Former Braves catcher Lopez staying busy after retirement
by W. Brian Hale
Jun 10, 2012 | 2607 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HOOVER — As Javy Lopez took the mound to throw out the first pitch at the Birmingham Barons-Pensacola Blue Wahoos game on Thursday night, the fans in attendance at Hoover’s Regions Park rose to their feet to greet and show their vocal admiration for a former player who — for many baseball fans across the Southeast — is forever linked to an era in baseball that will never be forgotten.

For eleven seasons of his fifteen-year MLB career, Lopez was the force behind the plate for the Atlanta Braves, catching for Cy Young winners Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine, while also carving out a reputation as one of the best clutch and power-hitter catchers in the game.

Although he would spend his final playing years with the Baltimore Orioles, then later the Boston Red Sox, his legacy as the once sixteen year-old undrafted free agent turned Atlanta star will always be remembered most by his fans.

A three-time All-Star, Lopez also cemented his tenure with the Braves by being named the National League Championship Series (NLCS) Most Valuable Player in 1996, as well as winning the 2003 Silver Slugger Award, the 2003 National League Comeback Player of the Year Award and being a member of Atlanta’s 1995 World Series team.

His journey from humble beginnings in his native Puerto Rico to his rise as one of Major League Baseball’s prolific catchers is still overwhelming for Lopez to reflect upon — but one he still feels very blessed for.

“When I look back, it’s so hard to believe that I achieved all of the incredible goals that many players just dream of accomplishing,” Lopez said. “I often catch myself saying, ‘Wow, I really did that.’ I have to say that I was really grateful and fortunate to receive the opportunities that I did — with it and the drive and heart that I put into the game, those moments in my career were possible. It was a dream come true in every sense.”

Since his retirement in 2008, Lopez has been staying busy with several projects. His autobiographical book, "Behind the Plate: A Catcher's View of the Braves Dynasty" that chronicles his upbringing through his MLB career was recently released.

He is also founder and CEO of Bonesbats.com — a professional hardwood bat company where customers can customize the look, design and color of a birch, maple or ash bat to order through the website.

Through his company and the baseball tournament it sponsors, Lopez is also able to enjoy one of his favorite hobbies — spending time with fans and teaching a new generation of players the skills of the game.

“We like to give these young people the experience of swinging a wood bat like major league players do. Most young people do not get to do that because aluminum bats are frequently used at their age, so our tournaments allow them to develop their hitting earlier,” Lopez said.

“At the same time, there’s the reward for me of being out there with them and watching these young players hone their skills. It’s really a great time for them, but also for me as well.”