The Atlanta Braves Didn’t Have a Fire Sale Even When They Had a Fire. I’m not joking. That’s the truth.
You’re talking to an Atlanta fan that goes way back to the time of the Atlanta Crackers. Crackers? That’s politically incorrect in today’s world. That was their name. What am I supposed to do, come up with a town around Atlanta at the time with a more appropriate name, maybe like the Hapeville Hornets, or the College Park Cougars, or the East Point Essayists? That last one is thrown in for all of those who may have thought we were all illiterate.
I can remember sitting in Ponce de Leon Park, the home base of the Atlanta Crackers, the night Eddie Mathews hit that baseball with the correct number of stitches dead on the sweet spot of the bat, and just about equaled Robert Redford’s shot that hit the stadium lights in “The Natural”.
You see straightaway centerfield was about 400 feet or 410, and then there was a terrace running another 20 feet. That’s when the kudzu joined in and ran uphill past a magnolia tree at least 475 to 500 feet from home plate. The kudzu continued uphill until it came to a fence beyond which there were four or five railroad tracks.
Into the night Eddie’s tremendous wallop went until it hit squarely in the middle of that magnolia tree. The expression really applied—if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.
One of those times I was at the old ball park for a Sunday doubleheader, the Atlanta first baseman connected on one over the four or five rows of signs in right field, beyond the fence I had already mentioned, and hit a moving train. You could see the train engineer stick his head out that little side window in the engine, and look around to make sure he hadn’t gone loco in his locomotive, and that a baseball actually hit his train. As awesome as that sounds, the baseball traveled no more than 400 feet.
And there was the time the New York Yankees played Atlanta in an exhibition game, stopping on their way north after spring training. Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio played a couple of innings, and came to bat once, then had a seat. That was customary in those days, where the manager took no chances on a possible injury with his stars playing for nine innings. It was still worth the price of admission to see Joltin’ Joe glide in the outfield to catch a ball or two, and that one at-bat. Willie Mays had that almost effortless appearing motion in the outfield, but I never saw Willie in person.
That brings us to the Atlanta Braves fire a few years ago. They weren’t having a fire sale, in fact I think that was the first game Fred McGriff played first base for the Braves, and it was accompanied by his significant salary, which turned out to be worth every penny they paid him. The fire, as I recall, was along about the press box level. Maybe one of the baseball writers got to typing so fast it ignited something. Anyway when the fire was out, the game continued.
That brings us to this year. I haven’t totally kept up with the players who have been traded to other teams. I do believe it would require the memory of a computer.
The only thing this upcoming season that may look the same as last season is the stadium itself. But that’s short-lived, because the Braves are building a new stadium over in Cobb County. That’s Cobb as in Ty Cobb, and Cobb Memorial Hospital. Is it next year or 2017 when they’re moving?
Ty didn’t make much money playing baseball, but it is rumored he got a hold of some Coca Cola stock, and we know what that did. Maybe he chipped in a couple of bucks, and that’s how Cobb Memorial Hospital wound up as Cobb Memorial Hospital.
Regardless, the season will go on. Last season the Braves couldn’t get a hit when they had men on base, and needed to score some runs. This season I guess we won’t even get men on base, and have to worry about getting a hit to score some runs.
But we Braves’ fans who are too distant to attend games, will sit glued to the TV, watching those guys we traded away come to Atlanta and beat the stuffings out of our Braves.