Three days after winning the franchise’s first World Series title in 26 years, the Braves celebrated in and around downtown Atlanta on Friday.
According to police estimates, approximately 300,000 to 400,000 fans showed up to celebrate the Braves, who closed out the Houston Astros in six games on Tuesday night.
Several Braves players spoke to the energized crowd, with one of the popular topics being the importance of re-signing star first baseman Freddie Freeman, who will be a free agent this winter.
“It might get me in trouble, but re-sign Freddie,” said shortstop Dansby Swanson, a native of nearby Marietta, Ga.
As for Freeman, a Braves stalwart for the last decade, he enjoyed every moment of the championship run.
“I’ve been asked a lot over the last few days, has it hit me yet?” Freeman said. “I kept saying, ‘No, I’m just numb.’ But today, it’s hit me. We’re world champions forever.”
Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, watched the parade from a private suite at Truist Park before returning to quarantine at home with his family.
“That parade was the most incredible thing we’ve ever experienced,” Anthopoulos said, according to MLB.com. “We’re going to be world champions, every single one of us in this stadium, for the rest of our lives.”
The championship parade began at the spot where Braves legend Hank Aaron’s record-breaking 715th career home run landed at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in 1974.
Many in Atlanta believe that Aaron, who died earlier this year, was looking down on this year’s team. The Braves won 44 games before the All-Star break and 44 games after the All-Star break before winning it all during the 44th week of the year. Aaron, of course, wore No. 44 during his legendary career.
His widow, Billye Aaron, spoke at Friday’s celebration.
“The chickens have come home to roost this time,” she said. “The spirit of Hank Aaron pervades this space. He is here with us. He loves the Atlanta Braves and I am so very, very happy to see these young men who have picked up the mantle and who have carried it on.”