From Cleaning Up To Cleanup: The Story Of Evan Gattis, Baseball Folk Hero

Evan Gattis went from junior college to janitor to cleanup batter for the Atlanta Braves.

1. The beginning.

Matt Slocum / AP

As a teenager, Evan Gattis was one of the top baseball prospects in the nation. But an early existential life crisis, coupled with an addiction to alcohol and drugs, caused him to leave the game to go find himself.

2. The journey.

For three and a half years Gattis took on odd jobs like ski-lift operator, pizza boy, and janitor to fund his personal journey, not once ever picking up his glove or bat. Instead, he went to rehab and sought out various spiritual advisors.

3. The comeback.

David J. Phillip / AP

Then in 2010, Gattis had finally found what he was looking for. As he told USA Today, “It cleared up in kind of a final way where, without a shadow of a doubt, I just knew I didn’t have to do that anymore.”

Re-energized, Gattis returned to baseball, playing one season at the University of Texas-Permian Basin, joining his step-brother — a pitcher for the team.

Chuck Myers / MCT

The Atlanta Braves drafted Gattis in the 23rd round of the 2010 draft, and after splitting time between three minor league teams, he found himself playing winter ball in Venezuela, where fans gave him the nickname “El Oso Blanco,” or “The White Bear.” (Gattis stands at 6’4” and weighs over 230 pounds).

5. The Hallmark moment.

John Amis / AP

After an impressive spring training, Gattis became a regular in the starting lineup for the Braves. And in his second major league at-bat, with his dad being interviewed in the stands, the 26-year-old rookie hit a solo home run off Phillies ace and future Hall of Famer Roy Halladay.

10. The new beginning.

Rob Carr / Getty Images

In his first eight games of the season, Gattis was batting .333 with four home runs and eight RBIs. During that time, the Braves were the hottest team in baseball, going 10-1 (Gattis DNP 3 games), sweeping the Cubs, Marlins, and Nationals along the way.

Since then, Gattis and the Braves have cooled off a bit, but the rookie has officially left his mark and stayed in heavy rotation as the clubs cleanup batter and No.1 catcher.

11. Welcome back, White Bear.

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