These days, most professional athletes don’t do themselves many favors in the eye of the public. Take Alex Rodriguez, Richie Incognito, or Aaron Hernandez, for example. Most pro athletes tend to come across as spoiled brats who care more about their next paycheck than with connecting with their fans. Class acts in professional sports don’t come around often enough, but when they do, fans take notice. One true example of class is Tim Hudson.
Hudson, 38, joined the Braves before the 2005 season. A free agent this year, he signed a two-year, $23 million contract with the San Francisco Giants after the Braves declined to match the Giants’ offer. Over the weekend, Hudson shared an open letter to Braves fans with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His love for Atlanta shines through in this display of gratitude and emotion:
When I was traded from the Oakland A’s to the Atlanta Braves before the 2005 season, a childhood dream was realized. I grew up a Braves fan just a few hours south of Atlanta, and it was hard for me to believe that I was going to actually play for the Atlanta Braves and legendary manager Bobby Cox. My family was young. We had a toddler (Kennedie), a baby (Tess) and a baby on the way (Kade). We were welcomed into the Braves organization with open arms. Our son was born two weeks into my first season, and our journey began. The Atlanta Braves are really all that our children know about this crazy baseball life, and we are so thankful for this upbringing for them.
And to the city of Atlanta and the amazing fans in all of Braves country … my deepest thanks. Braves fans are one-of-a-kind. Your passion to win comes close to equaling that of the players that go out on the field each and every game. But when the team goes through rough patches, you’re there to encourage and cheer and believe that things will turn around. In my nine seasons, we definitely had some very high moments and some extremely disappointing moments. But one thing that I learned is this — once a Braves fan, always a Braves fan. No matter what. And as a player, that means more than you could understand.
Here comes the part that is hard for me to write without getting very emotional. … Winning divisional championships, clinching playoff spots, hitting the “occasional” home run and winning my 200th game were just a few of my favorite memories in a Braves uniform. But nothing compares with the memories that I have of meeting and spending time with some remarkable children and families fighting battles much bigger than the game of baseball. During my time with the Braves, I met kids whom I’ll never forget. Some of them are healthy and happy today, and some of them are no longer with us. But the impact that they had on me will last forever.
I may be playing baseball on the West Coast, but my home, and the home of the Hudson Family Foundation, will always be here in the South. We vow to continue to do all that we can to serve those who need us.
Thank you … everyone … for an unforgettable nine seasons as part of the Atlanta Braves organization. It will always be a significant part of who I am, both as a baseball player and as a person.
As a lifelong Braves fan, as well as a fan of Tim Hudson, I hope and pray for the best for him. I wish he could have stayed in Atlanta, especially since he left his foundation – and his heart – here. I couldn’t be more proud of a classy player and genuine great guy like Huddy.