Schuerholz's legacy not lost on loved ones

As Father's Day nears, family proud of patriarch's achievements

Schuerholz's legacy not lost on loved ones

ATLANTA -- Still just 3 years old, John Boland Schuerholz III will not understand the significance of the trip he will make to Cooperstown this summer to celebrate his grandfather's legendary career. But over a significant portion of his life, his journeys to Baseball's Hall of Fame will be enriched by the opportunity to see a plaque that bears his exact name and immortalizes his family's patriarch.

"That's what gets me emotional when I talk about it," Braves assistant director of player development Jonathan Schuerholz said. "I'll be able to take our sons to Cooperstown for the rest of our lives and they'll see a plaque that says John Boland Schuerholz."

This thought has not been lost on John Boland Schuerholz Jr., whose excellence as a baseball executive in Kansas City and Atlanta has positioned him to go to Cooperstown next month to receive the game's greatest honor -- induction into Baseball's Hall of Fame. He is the proud son of a hard-working Baltimore native who shared his name and the proud father of his only son Jonathan, who extended a piece of the family's legacy once his oldest son was born.

"We opted to name [my son] Jonathan so that we wouldn't have too many Johns in the family," John Boland Schuerholz Jr. said. "So his son is named John Boland Schuerholz III. I'm very proud of that. It will be great to have my children, my grandchildren and the memory of my father there with me too [in Cooperstown]. That will be a wonderful and great family pride thing."

Though he may not share the same exact name, Jonathan is understandably more like his father than anybody.

"Maybe I don't see it as much as others do because I'm around him so much, but others who work us with him say, 'He sounds like you, he walks like you, he carries himself like you and he interacts with people like you do,'" the elder Schuerholz said. "A lot of people say a lot of nice and positive things about him. Appropriately so, I think he's earned that. I'm proud of him, very proud of him."

Now as he progresses through his formative years as a young baseball executive, Jonathan attempts to lean on the examples his father provided at home and at work, where he was consistently lauded as a strong leader who showed great faith in the capabilities of his employees.

"I think his dogged determination to always be the best is what he instilled in me," Jonathan said. "Another thing I know for a fact I learned from him from seeing how he built organizations and hearing about his leadership style, he felt his job was to hire the people to make the decisions. He relied on them."

Jonathan was 10 years old when his father came to Atlanta at the end of the 1990 season and immediately helped the Braves win the first of 14 consecutive division titles and experience what would be five World Series berths during the 1990s. He grew up within the organization and played six Minor League seasons within it after concluding his career at Auburn University.

The former Braves' general manager, who now serves as the club's vice chairman, cherishes memories of watching his son play soccer, baseball and football during his youth. Jonathan advanced as far as the Triple-A level and received invites to big league Spring Training.

Father and son shared a championship moment together in 2002, when Jonathan's sacrifice fly provided Class A Rome its first South Atlantic League title.

Two years later, when the Braves opted to give their starters just one at-bat during the annual Hall of Fame Game that used to be played in Cooperstown, Jonathan was among the Minor Leaguers given a chance to play. He hit a pair of home runs at Doubleday Field and was named the game's MVP.

"The inside joke was, 'Hey dad, I've been recognized by the Hall of Fame before they even recognized you,'" John Schuerholz said.

Of course, this all changed during the most recent Winter Meetings when while huddled in a hotel room with his wife, Karen and Jonathan, the accomplished Braves' leader learned he had been unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame.

"You don't see him drop his guard very often," Jonathan said. "That was a moment when he did. It wasn't like it was tears and crying, but it was just a real emotional moment and really fun. It was a nice hug and pat on the back, where you say, 'I'm proud of you.' It was cool."

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