I’ve interviewed some big-name athletes in my day–Shaq, MJ, Peyton Manning–and the only ones that still get me all googly-eyed include a flyswatting second-baseman, a flash-in-the-pan fireball pitcher, and one of the most envied men on the planet:

Yeah, that’s me, and that’s former Atlanta Brave Dave Justice. We hung together for a half-hour or so at the Atlanta Braves’ annual Hall of Fame luncheon on Friday. Every table got a former or current Brave player or team member–the less-lucky tables ended up with trainers; ours ended up with Mr. Justice. And through some stroke of luck, he and I ended up sitting next to one another, and I turned goofy fanboy again. I must have bored him out of his skull peppering him with questions about the early 90s, current and former players, living in Atlanta (but no Halle Berry questions, sorry), but he damn sure LOOKED happy answering every one.

This year marked the tenth anniversary of the Braves’ world champion team of 1995, and just about everybody from that team with the exception of current players Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Javy Lopez returned for the ceremonies. And for a Braves freak like me, it was like the reunion of the Beatles…Steve Avery, Mark Lemke, Jeff Blauser, and so many others, along with current players John Smoltz and Chipper Jones…man, I was in baseball heaven. And that evening, I had great interviews with Chipper and the Padres’ Ryan Klesko for an April ’06 Richmond Magazine article…son, it don’t get no better than that.

The great weekend was tempered by some unfortunate news from a close friend. It’s their family’s business so I won’t go into it here…but get well soon, Joli Vega.


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