Braves' Longest Tenured Employee Is Waiting For Baseball To Return
As the Atlanta Braves wait to return to the baseball field, many of the team’s seasonal employees are also in limbo.
That includes the Braves’ longest tenured game day employee, 80-year-old Walter Banks.
For the first time in a long time, Banks isn’t interacting with fans from across Georgia at the ballpark, doing three of his favorite things.
“Meet, greet and talk,” Banks said with a laugh.
As an usher, Banks began his career in 1965, working for the minor league Atlanta Crackers before the Braves came to town. He has gone on to become one of the most enduring members of the organization.
Give him any number or date, and Walter can link it back to an interesting fact. During every Braves home game, he can be found making connections with fans while making his rounds through the stadium.
Last year, Banks was honored with a special exhibit that chronicled his career. He even got his own ‘Bobblehead Night’ at SunTrust Park.
But now, he and his coworkers are stuck at home, unsure of when work will return.
“When spring arrives, your body just starts getting (ready) for Braves baseball when things start coming alive,” Banks said.
In the meantime, the Braves have created a $1 million fund to pay stadium employees during the hiatus.
Banks says his coworkers have also been a source of strength during this uncertain time. Before the season went on hiatus in March, Banks and a few friends traveled to Florida for Spring Training, getting a little taste of the sport to help tide him over.
“It was a beautiful experience to see some of the players and coaches,” Banks said. “That was a good flashback and a good feeling. If everyone had coworkers like me, what a beautiful world this would be.”
Although his livelihood and favorite pastime is on hold, Banks says patience is necessary before baseball can return.
“It’s hard to do without a good thing, and good things come to those who wait,” Banks said. “We’ve been waiting and its springtime now. (Soon), it’ll be our time.”
Major League Baseball is expected to return to action this summer with a limited schedule, although the final details are still being worked out.