September 16, 1997
Turner Field opened in 1997, replacing one of the several National League concrete doughnut stadiums of the 1970’s-80’s era. Unlike Veterans Stadium in Philly, Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh and old Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta never had a fake field. It was always grass. But like all the concrete doughnuts, lacked personality and good sight lines. You were always a long way from the field. Turner was built for the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics and converted to a baseball park in time for the 1997 season.
View from the restaurant in center field.
The Braves are the only team to win a World Series in three different cities: Boston Braves in 1914, Milwaukee Braves in 1957 and Atlanta Braves in 1995. Of course, they’re also the only team to lose the World Series in three different cities: Boston in 1948, Milwaukee in 1958, Atlanta in 1991, 1996 and 1999. The pennant replicas were on display in the concourse.
My Inaugural Season Turner Field t-shirt. It still fits me.
First game: September 16, 1997. I arranged a layover on the flight from Boston to New Orleans going to the NAB Convention. Sort of a long taxi ride from the airport to Turner Field as Hot-Lanna is not big on public transportation. Beautiful day, good game. Future Red Sox AL Batting Champion Bill Mueller played 3b for the Giants. Future Red Sox 2b Tony Graffanino played for the Braves. I saw his son, AJ Graffinino (as in Tony, Jr. just like the Sopranos), play for the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2017. Brewster won the CCBL Championship. Alan Embree, who pitched for the Red Sox from 2002-2005, appeared in 3 of the 4 games in the 2004 World Series. 4 K’s, no walks, 1 hit, one unearned run. ERA of 0.00, pitched for Atlanta in the game. Braves catcher Eddie Perez hit a grand slam off Wilson Alvarez, who once threw a no-hitter for the White Sox. Braves won, 6-4.
Second game: Tuesday, June 17, 2015. The Braves had announced that Turner Field, only 18 years old at the time, would be replaced with a new stadium “closer to the fan base.” Meaning the suburbs north of the city, where there is no public transportation. The Red Sox used to play the Braves in Interleague play every year, but they mix it up these days. So I took my daughters Caitlin and Kara to Atlanta to see what might be the last Red Sox series at Turner Field, as the new park was set open in 2017 and the Sox might not go there in 2016. Turned out I was wrong. But what the hey. Or is it hay?