El Oso Blanco aka Evan Gattis is a 26-year-old rookie catcher for the Atlanta Braves who has already been named NL Rookie of the Month twice this season. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t seen his highlights, Gattis is an absolute beast. The guy doesn’t wear batting gloves and mashes home runs like he’s got a personal vendetta against the baseball. The only thing more impressive than his stats is the road Gattis took to reach the Major Leagues, which is part Happy Gilmore, part Season 2 of Eastbound & Down, and entirely fascinating. I give you The Legend of El Oso Blanco:
Gattis grew up in Texas and was all set to attend Texas A&M on a baseball scholarship until he got his Kenny Powers on and derailed his collegiate career by abusing alcohol and smoking weed. Some say he was self medicating, but to me it just looks like Gattis liked to party and wasn’t mature enough at the time to have his head on straight. Instead of attending Texas A&M, he went to Prescott, Arizona, where he participated in an outpatient program to battle his addictions and anxiety. He later enrolled at Seminole State College in Oklahoma, where he red-shirted for a year, played half a season, injured his knee, and then quit baseball altogether. Gattis pretty much told the game of baseball, “you’re f*cking out!”
This is where Evan Gattis’ life started to play out like the opening credits of Happy Gilmore. After quitting baseball, he was a parking valet in Dallas, Texas. Then he moved to Boulder, Colorado, where he became a ski-lift operator and a pizza boy. A few months later he moved back to Dallas and became a janitor. After his 2nd stint in Dallas, Gattis followed a “spiritual advisor” and moved to New Mexico where he lived in a hostel and worked at a ski resort. He then moved to California to be with more spiritual gurus, until his move to Wyoming where he worked at Yellowstone National Park. He did all this in the span of 4 years until his return to college baseball in 2010.
After a season at University of Texas of the Permian Basin, the Braves drafted Gattis in the 23rd round. Over the course of the following 2 years, Gattis played for 4 minor league teams before he starred in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he put up monster power numbers and earned the nickname “El Oso Blanco,” Spanish for “The White Bear.” Much like Kenny Powers paved his way back to the Major Leagues playing for El Charros in Mexico, Evan Gattis was called up to the Braves for spring training after his stint in Venezuela.
After putting up huge numbers in the Grapefruit League and with Brian McCann starting the season on the disabled list, Gattis made the Braves’ opening day roster and hit his first Major League home run in his 2nd at bat. The rest, is history (or history in the making I should say). As a result of Gattis’ unexpected emergence as an absolute stud, his lore among Atlanta Braves fans has grown to rival that of Chuck Norris. “Gattis Facts” are all the rage across the interwebs, and here are some of the best:
“Evan Gattis doesn’t flush the toilet, he scares the crap out of it”
“Evan Gattis killed the first man he met with just his firm handshake”
“Evan didn’t shoot the bear in the photo, the bear took off its skin for Gattis”
“Evan Gattis doesn’t inject PED’s, PED’s inject Evan Gattis”
“Gattis has been chewing the same piece of gum since birth. It’s too scared to lose its flavor”
“Because of Canada’s ban on assault weapons the Braves have to get a special permit to bring Gattis into Toronto on Monday”
“Evan Gattis taught Rosetta Stone all those languages”
“Evan Gattis ate the bones. And the package. And the table. And the walls.”
“Evan Gattis wears a protective cup for the safety of others”