Family at forefront of Coppolella's Christmas

Family at forefront of Coppolella's Christmas

Having completed a significant portion of his offseason shopping in November, Braves general manager John Coppolella has had a little extra time to prepare for the holiday season, which he will spend with his wife Cheryl; daughter, Reese; and sons Edric and Dean. Coppolella recently talked to about some of his favorite memories and traditions of the holiday season. Two years ago, you reached an agreement with Jason Grilli on Dec. 23 and then on Dec. 24 you learned former manager Fredi Gonzalez had innocently leaked your agreement with A.J. Pierzynski. What would be your wife's reaction if she saw you working a deal on Christmas this year?

Coppolella: It wouldn't surprise her because she has seen it happen so many times. She will make me turn my phone off when the kids are opening gifts or we are at church, but any other time is fair game and if I get desperate enough I can always fake a trip to the bathroom. Speaking of Pierzynski, can you drive past a Honeybaked Ham store around this time of year without laughing and thinking of how Gonzalez created #HamRumors?

Coppolella: No. That was pretty wild. It makes you wonder why more rumors don't come from ham stores, burger joints or ice cream parlors. What is one of your favorite Christmas memories from your childhood?

Coppolella: Consistent with Italian traditions, my grandmother and mother would do a big fish fry on Christmas Eve. I remember it tasted so good, but the best part was that, even as children, we were allowed to stay up really late playing cards and spending time with family. What was the best baseball item or sports-related gift you received as a child?

Coppolella: One of the three jobs my father worked when he first came to this country from Italy was parking cars at Anaheim Stadium in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He got a baseball autographed by Nolan Ryan and Don Baylor that he gave to me. Unfortunately, a couple of years later my younger brother and I lost it playing catch. If you find a Nintendo NES Classic Edition under your tree, which game would you want to play first?

Coppolella: Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is your favorite holiday season movie. What is your favorite scene or line from this film?

Coppolella: The whole Cousin Eddie character is one of my favorite in any movie. The scene where he kidnaps Clark Griswold's boss is my favorite scene. Has this time of year felt a little less stressful than it did the past two years while you were still in the early stages of your rebuilding process?

Coppolella: Even when it's quiet, we constantly ask ourselves if there is more that we could be doing. We really like our team and we love our future, but our mindset is never one of complacency. You grew up in California and now spend a portion of the holiday season with your in-laws in New York. Do you prefer seeing sun or snow on Christmas morning?

Coppolella: Is my wife going to read this article? All kidding aside, it's great to be around family. Our kids love snow so I am hoping they get a White Christmas in New York so the kids can build snowmen. I love California and miss our family there, but five-plus hours on a plane with three young kids is not exactly my idea of holiday fun.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.