Wednesday night, the Braves called up top prospect, Austin Riley, a 22-year-old, first round draft pick out of Mississippi State University in 2015. The Atlanta fanbase has been buzzing about him for weeks, even months on in and finally the Braves front office heard the echoes of the Braves faithful around the country. The move did come with a cost though, that cost? Placing Ender Inciarte on the Injured List with a lower back strain prior to yesterday’s second game vs. St. Louis. Austin Riley, a rookie, looked as if he was in mid-season form, going 1-for-3 with his first Major League home run coming in his second-career at-bat. A ball that traveled 438 feet with an exit velocity of 109 MPH and a launch angle of 27 degrees. He was a force to be reckoned with. Austin Riley has 14 homers in his last 70 at-bats including the minor leagues and last night, that’s a .200 average. This man will be a legend. Get used to his face, he’ll be here a long time. I would be surprised if he isn’t still in an Atlanta uniform after Inciarte returns from injury. He definitely has a future in Atlanta and something tells me he’s just heating up. Only time will tell.
For many people, they think that Turner Field was the original home of the Atlanta Braves, but it was actually Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, which served as the Home of the Braves from 1966 to 1996. In fact, it saw four World Series appearances (’91, ’92, ’95, ’96) and one World Series title (’95). It also hosted the 1972 MLB All-Star Game, this is the place where the person whom many still consider the home run king, Hank Aaron, hit his 500th, 600th, 700th and 715th home runs. The hallowed grounds of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium saw three Cy Young Award winners during its tenure as the Home of the Braves, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine in the late 1990s. The stadium closed on October 24, 1996, the year before the Braves moved across the street to the famed Turner Field. Although it was no longer being used as a baseball stadium, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was turned into a parking lot for Turner Field. Even after being turned into a parking lot, the concrete still contained the outline of the original infield outline and the original wall as well as marker commemorating Aaron’s historic record-breaking 715th home run. The parking lot is still being used today and serves guests of Georgia State Stadium (formerly Turner Field), which currently serves the Georgia State University Panthers football program.
Ahh Turner Field, the place where I first saw Chipper Jones in person and where I spent more summer days in the sweltering Georgia heat. In the early 2000’s I had gone to visit relatives that live in Georgia with my parents. While in Georgia, we decided to catch a Braves game which I had only seen on TV at the time. Back in those days Vinny Castilla was the third baseman, Chipper Jones, who later moved in to play third, Rafael Furcal was the shortstop with insanely athletic movements. Andruw Jones was in center field, Javy Lopez, the catcher, Bobby Cox, the manager etc. as I mentioned before I had only seen them play on TV but I had spent many years studying the players and the game. So I was anxious to finally catch a game in person. The morning of the game, I jumped from the bed in excitement as I knew today was the day that I had waited on my entire lifetime. Atlanta was playing their arch-rival the New York Mets and as a Braves fan, it’s only right to hate “the team from Queens.” I still don’t like them to this day. When we pulled up and I saw the Turner Field marquee in the distance, chills were sent down my spine. Then we pulled our car into the parking lot and immediately I blurted out the ESPN SportsCenter theme. You know, the highlight song. In fact, that day Chipper Jones, my favorite player, hit a home run over the center field wall that measured 400 feet from home plate that gave the Braves a lead that they would not relinquish. In 2016 however, Turner Field stopped operating as the home of the Atlanta Braves, it serves the Georgia State University Panthers football program as their home field. That place is where I met so many people and had so many memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. Like that one time in 2013, when I met legendary Braves usher Walter Banks who has served as an usher for the Braves since they moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee in 1966. In fact, he can tell you anything you want to know about the Braves just by being asked about a number. The Braves have since moved to Cobb County, Georgia and SunTrust Park, which I intend to visit in the near future. They say every good thing must come to an end. But to me, Turner Field will always be the Home of the Braves. So long, old friend thanks for the many, many memories.
Next entry: The Time I Named My Dog after Chipper Jones.