Similar to many young baseball fans around the country in the 1990s, Gerald Laird was served a steady diet of Braves baseball and "America's team" promotions in sunny Southern California.
A benefactor of former team owner Ted Turner's national dissemination of the Braves from 1973 to 2007, Laird was sold on his favorite team from thousands of miles away. It was Atlanta. He watched the games every day, 4:05 p.m. Pacific time as long as he finished his homework. That was the one rule.
And he rarely ever missed a game.
"I can remember coming here a couple years ago and it was the old-time Braves game and I can remember seeing, like, Sid Bream and like, 'Jesus Christ, these are all the old guys I watched.' (Mark) Lemke and (Jeff) Blauser and all those guys," the 33-year-old catcher said. "I was always a Braves fan. Huge Braves fan. Huge. And now I get to play here."
Laird signed with Atlanta in the offseason after making the trip to th...