CUMBERLAND — Charlie Culberson said he had never had a bobblehead made after him.
“People ask me how I feel about it,” said Culberson, the Atlanta Braves utility player. “I said I have half a bobblehead now. It took me a long time.”
The bobblehead is a mash-up of Culberson and his doppelganger, Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson. Swanson’s image makes up the left side of the doll, wearing a red jersey, while Culberson is on the right, wearing a white jersey and high socks. The base of the bobblehead has the name plate “Swanberson.”
It will be given to the first 15,000 fans to enter the gates for the June 11 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Culberson found out about the bobblehead earlier this week, a day before the team announced its promotions for the upcoming season.
“(Braves senior manager of media relations) Adrienne Midgley messaged me and Dansby, ‘You have a bobblehead coming out,’” he said. “I asked what does it look like, and she said, ‘I think you already know.’”
After Culberson came to the Braves as part of a trade before the 2018 season, he and Swanson had talked about trying to play gags on people because of their resemblance, but they soon found out there was no need. With their similarly cropped beards and dark, curly hair sticking out of the back of their caps, they were mistaken for one another by just about everyone, including coaches.
“The whole year, with everyone getting confused, that was the whole thing. It’s working,” he said. “No one knew who we are. (Coach Ron Washington) would look over at me and say, ‘Hey, Swanny,’ and I’d turn around and say it’s me. They still get us confused, so we didn’t have to do anything.
“We have fun with it.”
Culberson is having fun with the bobblehead, too. He is excited about it, and even more for his son.
“Hopefully, Ace, my little boy loves it,” said the 29-year-old Culberson, who made his major league debut in 2012. “It’s like getting a baseball card. I love having a baseball card, and I collect them still. That’s a pretty cool feeling. Having a bobblehead, it’s another thing I can check off. It’s pretty neat.”
Culberson can likely expect something else neat to be coming his way. With Brian McCann returning the organization as a free agent, the longtime catcher wanted to wear his familiar No. 16, which Culberson wore last year.
Culberson fulfilled McCann’s request, switching to No. 8. McCann had said he would buy “something nice” for Culberson, but he didn’t have his sights set too high.
“They typically give a guy a watch or whatever,” Culberson said, “but I told him I don’t care. He’s Brian McCann, one of the best. He’ll probably do whatever he wants.”
Players paying teammates for a number is nothing new.
When Roger Clemens joined the Toronto Blue Jays, he gave Carlos Delgado a Rolex for his No. 21. On the other end of the scale, when Mitch Williams joined the Philadelphia Phillies, he gave John Kruk $10 and two cases of beer for No. 28.
The bar, however, was truly set in Atlanta. When Brian Jordan returned to the Braves in 2005, he bought then-third base coach Fredi Gonzalez a $40,000 motorcycle.
“He did? That’s not bad,” Culberson said. “(McCann’s) had a pretty good career and made a few dollars. I’ll hold him to it.
“Nah, it’s OK. He can do whatever he wants. He’s a Braves legend. When you think of McCann, you think of the Braves and No. 16.”