11/28/2011 1:40 PM ET
Branyan: Looking to power winner in '12
Slugger from the South hoping to reach first World Series
I'm from Georgia, and my wife is from Cleveland. When we got married, we lived in my hometown. We then decided to put the house up for sale and relocate. Some of my family had left the area, so we talked about different places to live and beginning a family.
We looked at both Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tenn. We also heard great things about Nashville, Tenn., and once we checked it out, we really liked it. We live in Franklin, Tenn., and during the winter, it can get a little chilly. Nashville is a great place to go and visit, especially if you like country music. I tend to be low key, though. I like to go fishing. I like to play golf and shoot sporting clays. In general, I like to stick around the house.
As a kid growing up in Georgia, I was a Braves fan. You had the luxury of having all of their games on TV, and I followed guys like Dale Murphy, Ken Oberkfell, Claudell Washington and Bob Horner. I only saw the Braves once in person as a kid. My Little League team got to go to Fulton County Stadium.
I grew up in a small town, and my brother and I would go out in the yard and play wiffle ball all the time. A pro baseball career came into focus for me during my senior year in high school. Scouts would come down to watch me. I was starting to stand out in my region, making All-Star and All-State teams. I knew I might have a chance to get drafted.
Having played for so many teams and having moved around a lot, it really is a blur. I have been playing since 1994, and it has been a long journey to get to where I am at right now. I am 35, and I am nearing the end. I have been around and played with a lot of great players. My dream has come true. There have been some disappointments along the way, but it has been a lot of fun, too.
This past season was split between the D-backs and Angels. When I had the chance to sign with the Angels, I was excited. I had some other offers, but I knew what happens here. There is a lot of good talent, a lot of good players. That drew me to this organization. Sitting on the other side of this dugout, I always respected what Mike Scioscia and this staff have done.
I think I bring a veteran presence to the team. When I was a young player, I would look at some of the older guys, and I would look at the maturity level, experience and confidence they brought. I saw that stability. Some guys are rah-rah, and some are even-keel. I think a club needs a good mix of both.
I would love to start a season with a team and be with one team a whole season and win the whole thing. Coming to Anaheim like I did midseason the goal was to win a championship, which I have never done. Reaching that plateau would be outstanding. I have been to the playoffs a few times but never the World Series.
When the career starts to wind down, that really is the focus. I'm playing to win a championship. That would be the career highlight, and that is what is on my mind.
Veteran first baseman/designated hitter Russell Branyan has popped 194 home runs over his 14 years in the big leagues. He was also one of 11 American League players to record at least 25 home runs in both the 2009 and 2010 seasons.