Braves fan growing up, Hale gets first call to Majors

Braves fan growing up, Hale gets first call to Majors

Braves fan growing up, Hale gets first call to Majors

PHILADELPHIA -- The first call was an easy decision for David Hale to make.

"The first call I made was to my father," the newest member of the Braves' bullpen said. "I talked to him [David] and my mom [Mary] and she started to cry. She's probably still crying."

That's not unusual for a young player's first callup to the big leagues, but Hale's story is much more than just a callup. Hale grew up in nearby Marietta, Ga., a fan of the Braves and players David Justice and Fred McGriff. He saw more games at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field than he can remember. He could also count current Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez as one of his neighbors.

"In Spring Training he told me he would see me at Publix or Home Depot," Gonzalez said before Friday night's game at Citizens Bank Park. "He said he was too afraid to come up and say hi. Who's too afraid to say hi?"

Hale has much bigger aspirations these days, especially with a chance to show off his wares to a Braves team headed for a second consecutive playoff berth. Hale, who didn't start pitching until he was a senior in high school, went 6-9 with a 3.22 ERA for Gwinett. Even though he was used primarily as a starter -- 20 of his 22 appearances were as a starter -- he'll at least begin his big league stint in the bullpen.

"I'm just taking it all in," said the Princeton graduate, who already had his first responsibility as holder of the bullpen snack bag, which was sitting on his clubhouse chair. "I came down on the bus because I didn't want to mess with anything. It's great to step out there, that's three decks in this stadium, not what we had [at Gwinnett]. I just want to get on that mound."

"He's an extra arm for this season," Gonzalez said. "But he can also do things for us to get a look at and prepare for next season."

Michael Radano is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.