When the World Came to My City

19 Oct

Contrary to what you might think, this entry is not about the Olympics coming to Atlanta in 1996. On this date 20 years ago, my Atlanta Braves played in their first World Series game. As a long-suffering Braves fan, the World Series might as well have been a traveling act from some strange, faraway country in Africa. It was totally foreign to me. Like most Braves fans, I was accustomed to turning off my baseball brain sometime in mid-summer, if not sooner.

But there we were in October 1991 hanging on every pitch in a thrilling series vs. the Minnesota Twins that went the full seven games. In the end, my Braves proved themselves champions… of outdoor baseball (to steal one of my favorite headlines I saw in the AJC after that Fall Classic). Yes, my worst-to-first squad swept the three games played on real dirt and grass, in the open air, under the beautiful night sky like the sport was meant to be played (Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain or folks citing the “historical record”!).

It was a strange series as well. No Braves fan can forget Ron Gant being hoisted off of first base by Kent Hrbek and then inexplicably called out (a photo of my subsequent upper-deck banner that read “Hey Hrbek, U Gant Cheat Here!” was actually published later in a season recap book). And what about Lonnie Smith’s base-running gaffe late in Game 7?!? Ouch. Apparently destined to follow the wacky script, I didn’t even watch Game 1. Instead, I attended a James Taylor concert at Chastain Park with a date, my parents and my parents’ close friends. Talk about odd.

Another Braves first: I made my inaugural trip to Wrigley Field in Chicago in late August.

What an incredibly exciting time in Atlanta that was. Tomahawks were everywhere, including on windshield wipers. Homes, offices, bars and radio stations were all abuzz about our Braves. I distinctly remember one station modifying Billy Squier‘s “Stroke Man” song so that instead it played “Smoltzie, Smoltzie. Smoltz! Smoltz!” in the chorus in reference to our hearty hurler John Smoltz.

My father took his kids and 81-year-old father (see below blog entry) to their first World Series game, the first one in Atlanta. Four years later, the Braves would capture Atlanta’s first (and only) major professional sports championship. Fourteen years after that, my daughter would attend her first Braves game. She still has an undefeated attendance record (4-0). Earlier that same year, I was able to interview Hank Aaron in his office overlooking Turner Field.

There’s been an awful lot of heartbreak over the years with the Braves, but so many great memories. A lot of them involving firsts, like that World Series 20 years ago.

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One Response to “When the World Came to My City”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. No Sporting Chance | bleeveblog - May 15, 2016

    […] & Company, and my rebuilding Braves are buried in last place. In fact, as mid-May approached the baseball club had the seventh most wins… ON ITS HOME […]

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