I had not been on a Major League Baseball road trip in a couple of years.
And I’d missed it.
Last Friday, four of us went to Atlanta, Ga., for my first visit to the new home of the Braves, SunTrust Park. Last year was their inaugural season there.
I’ve been a Braves fan since the days of Dale Murphy.
I moved to the City of Fulton in 1986 and started watching the Atlanta games regularly on cable television. Growing up in rural Alabama in the 1960s and 1970s, we did good to get three or four channels via our antennae on the side of the house. The Saturday game on TV typically featured the Yankees.
I visited the old Atlanta Fulton County Stadium once. Then I made several trips to Turner Field, including the last game played there in 2016.
I have my favorite Braves of days gone by, including Murphy, plus Brian McCann (now with Houston), John Smoltz, Chipper Jones, Terry Pendleton, and manager Bobby Cox.
In moving to SunTrust, the Braves left the downtown area of Atlanta for the unincorporated area of Cumberland in Cobb County. It is 10 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta.
I had heard all good things about the SunTrust Park experience and I can only add to those experiences.
The ball park is fabulous.
Walking up, fawe enjoyed The Battery Atlanta – restaurants, entertainment and shops adjacent to the stadium. We particularly enjoyed the Braves’ drumline, The Heavy Hitters. They positioned themselves on the steps beside us and used buckets as their drums. A crowd quickly gathered.
Our seats were lower deck, along the right field line. And after it started raining some in the late innings, it was great being under the deck above.
We visited souvenir shops before and after the game.
And the hot dog I had during the game was one of the best at a ball park ever.
The game itself featured some great defensive plays. But after getting one run in the first inning, Atlanta’s bats pretty much went silent. Our favorite team lost 2-1 to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Braves, who are having a much better season than anyone expected, go to the all-star break trailing the Philadelphia Phillies by just a half a game in the standings.
The face of the franchise now is first baseman Freddie Freeman. But quickly becoming the fan favorite is second baseman Ozzie Albies. My son Andy had his new Albies jersey for this visit to SunTrust.
After using Lift to catch a ride to the ball park, we walked back to our hotel afterwards – just about a mile and a half.
The overall SunTrust experience was as good as I’ve ever had at any ball park.
That list, for me, is pretty long and hopefully will get longer.
I’ve been to Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisc., Wrigley Field in Chicago, Ill., Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo., Coors Field in Denver, Colo., and Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
And I’ve been to quite a few minor league ball parks, including Memphis, Tenn., Birmingham, Ala., Montgomery, Ala., Nashville, Tenn., Sevierville, Tenn., and Pearl.
In my mind, baseball will always be America’s favorite pastime.