Baseball and The Open Road, Part 4, Turner Field


Another early morning in a random hotel and then it was back on the road for another 6+ hours as Grant and I made our way North out of Florida into the heart of Georgia to visit Turner Field. Turner Field opened in 1997 and hosted the Cubs for a 5-4 Braves victory.  Having spent 9 years of my life in Illinois, I went into Turner field hoping that the Northsiders could bring a bit of luck with them to Atlanta and steal a victory while I was in town.

Happy Fourth of July, and thanks for taking a few moments to stop by the Pond to read about my adventures as I cross the country from Miami to Seattle.

Turner Field was completed following the 1996 Olympics, and at 15 years old the stadium still has that new ballpark feel. It is, without a doubt, my favorite of the three stadiums that I’ve visited so far on my #BaseballRoadtrip. The look, the feel, the atmosphere, hell in the rain delay turned out to be a good time. Parking was easy, there was a great selection of reasonably priced ballpark beer, food was available all over and there were a lot of things to do and see at the stadium.  Mr. Ted Turner, you’ve done good work in Atlanta, thank you.

We stopped for a late lunch just outside of Atlanta and had some pretty rocking burritos at a place called Gezzo’s Surf and Grill.  I’ve never met a burrito that I haven’t liked, and Gezzo’s proved to be no different.  I was a little disappointed with the sweet tea; maybe my expectations were high, but we were in the heart of the south, the land of sweet tea!

But back to the mission at hand, the baseball!  We arrived in Atlanta, or as it is also aptly called “Hotlanta,” about 330, about an hour before the gates opened.  We found parking for $10 in a parking lot direction across the street from the stadium, no joke, I could have literally thrown a rock from my truck and hit the stadium’s back wall.  The day was off to a good start and we hadn’t even left the car yet.

Grant and I enjoyed a last few moments of air conditioned air and walked across the street to the Turner Field plaza and checked out the monument garden and snapped a couple photos.  Calling three statues a monument garden is a bit of a stretch, but nevertheless, it was pretty neat.  I took my picture with Hammerin’ Hank.  As you can see, I am again sporting some Diamond Centric Twins gear, on the 3rd I went with my Duenslinger shirt, hopefully Duensing’s start today will be as successful as my trip to Turner Field last night.

The trip through the monument garden took all of 5 minutes, and we still had almost an hour to kill before the gates opened, and with no local bars/restaurants in the immediate vicinity of the park, Grant and I began to look for a place in the shade.  We found that we could walk into the lobby for the Braves Executive Offices and enjoy the AC without disturbing the business people.  This turned out to be a great way to pass the daylight hours away from the hot Atlanta sun.  Just a few minutes before the gates opened we headed over to the main gate and headed into Turner Field.

The beer selection at the Beer Hut right inside the stadium gates was fantastic, I counted no less than 15 different beer selections all priced at $7.50 ($7.00 for Coors Light).  I had a Hop-Lanta that tasted crispy and delicious.  A nice way to refresh myself and mentally escape the heat, which was practically unbearable.

I checked out some of open areas of the park, the family zone with kid friendly activities, and Scouts’ Row which includes batting cages and cages to throw with a radar gun and the Braves museum while my brother Grant went down to the front row of the outfield and tried to get himself a batting practice ball.  As luck would have it, while I was out and about, Grant managed to snag a BP ball that bounced off the wall.

Lots of cool stuff at Turner Field.  When the rest of the stadium opened up I took a stroll around the stadium, climbing up to the top of the upper deck to take a view from “the worst seats in the house,” and it didn’t seem too bad at all.  What do you think?

As I was making my way back over towards our seats in the OF to meet up with Grant the temperature dropped almost 20 degrees, clouds rolled in, thunder began to boom and fill the stadium and all of a sudden it was pouring rain in Atlanta. We scurried to the breezeway and escaped the rain.  It rained for almost 2 hours, but the rain did stop at at 8pm, only 50 minutes later than scheduled, the Braves and Cubs started playing baseball.

After the rain stopped, we wiped down our seats with some napkins and sat down to watch one of the All-Time great’s, Chipper Jones, proceed to have himself a 5 for 5 day, tied for a career best.  Chipper’s first 5-hit game since August of 2002.  The Braves would go on to beat the Cubs by a score of 10-3, Chipper would finish with 2 doubles and 4 RBI for the evening.  Wowsers!

I tried to explain how awesome it was that we got to see Chipper go 5-for-5, and that Grant was able to see him play before he retired.  I tried to explain how it would be something both he and I will appreciate for years down the road, and that it may even be something he could tell his kids about “I saw HOF’er Chipper Jones play way back in the day, he went 5-5 with 4 RBI. I tried, but I don’t think he really understood.  Regardless, what a great game in a great stadium.

As you may have expected, I did have a hot dog at Turner Field, and unlike almost everything else at the stadium, the hot dog was a bit of a disappointment.  It wasn’t bad, and it was certainly better than the hot dog at the Trop, but the Miami hot dog still remains the “top dog” for my baseball road trip.  Everything about my trip to Turner Field was a success, simple/cheap parking, great atmosphere, good fans, a fun stadium, I just can’t say enough good things about Turner Field. Awesome.  Oh, and I am really jealous of the Braves’ fans and the Tomahawk Chop.  I wish Twins Territory had something comparable.  While some may imagine you would get tired of a gimmick like the Tomahawk Chop, I don’t think any one in Braves Country gets tired of it.  In fact, I think they LOVE it.  Who remembers anything from the 1991 World Series?  One of the few things that stands out for me, aside from Kirby Puckett and Jack Morris, is the sea of fans all Tomahawk chopping in unison at the Atlanta games.  What an awesome way to get the “10th man” into the game.  Turner Field, the class of Atlanta.

Grant and I are off on the 4th to celebrate our nation’s birthday, and to put some serious miles between us and Atlanta as we head North to Pittsburgh and the beautiful PNC Park to see the Pirates take on the Houston Astros on the 5th.

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