Wow, that was a great game last night. The Braves made a strong statement to rival Washington, and the rest of the league, in their come from behind road victory. Scoring four runs in the last three innings to tie up a previously shutout game does not happen very often. Taking care of business in the first extra inning was just the icing on the cake of an amazing six run turnaround. I wish I could have watched it as it happened instead of just reading score updates. Better yet, I wish I could have been there to see it. Going to the ballpark to watch the game is always a better experience. That got me thinking about some of the memorable games I was lucky enough to experience in person.
It wasn’t the first game I went to, but the earliest one I remember was a game between the Red Sox and Orioles in 2001. The game wouldn’t have been anything special had it not been Cal Ripken Jr.’s last game at Fenway Park. I can still hear the cheers that filled the stadium that seemed to get louder each time he stepped into the batter’s box.
The first Braves game I went to was memorable only for that reason. They were in Boston for an Interleague series. Chipper and Andruw Jones both flied out to left to end the game with a score of 3-2. That was the only time I’ve walked out of Fenway mad about the Red Sox winning.
The only other Interleague game I’ve been to was between the Red Sox and Marlins in 2003. The Red Sox set a record of scoring 10 runs before getting a single out in the first inning, which still stands today. They got 4 more in the first inning of an easy victory that ended at a score of 25-8. This was the single most memorable game I got to experince in person. What made that record so much cooler for me is that the Marlins won the World Series that year.
The first National League game I went to was the Cubs against the Expos in their last year in Montreal. Olympic Stadium was overwhelming, and I’m very glad it’s still standing. I was jealous of the Expos fans at first because when I gave them my ticket at the gate they returned it with a jersey card of a current Expos player. I wondered why they didn’t do that at Fenway, but figured it out pretty quickly after I saw that the majority of the seats were empty. The game wasn’t a blowout but the Expos never had a chance. I was fortunate enough to go on the day Greg Maddux was pitching for the Cubs, and he was spot on. My family and I were put on the big screen in center field in between innings, which was one of the cooler things I’ve ever experienced at any professional sporting event.
The next game I went to was between the Mets and Nationals the following year. We were driving back from a family vacation in South Carolina on my birthday. My parents, being the good people that they are, didn’t want me to have to sit in the car all day on my birthday so we took a detour to watch the game. I got to see the Mets lose, which always brightens my day a little bit even if they’re not a threat. The Nationals scored 6 runs in the first inning of a 7-4 victory.
Somehow, I’ve been lucky enough to watch two games from the Green Monster. The first was the Red Sox against the Devil Rays. It was one heck of a pitcher’s matchup; Daisuke Matsuzaka in his rookie year vs. Scott Kazmir in his prime. The most memorable part of the game for me actually came before the game. My brother and I were sitting on the lowest level of the Moster before the game started. We both had our gloves on in the hopes of catching a home run ball in batting practice. Suddenly a Delmon Young shot came flying toward left field. I turned to the people next to me to see if they were looking, but they were deep in conversation. I stuck my glove in front of the woman’s face right before the ball gave her a nasty bruise. Catching that ball felt almost like hitting a ball right in the bat’s sweet spot. The man thanked me profusely for catching the ball because he said she would never had let him hear the end of that. He even offered me a beer to thank me, but I said I couldn’t have one because I was only 14.
The second time I watched a game on the Monster was against the Yankees. I can’t remember what year it was for the life of me, but I think it was either 2007 or 2008. I know Curt Schilling was on the mound for the Sox but I can’t remember who was pitching in pinstripes. The one thing I remember clear as day was a drunk fan running on the field in the middle of the 5th inning. He ran right up to Robinson Cano and stole his hat. After running around with Cano’s hat on for a few seconds park security tackled him into the Green Monster.
The first (and only) time I saw a Braves home game was in 2010. My high school graduation present was a weekend in Atlanta to see the Braves play the Marlins during the Fourth of July weekend. The original plan was to see a game on Friday, explore the city Saturday and watch the game Sunday on the Fourth. Halfway through the first game we decided to just find some cheap tickets for the next game and watch the entire series. As much as I would liked to have seen more of the city, I don’t regret going to all three games. The first game ended in the 11th inning because of an Omar Infante walk-off single, and was the first time I saw the Braves win in person. The second game, another Braves win, was not as memorable just becasue of the games that sandwiched it. Unfourtunately the Braves could not complete the sweep and lost a close game on the Fourth of July. Before the game my dad surprised me with passes to go on the field during batting practice. Being on the field and seeing it as the players see it was unforgettable. I even got an autograph from Infante and former Marlins star Hanley Ramirez. If the Red Sox vs Marlins game was the best single experience I had, this was the best overall baseball experience I’ve had.
The final game on this trip down memory lane was this past season. My dad, brother and I decided to take a road trip to New York to watch the Braves beat on the Mets and hopefully see Chipper play one last time. We didn’t know if he was going to be in the lineup or not until we got to the game. Luck was on my side, and I got to see my favorite player play one last time. He sat after they returned from a rain delay, but they had the game won at that point anyway. It was a good thing we chose that day to go because he was not in the lineup the next day, which was the final game of the series.
I applaud you if you stuck around until the end. I just realized how long this was, but I had a lot to say about these games. I’ve been to even more, but these were the most memorable. My mission now is to go to a “new-look Braves’ game, as well as seeing all the other teams I haven’t seen yet. What was the best game you’ve ever been to? Is there any team you’re dying to see?