NEW YORK -- Somewhere in the midst of his four-year absence from baseball and just before he began a stint as a janitor, Evan Gattis found himself broke, hungry and feeling helpless at the end of a five-day trip to New York City.
"It was the biggest roller-coaster of five days in my entire life," said Gattis, the Braves' 26-year-old rookie catcher who has hit 10 home runs through the first 121 at-bats of his career.
Before going to Citi Field on Friday for the start of this weekend's series against the Mets, Gattis visited MLB's Fan Cave. His success over the first two months of his career has made him one of baseball's most popular figures. It is safe to say his position was much different approximately six years ago, when he had last visited New York.
Gattis remembers being either 19 or 20 years old when he traveled alone from Dallas to New York to visit a spiritual advisor. He stayed at the Big Apple Hostel, a Manhattan establishment that can be described as being a little different from the five-star hotel the Braves are staying in this week. When Gattis attempted to get money from an ATM machine to buy a hot dog on the fourth day of that five-day trip, he learned he was penniless. His account showed a negative $17, and he was not scheduled to fly back home out of John F. Kennedy International Airport until the next night.
"I was like, 'What am I going to do?'" Gattis said. "I just lost it. I was so beaten. I was bawling, crying. I was trying to sell clothes. I was like, 'You want a bag of clothes so I can get on a train to get to JFK?'"
A cop allowed Gattis to take the subway toward JFK, and another woman provided him entry to another train after he flashed a smile that she requested. When he arrived at the airport, he befriended a security guard who bought him some food out of a vending machine.
As his final day in New York elapsed, Gattis hung around the airport's food court attempting to find portions of meals that had not been eaten. A man Gattis remembers being from Ireland gave him the remainder of his meal and some money.
"I am standing in line at Burger King getting 10 dollars worth of burgers and starving," Gattis said. "So I'm like waiting in line and thinking I'm about to miss my flight."
Because the old van his stepbrother, Chase, was driving broke down on the grounds of Dallas-Fort Worth Airport five days earlier, Gattis nearly missed his flight to New York. When he boarded that flight, a flight attendant looked at him and said, "You're late."
When Gattis finally boarded his flight from New York with 10 hamburgers in hand, he was reintroduced to the same flight attendant, who said, "You're late again."
"I was like, 'You don't even want to know,'" Gattis said.
It seems safe to say that the flight attendant, charitable Irishman, cop and airport security guard certainly did not know this desolate soul would now currently stand as the best story in baseball.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.