Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan needs to come around to Braves games more often, as far as Eric Hinske is concerned.
The Braves left fielder jacked a home run in Wednesday night’s 6-2 win over the Rays after telling Ryan that afternoon that he was going to do just that.
Ryan had met Hinske, Chipper Jones, Jason Heyward, Bobby Cox and others at batting practice before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch Wednesday night.
“He was standing out in the tunnel, signing some stuff, and I said, ‘Man, nice to meet you,’” Hinske said. “‘Make sure you’re watching because I’m going deep tonight.’ He’s like ‘All right, bro.’”
As Hinske launched his fifth home run of the season on a shot to right field in the sixth inning, a fired up Ryan cheered with friends and family from the balcony of a luxury suite at Turner Field.
Ryan told a Braves’ public relations official afterward that Wednesday was one of the “coolest” experiences of his life, and the Hinske home run was a big part of it.
“That’s cool,” Hinske said Thursday.
Hinske told Ryan he’d been watching him on TV since he was playing quarterback at Boston College and Hinske was playing for the Red Sox. He also had Ryan on three of his fantasy football teams.
“I told him he was balling for me until he went down with that toe injury, and I had to start (Steelers QB) Ben Roethlisberger after that,” Hinske said. “I just told him good luck this year and to stay healthy… He seemed like a great guy. Good dude to be the face of that organization.”
Hinske, who is 6-2, 235, played running back on his high school team growing up in Menasha, WI and is a big Green Bay Packers.
“I’d rather be a football player, than a baseball player,” Hinske said. “But there’s a lot more longevity in this game here….(But) I could put 30 more pounds on tomorrow if you want me to.”
Hinske tried to give Ryan a taste of the pro baseball life on Wednesday, offering his bat to Ryan by the batting cage.
“I tried to get him to hit,” Hinske said. “But nobody would let him hit because they don’t want him to pull an oblique.”