My book, My Ballpark Summer: What Taking Myself Out to the Ballgame is available as an eBook and a paperback on Amazon, so please check it out or share it with friends… especially if they’re baseball fans!
I’ll coordinate excerpts of the book with trips I took last year to give you a little sample of what you’ll read should you purchase the book! This week last year I was on the most exciting baseball trip of my life- 5 different cities, 5 ballparks, 4 states! I visited Turner Field, Tropicana Field, Marlins Park, Camden Yards, and ended with a couple of games at Nationals Park. It was a fantastic adventure!
Here’s an excerpt from that chapter:
Being a contract employee at the station has its perks, I can usually take time off without question when I want and I make a little more than I would if I was on salary. There are a few downsides though, my time off is unpaid and my contract has to be renewed yearly. Well that time was coming up and I hadn’t heard anything about my renewal. I was starting to get a bit anxious and tried to find out what I could without ruffling any feathers, this was a job I couldn’t afford to lose. The host of my show was acting a bid odder than usual too and I could tell by his mood and demeanor that something was off. It was no secret he didn’t get along with most of our coworkers though of late he was getting some blame that didn’t seem well deserved. He had scheduled a week’s vacation, which would mean I was off as well. I was hoping this week would give us both a chance to step back, clear our heads, and come back refreshed and ready face our situation.
Making lemonade out of the lemons of my “forced” unpaid vacation, I scheduled what I later dubbed the granddaddy of all baseball trips. I had laid out a plan to visit five parks in five days, ending with another sister’s trip in the Baltimore area. With three flights in four days, I was going to have to look to divine intervention to make sure there weren’t any flight delays due to inclement weather.
My first stop was Atlanta. I was rather curious to see what this city was like. Though I had been a frequent visitor of their airport, I was anxious to experience some southern hospitality and Braves fans. When I landed in Atlanta I noted the time to estimate how long it would take to get from the terminal to the hotel so I’d know how early I’d need to leave the following morning to get back. I’m a very anxious traveler when it comes to flights ever since I almost missed that one to Chicago a few years ago. From the airport I got on the MARTA, Atlanta’s subway system, and then walked a couple blocks to my hotel. It was starting to get cloudy and I hoped it would pass through before the game later that evening. I was able to check in early and take a nap only to wake up to rain. Not to throw away the opportunity to tour a new city, I busted out my umbrella and took to the streets.
I am addicted to pop. Yes it’s pop, not soda or even coke! Because of my deep love for this tasty drink called Diet Coke, I was hell-bent on visiting the Coca-Cola museum. The tour guide was great. After the guide’s presentation I spent about an hour walking around the museum, trying all the different Coke flavors from around the world. There were some hits and some serious misses! After trying almost every flavor of Coke available I could feel the sugar and caffeine pumping through my veins. I knew I needed to get some food in me and walk off the buzz. The area around the museum is filled with family friendly activities, though there weren’t many people around since it was a rainy Monday. I walked through Olympic Park and by CNN and thought of Liz. The rain was starting to come down harder and I was getting nervous that the game would be delayed or even worse canceled. I picked up some food and headed back to my hotel to eat, dry off, and watch the news for a weather update. Good news for me, the storm was set to roll through quickly and the weather would clear up by the evening. Someone was watching out for me!
I walked to the Five Points MARTA station, which was overrun with Braves fans there to take the stadium shuttle to Turner Field. The ride to the park was short and we were dropped off at the parking lot next to the main entrance. Hands down, Turner Field has the best parking lot of any ballpark. The parking lot sits where the former home of the Braves, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium used to stand. There is a field painted on the pavement and a tribute to the spot that Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run in 1974. Instead of tearing down the part of the outfield wall where he hit the home run, they left it up to commemorate the special moment in the sport’s history when Aaron became the all-time home run leader. Even though Barry Bonds has since broken that record, it’s still there. I think that says a lot about Aaron’s achievement and how tainted Bond’s legacy is due to steroids. For me Aaron will always be the true leader. I love that they preserved this piece of baseball history for future generations of fans like me to appreciate. It was unexpected and I ended up standing in awe of the wall for a few minutes reflecting on the great accomplishment of someone who had persevered through much more than I could ever imagine. Though we tend to put athletes up on pedestals, when you really stop to think about them they’re human just like the rest of us. Hank was just like me, a guy with a dream, a goal, a passion, a purpose and he went for it. With hard work and dedication, he made it his reality. The chase and the fight we put in are equal to what we get in return. I knew deep in my heart that my time would come as long as I never gave up. Walking away from that wall, I felt more at peace with my future than I had in a long time. Baseball was once again helping to direct me toward my dreams.
As I walked to the ballpark, I passed some tailgaters before I reached the fence that welcomes you into Monument Grove. The Grove houses statues of former Braves legends, giant retired numbers and baseballs that line the plaza. Next to the Braves Museum and Hall of Fame, at the end of the ticket windows, is where you can buy $1 tickets for the standing room only Coca-Cola Sky Field area. Yes, you read right, I saw the New York Yankees play the Atlanta Braves for ONE DOLLAR. I had a hard time wrapping my head around that and must have asked the guy if he was sure that was the proper price at least five times. I’m fairly sure he thought I was dumb, but I felt as though I was robbing Ted Turner!
To continue reading, please click the link to purchase My Ballpark Summer. Thanks!
Here are a few of my favorite pictures from this trip: