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Take Me Out to the Ball Game

By Michael Butler

I took my eight-year-old son Jack to his first Major League Baseball game last weekend. His Dixie Youth team had a rare Friday off, while his favorite player, Matt Carpernter and the St. Louis Cardinals were coming to Atlanta for a weekend series.

The stars aligned, so like Ferris Bueller says, 'You only go around once...,' so off we went. I brought the rest of the family, who preferred the attractions of Centennial Park in downtown Atlanata over baseball.

Jack and I headed to Turner Field. The concierge at our hotel advised us to take the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, also simply known as MARTA.

The last time I used MARTA was during the 1996 Olympics. It was crowded, stinky and sweaty then. This time it wasn't as sweaty.

We flashed our tickets that I printed right off the internet, then got frisked from head to toe. I'm not complaining. With the modern conveniences, there are the modern inconveniences. That's the world we live in now.

This is the final season for the Braves in Turner Field. They began playing in what was a state-of-the-art, fan-friendly park in 1997. I've seen several games there. My first major league experience; however, came at Fulton-County Stadium in the infamous Braves/Padres "Brawl Game." My dad and grandfather took me.

Does anybody remember Dale Murphy and Bob Horner? Is anybody familiar with current Braves players Adonis Garcia and Hector Olivera?

On Friday, the Braves jumped out to a 4-0 lead only to blow it and lose 7-4. There have been over 200,000 games played in the history of big league baseball. This game was the first ever with a team hitting three pinch-hit homeruns. The Cardinals did and it turned out to be the difference.

My inaugural MLB experience in 1984 was of players clearing the benches on multiple occasions with the Braves winning the game and the melees that ensued. Maybe Jack will remember that he saw something that's as rare as winning the Georgia Powerball, which just happens to be a Braves sponsor.

We hopped back on the Braves shuttle bus and made it back to the MARTA rail and the Five Points hub. There was one change still to be made, from the Red Line to the Blue Line.

I got this "deja vu all over again" moment when I heard the computerized voice say, 'East' not West as we boarded. We hopped off just before the doors closed.

I had that familiar feeling once in New York City on its subway system. My wife and I made that same call at Grand Central Station. We might have ended up in Connecticut.

Thank the Lord that the next MARTA was going in our direction. We got some relief from a local. Don't be afraid to ask for some advice.

We did walk a short distance down the street and were hit up for funds by a man who said he was hungry. We dropped some money in his cup.

He asked Jack, 'What do you want to be when you grow up?'

'A major league baseball player,' Jack responded.

Game Tickets: $92 + tax
Concessions: $21
Transportation: $20
Souvenir Mini-Bat: $8
Seeing the Smile on Your Son's Face: Priceless

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