Long Time Coming: My First Trip to Truist Park

I went to my very first Braves game at Turner Field in either 2000 or 2001, back when the Braves had that daunting starting rotation that included three then-future Hall of Famers in Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz, who was often used in a closing role back then. Perhaps you’ve heard of them.

Those were the days of Rafael Furcal at shortstop, Matt Franco at first, Julio Franco at second, Vinny Castilla at third or catching, Chipper Jones at third or in left, Eddie Perez catching, Andruw Jones in center, Marcus Giles at second, and Wilson Bettimit in right, Javy Lopez catching, and of course the skipper, Bobby Cox.

I don’t remember if we won or lost that day due to my young age at the time, but I do know that Tom Glavine was the starting pitcher that day.

Fast forward 20 or so years and I’ve finally made it to my first game at Truist Park, the new home of the Braves that opened back in 2017.

Usually, we get there early enough to watch the Braves take batting practice, but we had trouble with the mobile ticketing deal going on nowadays due to COVID, so we had missed them by the time we entered the stadium, which I was kinda upset by, but it was okay, I was more concerned about the game anyway.

Before the game, I went to the Braves Clubhouse Store to get another hat (shocking, I know, but I just have to get a new hat at every game).

Afterwards, we walked over to Monument Garden near section 125, where I had my picture taken with Hank Aaron’s 1969 jersey, Tom Glavine’s 1995 jersey, Dale Murphy’s 1982 jersey, the Hank Aaron Award, a champagne bottle that was used after the Braves won the 1995 World Series Championship, in front of a picture of Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox, in front of all of the hats Hank Aaron hit a home run with, the 1995 World Series trophy and even a time capsule that will be opened in April 2042.

The Braves shutout Tampa Bay 9-0, to improve to 44-10 in games I attend. 43-10 at home and 1-0 on the road. If you haven’t been to Truist Park, you need to go. Trust me when I tell you, there’s something there for literally everyone.

See you in 2022, Truist Park! It was nice meeting you!

(All 755 of Hank’s home run bats)
Hank’s 1974 jersey he was wearing when he passed Babe Ruth)
(Hank Aaron Statue, beside which his casket sat during memorial services for him at Truist Park in January)
(World Series Trophy)
(Time Capsule)
(Hank’s 1969 jersey)
(Tom Glavine’s 1995 jersey)
(Dale Murphy’s 1982 jersey)
(Champagne bottle used to spray champagne in celebration of the 1995 championship)
(Half of the retired numbers. Murphy, Cox, Chipper, Spahn, Smoltz, Maddux)

All is Right With the World: Baseball is Back

For fans like myself, who grew up around and love the game of baseball. After waiting all offseason plus four more months.

You add that up and you’ll get 267 days of boredom, waiting, impatience, and so much more.

But for me, all is right considering that the Braves are off to a (2-1) season after the first series of the season.

Following a well-pitched 1-0 loss on Opening Day Friday, Atlanta found the New York Mets weakness and pulled out two consecutive wins.

Saturday, the Braves were literally down to their last strike, but then game newcomer Marcell Ozuna, who blasted a game-tying home run and then Dansby Swanson scored the game-winning run in the top of the tenth.

On Sunday, the Braves brought out what we’ve been waiting all offseason to see, a 17-hit, 14-run outburst to cruise past the Mets 14-1.

Tonight the Braves will take on the Tampa Bay Rays for two games in Tampa, Florida, and the Rays will follow the Braves back to Atlanta for two more Wednesday and Thursday.

Baseball is back and everything is right in my world.

