TURNER FIELD, ATLANTA GA., 5/5-5/6/2007, DODGERS VS. BRAVES

There was actually a time when the Dodgers and Braves had some hotly contested meetings between each other.  When division play was introduced in 1969, there was the Eastern and Western Division in both leagues .  And for whatever reason, the Atlanta Braves and Cincinatti Reds were placed in the West while the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals were placed in the East.  So we can only assume that the good lords of baseball at the time flunked geography. 

As for the Dodgers and Braves, the two teams would engage is some heated battles in the early eighties as well as in 1991.  In both ’82 and ’83, the Dodgers and Braves took turns winning the Western Division, and in 1991, the Braves would start a run of 14 consecutive division titles. 

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NL WEST CHAMPS 1991-1993, NL EAST CHAMPS 1995-2005

During those classic battles for the NL West, each of those titles were decided on the final weekend of the season.  Then the formation of 3 divisions along with re-alignment soothed the rivalry somewhat with the Braves now playing in its rightful place in the Eastern Divison. 

MY TRIP TO ATLANTA

Upon  arriving to Atlanta, after a hearty lunch at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack I headed to the Auburn community  where Dr. Martin Luther King was raised. 

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The Ebeneezer Baptist Church

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Inside the Ebineezer Baptist Church

As part of the National Park Service it mainly serves as a museum today.  Once a year, during Kings birthday, service is performed here.  MLK Sr. would continue to perform service here until 1975.  During the year, you can hear audio tapes of Dr. Kings speeches.

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Ebineezer Baptist Chruch, Today

Located across the street from the original, this is where church services are performed

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The Tomb

Where Dr. King and wife Coretta our buried, at the King Center

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Dr. Kings Birth Home

As we celebrated the legacy of Dr. King this past weekend, I watched a documentary on the History Channel and while many may know of his tireless work for unity and non-violent protest, he also spoke out on many other causes beyond segragation and bigotry, including his stance against the VietNam War, in which he took a lot of heat for.  I always admired Dr. King, and after watching this history lesson, my admiration for this great American only grew.

TURNER FIELD

On my first night here, I made it a point to arrive early to snap some shots of the remnants of old Fulton County Stadium.

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Now used for parking, the outlines of where the Braves once called home

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The old marker where Hammerin’ Hanks 715th landed

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You all may have seen images of Hank Aaron doing his trot after 715 and the 2 guys running behind him celebrating his feat. 

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The view outside Turner Field.  Note the pillars in front of the cars.  Turner Field was used for the 1996 Summer Olympics.  After the Olympics, some of the stands were torn down to make it a baseball only  stadium.  The area where the temporary stands were are now the main plaza for fans entering the stadium

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The plaza where many fans meet up before the game

 

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HAMMERIN HANK

Here to greet you upon your entry

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Hangin’ with Hammerin’ Hank

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THE HEAVY HITTAZ

Pre and Post game entertainment.  I love drumlines…..

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THE BIG DRUM

 Bang that drum !!!!!

 

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BRAVES DUGOUT

The Braves dugout from Fulton County Stadium, located in the Braves Museum behind the left field stands

 

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COKE IS IT

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The equipment that makes up the coke bottle.  This huge bottle is located up at the Coke Skyfield in the upper reaches of the left field corner.  A nice grassy play area is there for the little fans.

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Running to first with his tomahawk

 

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The view from the Coke Skyfield

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GAMETIME, 5/5/2007

The view from my upper level seat in front of a near sell-out crowd

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One of the largest and most impressive video boards in the majors

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Day game, 5/6/2007

From the left field seats

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STROLLING THE PLAZA

While strolling the plaza beyond the outfield stands, that huge baseball, behind the CF Scoreboard, is the ball Hank hit for 715.  Above the team store , so that you arent missing the action on the field, is a monitor that shows live game action.  What’s also cool is the line score and the player at bat being displayed.  At bat here is some up and coming Dodger here, someone the league will fear some day…..Andre Ethier !!!!!!  ( I thought I’d get that in .  A biased Dodger fan talking here…… )

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OUTFIELD MURAL

Honoring past Braves greats  ( HEY MCCOURT, DIDNT WE USED TO HAVE AN OUTFIELD MURAL TOO ? ) 

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Here I am, reppin’ the Blue, while showing off my souvenier tomahawk.

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RETIRED NUMBERS

Another feature out in the fan plaza.  Above is Dale Murphy, and of course below who can forget Hank Aaron.  There are more numbers besides these 2 out in the plaza.

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MY TURNER FIELD EXPERIENCE

Upon my arrival here, I wasnt really expecting my experience to be as great as some of the other newer retro-style ballparks.  Nope.  It was actually better than I expected.  Would I rank this yard as high ? Probably not.  But what this park may lack in charm, it more than makes up for in it’s game day presentation.  There are some cool pre-game activities that can be done here, and it’s a good thing to, because there really isnt much to do in the surrounding area.  As I stated earlier, if you’re a non-local and want to take in some history, the remnants of old Fulton County Stadium with the field markings outlined are still there.  And should the kid in you come out, you can even run the basepaths that Hammerin Hank circled many times here.  And if you’re a group of 3 and really want to act touristy in front of the locals, you may even want to re-create the moment when Hank hit 715 and the 2 guys running behind him. 

Turner also has a team Hall of Fame that you can check out.  And if you have kids, there’s also the Coke Skyfield which has a little play area where kids can run from home plate to first base.

And if you crave that traditional ballpark pastime, the hot dog, the Georgia Dog, made of a huge Hebrew National frank with vidalia onions and cole slaw, is a good tasty treat.  Then again, you cant really go wrong with Hebrew National.

As for the game experience, a couple of good-sized crowds were in attendance for my 2 game visit.  Braves fans have over the years been given a reputation of being too laid back and too spoiled by the teams success over the past 2 decades, thus resulting in the drop-off in attendance these past several years, including post-season play.  It is an unfair knock, of course.  Atlanta is a city with a lot of transplants, and from what I’ve gathered from the locals, the traffic is horrendous ( Boy, sounds like L.A. to me…..), and the teams drop-off at the gate would have to be a combination of all the factors mentioned. 

That doesnt mean that these fans arent into it.  When filled to capacity, there’s still something about hearing 40,000 plus fans doing the famous ( or infamous depending on you POV ) Tomahawk Chop one of those baseball experiences you have to see for yourself.  ( Yes, I am aware this is a spin-off from Florida State )  .  And if you happen to be here to see your favorite team play the hometown Braves, chances are, you’ll probably be amongst other fans of your team as well given the high population of transplants here.  However, the fans here , though not as loud as others, are very hospitable as is the custom in the south, but as I’ve stated, you’ll probably be talking to a non-local as well.

 

 

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