Ernie Johnson Jr.'s not the voice of the Braves, but Atlanta fans see him as part of the team's history.
Recently lauded for leading TBS' "Inside the NBA" panel featuring Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith, Johnson is playing a similar role during the network's National League playoffs coverage.
Johnson is presiding over pregame and postgame commentary by baseball greats Jimmy Rollins, Curtis Granderson and Pedro Martinez.
The classy broadcaster's appearance on TBS brings additional joy to Atlanta fans as the Braves make their playoffs run against the Milwaukee Brewers.
While Johnson has no connection to the Braves, longtime fans remember when his father, Ernie Johnson Sr., called Braves games on the network's predecessor, Ted Turner's Channel 17 Superstation, along with Skip Caray and Pete Van Wieren. The Braves games were broadcast across the United States, building a national fan base that endures. Chip Caray, Skip’s son, calls Braves games during the regular season, now broadcast by gambling friendly Bally Sports.
The Johnson connection to the Braves-Brewer series also includes the city of Milwaukee. Ernie Johnson Sr. pitched for the Milwaukee Braves, contributing to their 1957 World Series championship.
After the Braves' thrilling victory over the Brewers Monday on pinch-hitter Joc Pederson's three-run homer, Ernie Jr. showed his Atlanta connection when he asked hometown hero Dansby Swanson how he felt playing a few miles from Marietta, where Swanson grew up. An emotional Swanson recalled cheering for the Braves during his childhood.
The Braves and Brewers series also recalls the monumental career of Henry Aaron, who died in January. Aaron played 12 seasons for the Milwaukee Braves before the team moved to Atlanta, where he broke Babe Ruth's home run record and gained recognition as perhaps the game's greatest player. The perennial all-star finished his career with the Brewers, before returning to Atlanta as a Braves executive. In later years, Aaron was beloved in Atlanta for his business success and support for civil rights causes.
Aaron was also known for connecting to new generations of players. Today's Braves and Brewers are carrying on the two cities' deep baseball histories.