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Otis Junior Nixon Jr. didn't need a primer to know what all those folks snaking through Hamilton Place mall for the Atlanta Braves Caravan wanted to talk to him about Tuesday evening.

"The catch. They all want to talk about the catch," said Nixon, referring to the spectacular over-the-wall grab he made of a bomb launched from the bat of Pittsburgh's Andy Van Slyke on July 25, 1992.

"But that's OK. It was a pretty good grab."

It was a pretty good crowd of several hundred strong that came to get the autographs of Nixon and current Braves Jordan Schafer, Jo-Jo Reyes, Mike Minor, James Parr and assistant general manager Bruce Manno.

Beverly and Bill Krause arrived at the mall at 2 p.m. to be the first in line for the event, which began a few minutes after 5. The LaFayette residents collected autographs from everyone in a Braves jersey but were most excited about meeting Nixon.

"That catch is rated as one of the top nine catches ever," Bill Krause said. "We got everybody's autograph, though. I think they're going to do fine this year. They might not win the division, but I think they'll get the wild card."

The Krauses are such big fans that they plan to head to spring training in March. Bill even drove to a caravan stop in Suwanee, Ga., on Monday to get Braves manager Bobby Cox's autograph.

"He was just like his old self," Krause said of Cox, who will retire at the end of the season. "Same as always."

Chattanooga fans would have been glad to know Nixon's younger brother Donell looks pretty much the same as he did when he stole 102 bases one season for the Lookouts.

"I remember the 102," the younger Nixon said. "I also remember the first base I stole after a rehab. It was in Chattanooga, too, and I grabbed the base after I did it and held it over my head like Rickey Henderson and screamed, 'I'm back! I'm back!"

Bob Bentley rarely makes it back down to Atlanta anymore to watch the Braves live, but the 76-year-old Chickamauga resident still "watches them every time they're on TV. I do think we're going to miss Bobby Cox when he's gone. There will never be another one like him."

Michael Smith brought his 8-year-old son Major to see the Braves. The home-schooled Major called the event "huge." Like most young Braves fans, he also labeled Chipper Jones his favorite player.

But for his 48-year-old father it was all about "Otis, my man. Everybody remembers that catch. It was definitely a treat to see him."

Once upon a time, it was a treat for Jacob Clingan to be Otis. He was 5 years old and going to Bible school at Central Baptist Church, where his father Barry was a youth minister. When it came time to tell the teachers his name for his name tag, he told them, "Otis Nixon," which they wrote.

Jacob's grandmother, Madalyn Thornburg, came to Hamilton Place on Tuesday hoping to see the real Nixon.

"Jacob's a senior at Tennessee now," said Thornburg, who said she watches the Braves all the time on television during the summer. "When I saw Otis Nixon was going to be here, I just thought I had to come get his autograph for my grandson."

Schafer may not have Nixon's autograph, but he intends to take up as much of the former center fielder's time as Nixon will permit.

"I've always studied older players," the 23-year-old Schafer said. "I've watched a lot of film on Joe DiMaggio. Those older guys always played hard. Otis is so well respected around the game. Just riding on the bus with him today, and knowing he's coming down to spring training for four or five days -- there's so much I can learn from him. Especially the mental part."

Nixon quickly agreed, saying, "Between the ears is where you win this game."

Some might say between the ears is where Nixon most struggled with the game. Having endured multiple failed marriages, having struggled to overcome cocaine addiction during his 17-year major league career, Nixon now runs On-Track Ministries and has written a book "Keeping It Real."

"I just feel I have a story to share," Nixon said.

Judging from the crowd at Hamilton Place, there are still plenty of Braves fans eager to hear it.

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