Overall Grade: A
Aesthetic Grade: B-
Turner Field really isn’t anything special when it comes to looks. That and it has tons of ads when you look towards the outfield. For me, ads, unless they blend classically with the stadium, are a negative. On the positive side, because it is built in the style it is, it has some oldish charm to the stadium. The scoreboard is beautiful and prominent. The reason I had it on the positive side of a C is it really doesn’t have anything that detracts from the game experience, but it has certain qualities that enhances the visual aspect of it.
Two words: Tomahawk. Chop:
You may have heard of it and know of the rhythm of it. Heck, you may have even heard it on TV during a Braves. However, there is truly nothing like being there when they get going at Turner Field. I mean really getting into it. I was there when there really wasn’t much of a crowd, but even with my experience in those three days, I feel the moral obligation to do the chop along with the Braves fans whenever I see a game of theirs on TV. Besides this, you may or may not know this, but the Braves have the largest geographical fan base of any team in the major leagues:
Okay, I know it looks like the Rangers do in the map, but I think they’re being very generous to the Rangers and the two Florida teams. I think the three teams surrounding the Rangers have a bit more of that territory, and the two Florida teams are still very young. While they may hold the majority of fans in the regions highlighted, everyone over the age of 45 in the region is more likely to be a Braves fan than anything else. Both the Marlins and the Rays have been around for less than 20 years. Anyway, the ultimate point I’m trying to get at is that there are a lot of people who travel to Braves fans. Therefore, the crowd is more likely to be passionate. Who do you think will be cheering louder: the fan just getting to the game as a way of relaxing after work or the person who is taking vacation days just to visit their favorite team’s stadium. I hadn’t even considered the geographical factor until I got to Turner Field and talked to people about where they were from. More so than any other stadium I have visited thus far, there were a ton of people from out of town.
Fan Experience: A
First of all, I consider “Atmosphere” a contributing factor. Secondly, I couldn’t tell that well about the stadium as a whole, which is why I held off on giving this an A+, but the sample of people I encountered in my three days there were definitely nice in the aggregate. It really did feel like a southern hospitality stereotype was coming to fruition. But more than that, it was so refreshing coming from the New York City environment. For example, in New York you can for the most part tell it is the vendor’s job. In Atlanta, the beer vendors have fun with it. There are vendors that use humor in their selling in New York, but their default emotion while saying the jokes is one of emotionlessness; whereas some Atlanta vendors had the demeanor of a stand-up comedian while in the stands.
Turner Field also has a couple other things going for it in the “fan experience” sub-category. First, maybe I’m just blowing this out of proportion because of my familiarity with the Yankees and Mets, but I liked that it didn’t seem like even though they had this vast fan base that they were “too good” to cater to the paying fan. Also, even though I never entered it. Turner Field looks like possibly the best play area of the stadiums I have been to:
Well except for the Nick-loving kids. For the record, the reason it is a Cartoon Network themed play area, it is because the team was owned by Turner Broadcasting Systems, which is a part of Time Warner Cable, owner of Cartoon Network.
Another great thing about Turner Field’s fan experience is they have a pretty neat museum. It isn’t free on it’s own like most museums, but if you go on a tour of Turner Field (before batting practice), a ticket to the museum is included that you can use all day. If you want to check out these along with other pictures I took on the 4th of July game, here is the link to the gallery on Facebook.
This is where you see what a team is made of. In the details of the stadium.The lazy, unimaginative teams fail here and the better ones thrive. As you can see, the Braves are in the later category. If you didn’t know, my trip last year was at the beginning of July (4th of July 2011 was my first game there). Atlanta in July is not exactly the arctic tundra. Therefore the touch the Braves had with installing fans in the center field concourse/plaza that sprayed water was absolutely magnificent.
Even better, an oft overlooked feature: the seats. The Braves –although not spectacular– have (sadly) one of the better seat designs in the major leagues:
Ballhawking During Batting Practice: A+
This is what we in the old country call Glove Trick Heaven. (Side Note: If you try to get a ball via Glove Trick or other retrieval devices in left field, you have to be quick on the draw, because there are probably a couple other people with a device on hand. I would factor this into the equation, but I’m only evaluating the stadium itself.)
