“Adversity and struggle are part of baseball. They are part of life. No one is immune. Those who are successful learn to deal with it.”                Brian Snitker

 July 19, 2022 – Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California: Atlanta Braves Manager Brian Snitker leaned on the dugout railing, watched batting practice and savored the moment. As a result of his Braves winning the 2021 World Series, the 67-year-old skipper was deeply honored to manage the national league team in the 92nd all-star game.

There were plenty of times in his career when Brian could have decided, probably should have decided, to give up baseball and do something else. He could have returned to college or gotten a job with better salary and security. Many times, Brian and his wife, Ronnie, wondered if it was all worth it. Brian chose to stick with the game that he fell in love with as a kid. His patience and refusal to quit eventually paid off.

Brian loved the game from the first time he played baseball in the backyard with his dad in Macon, Illinois. During his sophomore season, his tiny high school, the Macon Ironman, became the smallest high school ever to play for an Illinois state title. After high school, Brian played community college ball and then two years at the University of New Orleans.

In 1980, at age 24, Brian almost quit baseball. He had played four seasons in the Braves minor-league system. He was obviously not big-league material and the Braves ultimately released him. The next day, Atlanta legend and Braves farm system director, Hank Aaron, called. He convinced Brian to try coaching. Brian got a one-year contract and a $10,000 annual salary to manage the Braves Class A team in Anderson, South Carolina.

A year later, Brian was assigned to manage the Class A Durham, North Carolina, Bulls. In 1985, the Braves promoted the former catcher to Atlanta as the bullpen coach. His excitement was short-lived, as he was sent back to Class A the following season. Another opportunity to do something else.

Brian patiently waited for another chance. While waiting, he won two minor league Manager of the Year awards. In 2007, after 17 seasons managing in the Braves minor league organization, 50-year-old Brian was promoted to Braves third base coach. He assumed his minor league managerial days were finally over.

But in 2013, Brian was demoted to manage the Triple-A Gwinnett team. It was painful. He was 56 years old and had been committed to the Braves for four decades. He had waited his whole life for something that wasn’t going to happen. This is the point when many people would have walked away, but Brian felt trapped. He couldn’t retire financially. He needed to manage more years in the majors to qualify for a pension. He stayed with the only organization he had ever worked for.

Three years later, in the spring of 2016, Brian and Ronnie were at breakfast when he got a call. It was Atlanta Braves President John Hart. At age 61, Brian finally got his opportunity to manage the Braves. He had waited 40 years for his shot. The next day, he joined the Braves at PNC Park in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, becoming the oldest rookie manager in baseball in four decades.

In 2018, the Braves won the national league east title, the first of three straight division titles and Brian was voted National League Manager of the Year. In 2021, he became just the fourth manager in more than a century of Braves baseball to win a World Series, the Braves first championship in 25 years.

For all those years, Brian chose to keep grinding and dreaming, chasing a job with the Braves that became more difficult to attain the older he got. He managed 20 seasons in 10 Braves minor league towns. The pay was low, the job security non-existent and the bus rides long. For two decades he left home in February and returned in September while Ronnie raised their boys.

Brian Snitker’s 2022 National League all-star team lost to the American League 3-2, but it was a night Brian and Ronnie would never forget. They quietly celebrated over dinner after the game. As of 2023, Brian is in his 46th season with the Braves. His Braves are once again in first place in the National League East. He is thankful for his dream job.