Never Forget the Value of Life

Last night, the Montgomery Biscuits, the Double-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, suddenly cancelled their scheduled doubleheader with the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, due to what was first described as a “tragic event within the Biscuits family” according to the Montgomery Biscuits Twitter handle. Later in the night/early morning hours, news broke that Blake Bivens, a 24-year-old pitcher in the Montgomery organization had lost his wife, 14-month-old child and mother-in-law to a triple-homicide that occurred in Virginia according to WSFA, a local news station based in Montgomery, Alabama and the suspect is related, in some way to the Biscuits pitcher from Sutherland, Virginia. As I continued to read of this unimaginable tragedy, I found myself asking these questions in my head ‘What was going through the suspect’s mind when this occurred?’, ‘How did he find out?’ Surely, the suspect was not in the right state of mind when this horrible tragedy was taking place. Surely, somebody got in touch with Bivens in some way. I can’t imagine how the Sutherland, Virginia native must feel knowing that some of his most prized possessions on Earth were ripped from his hands in an instant. My heart breaks for him and all of those effected by this. The point is, at no point is life ever so bad that you have to suddenly rip the lives of innocent people apart. It’s never that bad, yes, I know life gets tough, but it’s never so tough that you should feel the need to tear the lives of innocent people away. May God be present in Bivens’ life and let him know how much he was loved and cherished by those three undeserving victims. May God show mercy upon the victim as he awaits his fate. Folks, may we never forget the value of life. No matter ethnicity, background or age of other people, they all deserve to be loved, not killed. If you take the life or lives of innocent people, not only are you taking their lives, you’re taking away pieces of other people’s lives that loved them dearly. May we never forget the value of life and the people that surround us. Treat people as you would like to be treated.

Picture Source: Bleacher Report

Atlanta Heats Up, Avoids first five-game skid

Sunday, the Atlanta Braves (21-20) boarded the Atlanta-bound plane with a 6-4 record over their most recent 10-game road trip which included a convincing sweep of the Miami Marlins (10-29) to begin the 10-game stretch. Next on the schedule was a dreaded to trip to the West Coast, for three dates with Justin Turner and the NL West leading Los Angeles Dodgers (27-19). The West Coast swing ended in being swept by the Dodgers. Then came a trip to the desert to face a Diamondbacks club (22-19) that had recently lost a series to the Tampa Bay Rays (24-15). So things were looking like Atlanta might only get wins in Miami and maybe out in Arizona if the bats could wake up. The Arizona series started with a loss to the Diamondbacks on Thursday. But then resulted in three consecutive wins to head back to the friendly confines on a high note. The Braves avoided their first five-game skid since they lost six straight from September 25-30, 2017. That’s a span of about a year and a half without losing five-straight contests.

What’s Next for Atlanta?

Starting Tuesday, May 14, 2019 and ending Thursday, May 16, 2019, the Braves will welcome the St. Louis Cardinals (22-19) to SunTrust Park to begin a six-game home stand. Which includes a visit from Milwaukee (24-18) on Friday through Sunday. Will the Midwest momentum hang around? Find out beginning Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 7:20pm ET when the Cardinals visit Atlanta.

A Visit With the Montgomery Biscuits

The year was 2014 and I had recently been on visits with the Jacksonville State Gamecocks and the Auburn Tigers. I was sitting at home when my mom got a Facebook message from a mutual friend whose son I went to high school with asking if I would be interested in visiting with the Biscuits. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Montgomery Biscuits, they are the Double-A affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays. I couldn’t believe what I had just been told, I was 16 at the time and I knew might only get the opportunity once, so I took the offer up. I would be in the press box at Riverwalk Stadium, the same stadium which at one time saw the likes of Evan Longoria, BJ Upton and David Price grace its diamond. I would attend the game on June 3rd, 2014 vs. the Huntsville Stars and I could hardly wait. The Huntsville Stars were the Double-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. I had been to Riverwalk Stadium before but I had never been in the press box there. When the day finally got here, I was thrilled and headed to the stadium as soon as I could. When I got to the press box I was greeted by Aaron Vargas, who was The Voice of the Biscuits at the time. The Biscuits went on to win the game that night. If you have an opportunity at chasing your dream at a higher level, take it you never know if you’ll get that opportunity again but also remain grateful and humble.

Next piece: A Visit with the Auburn-Montgomery Warhawks.