Wow. Yet another heavenly sight. This is debatably the best outfield section in the major leagues for snagging baseballs in the major leagues. The seating goes all the way from the foul pole to the batter’s eye. And while there may be another place in the major leagues where this is the case (I can’t think of any), this is the only one where all of the individual section go across in a more or less straight line. The simplicity of it makes it absolutely gorgeous in terms of ballhawking, and the sheer amount of space in the outfield makes it amazing for snagging hit baseballs during batting practice
While center field sections usually aren’t the way to go, this is a pretty viable back-up plan. It may seem like light years away from home plate, but even though the home bullpen acts as a partition between it and the right field seats, the rightmost section in the center field seats is really right-center field when you think about it. It’s just the mentality that makes people think it is further than it actually is, but it doesn’t take a shot to reach that section, which can be a nice place to camp out if the left and right field sections of the outfield are crowded.
This is what it is: a right field section for when lefties are up. I’m not particularly in love with it, though. First of all, the home bullpen takes out a prime section and makes it so players have to pull the ball a bit more than usual to get it into these seats. Then there’s the fact that the seats don’t open until an hour after the gates do, so maybe there’s a negative association there. But finally, the gap in right field is so much smaller than the one in left and center:
It is a maximum of three feet (probably one or two, so really the only balls that go down there are dropped baseballs by fans in the first row.
Ballhawking During the Game: A
While the outfield is a great place to be during the game if it’s not crowded, it’s not very crowd-proof if there are a bunch of people during the game, since Atlanta is 22nd in home runs in 2012. That means if you get moved back like tens rows due to fans, there is a slimer chance for a game home run. However, the place to probably be for the game is the cross-aisle behind home plate (highlighted by the green line I have included:
I personally didn’t stand back there, but it was because I had pretty much an entire section to myself:
For the record, I did catch a foul ball, which to this day remains the only foul ball I have ever technically “caught on the fly” off of the bat of Nate McLouth. If you want to check out the gallery from that July 5th game, I’ve linked this entire sentence to the page. Heck, I might as well give you the July 6th gallery while I’m at it. Here’s that link. I was also with my mom for this whole roadtrip, who wanted me to sit with her, but otherwise I might have gone to the cross-aisle once this section filled up a little.
Special thanks goes out to Todd Cook for allowing me to use many of his panoramic pictures in the entry from his plethora thereof. If you want to check out his gallery of 10,000,000 pictures and more, check out his museum by clicking on the words you just read.
Anyway, that’s that. Keep voting for the entries you would like to see:
If you have already voted and have a different perspective, I have taken the repeat voter restrictions off and they will remain off for 24 hours after the publication if you want to vote again. However, I do please ask you to only vote one additional time.
And although Ballhawk Interviews is the next most voted subject, I still have to ask you guys who you want to see interviewed, so in the meantime, I will do an entry on whatever the second most voted on item is in the poll (hint, hint, for those people voting a second time). Meanwhile, here is a poll to let me know which ballhawk you would want to see me interview:
Disclaimer: As of now, none of the ballhawks have agreed to be interviewed (since I just sent the e-mail five minutes ago), so the person who is interviewed is the highest voted-for person who agrees to be interviewed; not necessarily the most voted-for person period.
Finally, since Ballhawking Gear is one of the entry types that is in second place, keep voting on how you would like to see it:
Oh Fourth of July. The proud day where Americana reigns supreme and the gates open… THREE HOURS EARLY?! Thank goodness my mom had taken a tour at 3:00 because had she not gone I would have showed up a little late for the gates as she warned me via phone of this scheduling change. As I arrived I saw this:
Nothing horrible but then I got the priviledge of sitting for half an hour doing nothing:
My first “ball” of the day was sort of a weird situation as Bullpen coach Eddie Perez threw a ball to a person. That person rejoiced because he thought he had gotten a ball. Eddie then flapped his glove like he wanted it to be thrown back. The man threw it back and Eddie continued this process with several other people. Eventually, I convinced Eddie to throw me the ball but then had to throw it back. I have had this situation happen to me before where I have caught a ball and the player asked for it back but the number of people that actually touched this ball makes me wonder if I should count it. For the moment, I am counting it but let me use the handy dandy poll daddy widget to find out the readers’ reaction/opinion
When the Braves pitchers began to warm-up along the 1st base foul line. You can expect I made my way over there (I was in left field). My mother however, thought I was coming back to left field right after the pitchers ended their warm-up. So before I go into detail on a miny snagging rampage here is a picture of a group of pitchers in left-center field (if you’re a little lost my mom had the camera so I don’t have any pictures of said rampage):
Now to the rampage. Although I didn’t get any balls from the pitchers warming up, a ball got hit to the wall in the right field corner where George Sherrill picked it up. Since I was in foul ground I was the closest to him because of a tunnel leading back into the depths of stadium where there were obviously no seats. So I called out and he promptly tossed me the ball. I then moved into the actual right field seats and caught a Home Run from a lefty I didn’t recognize at the time, but later identified as Freddie Freeman. This due to the fact that it was the exact same swing as Home Run he hit during the actual game (to be seen later). I stayed put in left field because a) there were a lot of lefties up and b) this was the crowd in left field at almost that exact same time:
You can see in the background how much less crowded the right field seats were. Anyway, a ball got hit into the Braves bullpen in right center field and no one went after it but me. Scott Proctor was in the bullpen and as he picked up the ball I got him to throw it to me . While I was coming back down the steps, a ball got hit and a kid around seven years old managed to stop it but it dropped into the gap between the walls and so I swooped in with my glove trick and after a bunch of tangling brought it up and handed it to him.
