I just realized something: I’m going to miss the Braves.
No, this has nothing to do with their current record. As a Vanderbilt football fan – not to mention a Braves fan long before the mid-1990s – I don’t expect victories.
In fact, there’s something endearing about calling the ticket office and asking what time the game starts and having them ask you what time you can get there.
This is about something else: Location, location, location.
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Sure, the Braves are moving just 15 miles north, but for somebody who lives in the Chattahoochee Valley, they might as well be moving to Cincinnati.
Gone will be the days when you can leave work at 5 and sneak into the city from the south side, park in one of those private lots off Hank Aaron Drive, and be sitting in your seat before the 7:05 first pitch.
And when the game is over, while everybody else is sitting in a traffic jam, you’ll no longer be able to hang a left onto Hank Aaron, head south to I-85 and be tucked in your bed in 90 minutes.
Going, going gone.
Here’s another thing I’m going to miss: Eating homemade peach pie in a major league ballpark.
This tradition started when Bess and I lived in Athens and met some friends for a game at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. John Smoltz was pitching against Hideo Nomo of the Dodgers.
Bess was the one who knocked it out of the park, bringing along one of her famous peach pies with the handmade crust. Yes, the Braves actually allowed fans to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages into the ballpark provided it was packed in soft containers so you wouldn’t injure somebody if you got excited and threw a casserole dish onto the field.
The team abolished this practice when it moved to Turner Field in 1997, but reinstated it a couple of months later when Ted Turner himself complained about concession prices.
That policy is the big reason we’ve attended so many Braves games since having four children and moving to Columbus in 2001.
Before we left the house, I’d fire up the grill and make the sausage sandwiches the kids like and wrap them in foil, and Bess would fix a pasta salad and of course a pie. We’d also pack up waters and sodas and throw in a bunch of Star Crunch and Buddy Bars and large bags of peanuts in the shell.
Sometimes we’d switch it up and pick up a bucket of chicken.
When we’d arrive at The Ted, we knew where to find the line for dollar tickets; it wasn’t exactly well marked or advertised. So our family of six would attend a major league baseball game for the grand total — counting $10 parking and not counting gasoline and the price of food and drinks we brought from home — of $16.
Sometimes we’d splurge on ballpark hot dogs, or Bess would convince me to buy myself a $6.75 beer.
One Sunday afternoon, I took all four children to the ballpark by myself for a special “Free Tickets for Kids” promotion.
At the ticket window, I had two questions. Could I really buy one ticket and get four free tickets for my children? And did this apply to any seats?
Yes and yes. So I bought five $90 tickets right behind home plate for the price of one. The kids sat bug-eyed for the first three innings. Sure, there was a bit of a letdown on our next trip when we returned to the dollar seats, but it was worth it.
I don’t expect any such deals or bring-your-own arrangements next season at SunTrust Park in Cobb County — if we can ever make it up to northwest Atlanta.
To borrow a favorite catch-phrase from Bobby Cox:
It was a special run, that’s for sure. Things don’t last forever, that’s for sure.
I’ll miss it. That’s for sure.