ATLANTA -- As he was progressing through his high school years in suburban Atlanta, Nick Markakis passed on the regular playing time he would have received with one travel team in order to take advantage of the chance to serve as a young backup for a more experienced team filled with players who would help him learn how to play the game the right way.
Though he has never been an All-Star or MVP Award candidate, Markakis has stood as a highly respected and disciplined leader who has overcome the inevitable adversity experienced within a long baseball career. The reward for the Braves right fielder's perseverance comes in the form of the satisfaction he, his teammates and family members felt when he notched his 2,000th career hit during Thursday night's 7-4 loss to the Dodgers at SunTrust Park.
"You're just happy to get it out of the way," Markakis said. "Sometimes those things can linger around. It was nice to get it here in front of my family and at the home field. It was definitely nice to get it out of the way."
With the opposite-field, fourth-inning single he slapped to left field against Alex Wood, Markakis became just the 10th active player to reach the 2,000-hit milestone. He was able to share the moment with his parents, who attend nearly every home game, his wife, Christina, and their three sons -- Taylor, Tucker and Toby.
Christina surprised her husband when she and her sons traveled from their Baltimore home to be present for this week's games. As the three boys sat in the stands, they created a sign to count down to the milestone hit.
"I didn't know they were doing it, so when I looked up there it was pretty cool," Markakis said. "That's ultimately why I'm here. I'm here for them. I'm just happy to do it and for them to be here to watch it."
Markakis recorded a career-high 191 hits in 2007 with the Orioles -- his second Major League season -- and then posted at least 170 hits in seven of the nine seasons that followed entering 2017. He was sidelined by a hamate injury for a healthy portion of the 2012 season, and the discomfort he battled the next two seasons led him to undergo major neck surgery after ending his long tenure with the Orioles by signing a four-year, $44 million deal with the Braves in December 2014.
The procedure was similar to the one that has sidelined Mets third baseman David Wright for more than a year and jeopardized his career. But Markakis was in the Braves' 2015 Opening Day lineup less than four full months after the surgery and ended up hitting .296 with a .746 OPS during his first season with Atlanta.
"When I had the neck surgery, I didn't know where it was going to take me," Markakis said. "I rehabbed and did the best I could to get back. I was just fortunate not to miss any time from it. You just try to be as consistent as you can and be the player that you are."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.