Saturday, as they visited a local athletics store in Snellville in an effort to get fans pumped about the coming season.
The Atlanta Braves Country Caravan set out earlier this month on a two-week tour around the southeast to greet thousands of fans before the team heads to Spring training in mid-February. Pendleton, Jair Jurrjens, Eric O'Flaherty, Brian Snitker and Eric Hinske all showed up Saturday at Academy Sports and Outdoors on Scenic Highway.
Hinske said the traveling players like to "give back to the community, because that's what it's all about ... to see the looks on their faces and to meet all the fans, it means a lot."
Hinske and his teammates were greeted by more than 500 happy fans here in Gwinnett County, many of whom drove from out of town.
Fans Paige Butler and Kevin Martin of Marietta waited in line for nearly two hours Saturday to get a baseball bat and several glossy photos autographed. They said it was "definitely worth it."
Lee and Morgan Braswell of Kennesaw agreed. They brought two young Braves fans in tow -- Parker, 3, and 10-month-old Mason. "They're big-time fans too," Lee Braswell said.
Bill and Beverly Krause of LaFayette said they got some good autographs. The longtime Braves fans said they have been showing the athletes support for decades. "It was worth the trip today," Bill said. "It always is."
Kyle Freeman, 7, of Norcross stood in line for 45 minutes to give every player a high five and wish them "a really great season."
Pendleton, who played for three years with the Braves in the early 90s, said it's fans like Freeman that have always made it worthwhile. "You can see the excitement on their faces," Pendleton said. "It's just priceless."
For more information about the upcoming season, visit www.atlantabraves.com.