While in right, I noticed a fair amount of balls going into the center field bleachers (or Pavillion as the Braves so graciously renamed it). Like just as many as in left and right. Since it was 400+ feet from home plate to glove so there weren’t that many people there but in all actuality the rightmost section (looking from home plate) is really right center and isn’t that out of the question when it comes to Home Runs. Anyway, five minutes after I got there, Brian McCann hit a Home Run to that rightmost section I ran and set up right behind the (barehanded) person camped under it but he deflected it forward and a third person out-scrambled him for it. This turned out to blessing in disguise as a the next pitch McCann launched a ball back to my right and all I had to do was run ten steps and catch it. For those keeping score at home that is now six balls on the day, five sans Perez ball.
I met back with my mom in Left Field and stayed there for the remainder of Braves bp because I wanted to wait until the Rockies pitchers finished throwing:
I got nothing from them and returned to right field, this time with a photographer. The closest I came to a ball in left field because of the crowd was a ball that landed in the gap. I had my glove trick and got to the point quickest but gave way to a person with a cup trick type thing a few moments afterward. I add on the “type thing” because it was a cup trick but I am used to something other than a roll of duct tape being used as a weight:
Anyway, Rockies batting practice was pretty slow. Not necessarily in terms of balls hit into the stands but it seemed like there were never balls hit close enough to the stands to shout to the players for toss-ups. It was also pretty crowded in right field on the aisles so of course let me give you a picture of the middle of the row:
Towards the middle of Rockies batting practice, a lefty hit a Home Run to my right. I was two sections so I came a little late to the party but managed to win the scramble when the barehanded person inevitably dropped the ball and I scooped it up. I then proceeded to give the ball to a kid also chasing it. I probably should have given it to a kid with a glove but it was more of a reactionary move to endear myself to the section as they had seen me snag a few balls. I just kept trying the players from close up using words and from far away using gestures:
but it was hopeless as I forgot my attention grabbing Rockies shirt in a rush to get to the stadium and just had my hat add that to the fact it was the Fourth of July and the stadium was packed, even in bp. So batting practice ended:
and I was happy as I had set my season high and tied my career high for balls in a game. I didn’t try to go for third out balls and set a new career high just yet. If it were to come, it would be a Home Run or a bullpen ball that sent me to #8 as this was the view from my seat:
Guess what. A Home Run did come within twenty feet of me and guess who caught it. Not me. This was my view right after the catch as I had to watch helplessly because of the crowd:
I mean he caught it on the fly so there was nothing I could really do about it but still I go in my mind to thinking how that would have played out on a day that was not the fourth of July. That of course, the Freddie Freeman Home Run that I referenced earlier that helped me identify him as the one that hit the ball that I caught.
There were mostly lefties hitting so I just watched the spectacle that was a family trying to land more peanut shells on the first wall than each other:
In the eighth inning it started to rain and the section really emptied out but it was too late:
as there were only six hitters after that point.
Still the Braves commemorated my six/seven ball performance with some nice fireworks:
Can you spot my hotel? I am staying at the Holiday Inn. I stayed for the entire fireworks ceremony and ended up drenched:
The funny part about that picture is the camera didn’t move that much it was the water on the lens that made it look so blurry.
Oh and remember how I said my glove trick got tangled on the first ball. Here is a picture of it after I got home:
Just keep that in mind when I write my next entry today/tomorrow.
- Seven balls at this game ( four pictured because I kept that many)
- 50 balls in 16 games= 3.13 balls per game
- 41 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 11 straight outside of New York
- 7 balls*36,137 fans= 252,959 competition factor
- Time at game 3:38- 11:27=7 hours 49 minutes A record I do not think I will break any time soon.