ATLANTA -- It has been 11 years since Mark Lemke played for Atlanta, but he says he now feels as much a part of the Braves' family as he ever has.
His reasoning is simple: his current job, hosting the pre- and postgame shows for the Braves Radio Network, keeps him close to the game. It's an entirely new arena for the former second baseman, who became a fan favorite with his tenacity and superb defense.
"A lot of things in life, you don't know until you try it," Lemke said. "And I absolutely love what I'm doing right now."
Even if it isn't what Lemke envisioned he would be doing after playing his final Major League game in 1998.
Before taking the radio job five years ago, he auditioned to be an assistant coach for the Braves. But his right arm began bothering him when he was forced to throw repeatedly during practices, and he knew he wasn't cut out for the job.
With that dream dashed, Lemke was assured by radio executives that he would make for an excellent talk-radio host. And knowing it would keep him close to the sport and team he loved, he took the job.
"It makes it feel like you're still part of the family and now you get to meet the new guys, too," said Lemke, who turned 43 this week. "It's great."
So, Lemke now finds himself in a familiar setting. On game days, he sits in manager Bobby Cox's small office in the bowels of Turner Field, or takes a seat in the dugout and chats with fellow media members. He said he will continue with this line of work as long as he enjoys coming to the ballpark every day.
"I'm satisfied doing what I'm doing," he said.
Lemke's role recently expanded, and he became the color analyst, alongside Pete Van Wieren, after the late Skip Caray became too ill to travel for road games. And as the Braves and the rest of baseball mourned the passing of Caray this season, Lemke couldn't help but think of the impact the legendary announcer had on his blossoming career.
"He was a great friend and not only a great broadcaster, but he was someone who I enjoyed being around during my playing days," Lemke said of Caray, who passed away on Aug. 3. "All the great things people say about him are true. His humor was right up my alley."
Ryan Lavner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.