Meet the highest flying Atlanta Braves fan around

Some fans go further than others to root for the Atlanta Braves.

On Friday morning, Sirius/XM’s MLB Network Radio had the occasion to speak with a bona fide fan of the Atlanta Braves.  He also happens to be a NASA astronaut.  He’s Colonel Shane Kimbrough, US Army (retired).

Kimbrough is 53 years old and the veteran of two space missions — once aboard the Space Shuttle (November 2008/STS-126) and the other via a Russian Soyuz vehicle that ferried him to the International Space Station for 6 months over 2016-17.

While he was born in Killeen, Texas, Kimbrough grew up just outside the Atlanta perimeter road in nearby Smyra, so being a Braves fan is natural.

After high school, he joined the Army via an appointment to West Point.  A natural athlete, Kimbrough not only played for the Army’s baseball team, but he was also the team’s captain during his senior year.

After getting his 4-year degree, the Army put Kimbrough through a Master’s degree back home at Georgia Tech (Operations Research major)… and that doesn’t do his professional resume any justice whatsoever:  for more on that, see both here and here.

His interview on the mid-day Power Alley show was preceded by a phone call from one of his friends:  former Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.

Atlanta Braves

Braves fan/astronaut Col. Shane Kimbrough. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA/Getty Images)

Gonzalez discussed meeting astronaut Kimbrough one day when the Braves had him to the stadium to mingle with the team during batting practice.   The pair have kept in touch ever since.

As the radio hosts were geeking out at the chance to converse with a “real astronaut”, Kimbrough then talked about being able to keep up with games while in space.  It seems that NASA’s communications tools are pretty good.

Kimbrough was able to watch — in part — the 2016 World Series from space (the Cubs drought-breaker) and has the ability to see other MLB games from “up there”.

Guessing even MLB blackout rules don’t reach 200 miles above the surface of the earth where the Space Station is cruising along at 17,000 miles per hour.

Here’s a snippet of that interview:

Kimbrough is currently scheduled to go back into space next March as part of a crew aboard a SpaceX Dragon launch, which would be his third distinctly different craft taken into orbit.  A veteran of many spacewalks, another is planned for that mission.

Also on his list of expected tasks:  a few Braves games.

He also noted that he’ll still be above the Earth when the 2021 All-Star game rolls around next July (we hope!), scheduled for Atlanta.

In mentioning that event, Kimbrough seemed to be either hinting or hoping that the Braves might reach out to him to participate in that game in some manner.  I expect you can probably bet on that happening.

Next: Appreciating Nick

In any case, it was great to hear about a distinguished Braves fan who’s making a point to follow the team faithfully — no matter what obstacles might be in the way.  Well done, Colonel!