Jeff Francoeur-A Brave Returns
By Doc Lawrence
KISSISSIMEE, FLORIDA-He was a Sports Illustrated cover boy, a local kid from Parkview High School who turned down a football scholarship to Clemson for a chance to become an Atlanta Brave. Jeff Francoeur, after being unceremoniously traded away years ago by the team he seemed destined to play for, is back, a full-fledged Brave once again.
The 32-year-old outfielder may just be all the glitter this edition of baseball’s Braves has, a far cry from what was once one of the most storied succession of winning years in baseball’s glorious history.
Labeled “Frenchy” by the baseball's all-time nick-namer Bobby Cox, Francoeur (who has French Canadian ancestry), combined talent with a captivating smile that once earned impressive fan loyalty during an era when the team didn’t necessarily need it.
Now, these Braves, about to leave the city for new digs, sorely needs some fresh energy and new hope. After the disasters of recent years (“Upton Mania”) and the winnowing of talent from the roster, this team is but a shell of what once was.
Maybe that smile, the kind you remember Dale Murphy flashing, will at least connect us to the baseball spirit that once was ours here in Atlanta.
My favorite memory of Francoeur wasn’t from a game. One day in the cold of winter when the Braves were still considered a dynasty, I attended a gathering at the Georgia World Congress Center. All the greats were there: Glavine, Smoltz, Chipper, et.al., but the one who had all the children and pretty girls crowded around for autographs and photos was Jeff Francoeur. He never stopped smiling and laughing. The room glowed with joy and good will.
Welcome home, Jeff. We missed you.