Baseball Fans Bucket List, Spring Training, and Looking Back at Turner Field

Yesterday I wrote about having picked up a book titled The Baseball Fan's Bucket List. This book has a list of 162 things that we baseball fan's must see, do, get & experience. I'm sure most of you have already done a good number of the things listed in this book, such as Take a Baseball Road Trip ( Listed #1 ), Go to Opening Day ( Listed #3 ), and there's some things that some of us may never do, like Throw Out the First Pitch ( #139 on the list ) or Host a Minor League Ball Player ( #128 on the list) , and some that we, and even I hope to do some day, like Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum ( #2 on the list ) or See Some Cactus/Grapefruit League Spring Training Games ( #13 and #15 on the list ).

In all the years i've been going to baseball games, and in the last 10 years i've traveled to various ballparks, including Single and Triple AAA yards, I have yet to experience a Spring Training game. I have heard so many stories about the spring training experience ranging from players being more accessible to fans seeing a raw talent long before his rise to the top and so on. For those of you who have done the spring training circuit, what has your experience been like ? What Spring Training yards have you ventured to ? What unknown rookie did you get to develop into the bigs ?

OK, now, time for me to look back . Tonight's featured MLB yard from Dre, Turner Field, May 5-6 2007 . As I will be blogging about individual yards, a good number of my experiences will be looking back so chances are there may have been some changes to that particular yard since my visits. So, here goes....

I came to Turner Field for games 2 and 3 of the 3 game set between the Braves and my Dodgers. Upon arriving to the A-T-L on Saturday morning May 5th, I decide to take in some of the city, mostly venturing into the Auburn district to see the Dr. Martin Luther King's childhood neighborhood.

Ebeneezer Baptist Church

After paying my respects to Dr. King, I would arrive to the ballpark early to venture around and snap some pics, as per my routine at any ballpark i'm at for the first time. This would give me the chance to roam around the parking lot and check out the outlines of the field that was once the playing surface at Fulton County Stadium. Of course we all know that one of the more historical events that took place there happened on April 8, 1974 when Hank Aaron hit #715

Spot where #715 landed

Picturing the two guys trailing Hank during his celebrated home run

Speaking of, here's a link to an article abouth that historic evening and those two guys. Today, one of them is a doctor, and sadly, one has passed on....

Hank Aaron, #715, and the 2 Guys That Trailed Him

Shoud you want to view the remnants of the old playing field of Fulton County Stadium it's best to come early since the old field is now used as a parking lot. Kind of sad really. It would have been nice if let's say, a park had been built around the ol' yard and maybe put a replica field there for kids to play at. But hey, the Braves still did a good job of paying respects towards the past. Although, I can here some dad conversing with his son...." See that tire mark son ? That's where Hank Aaron made plenty of history.... "


Most fans enter Turner Field through it's plaza area beyond the outfield.  There, you will see some statues and retired numbers on display. 


Now you all knew there was going to be a statue of Hammerin' Hank.  Many Braves fans, heck, many baseball fans including this one felt the stadium should have been named after him.



The number worn by former Braves slugger Dale Murphy


Behind the left field stands was the Ivan Allen Braves Museum.  Here's a display of the 14 consecutive division titles the Braves won from '91-'05.


Another area that I checked out before the game was the skyfield area in the upper left field corner.  This is a great place to take your kids or for you kids at heart to venture before the game.  And for those of you with kids, there's a patch of grass there where kids can run 90 feet from home to first...

I wouldn't want to get in the way of this kid.  HE'S GOT A TOMAHAWK !!!!


Oh yeah, should you happen to be out there in the Coca-Cola Skyfield....




Now of course, I did mention that my trip here to the A-T-L was in 2007.  And one of my favorite features in the yard was the Coke bottle that consisted of all these neat baseball items.  Since then....

Meh.  As for the Chick-Fil-A cow that leads the crowd on the " Chop ", well, this is a baseball blog so i'll leave refrain from any political posts here....LOL

Oooooh.  The bottle's got some snazzy graphics that rally's the fans behind the chop....  I haven't been to Turner Field since my trip in '07 but I actually like the old baseball stuff on the bottle better.  For you Braves fans that may be reading this, you thoughts ?

As I mentioned earlier I was here for 2 games to see my Dodgers take on the Braves.  While many parks built since Camden claim to be retro really is up for debate.  Yeah, there have been many technological advances throughout the years and yeah it seems that teams are trying to outdo each other with all these bells and whistles off the field ( Doesn't it seem like each year some team comes out with the world's largest jumbotron ? ), but calling your yard retro, as I said earlier, really is up for debate.  I never really could put Turner Field in the retro category, but with everyone trying to out-retro each other, this really is not  a bad thing.  Of the yards built since Camden, with everyone trying to create all these nooks and cranny's on the field in terms of it's assymetrical surfaces, Turner comes closest to creating a symmetrical field, sans the non curving layout in right field. 

There's was nothing really awe-inspiring about Turner Field or the surrounding area, which probably explains all the pre-game entertainment options in the outfield plaza.  As for the games....I'm sure you've all heard stories about the Braves attendance issues particularly in post-season games however the Saturday night game , the first of the two I went, was pretty amped.  I wouldn't say ear-shattering amped, but they came close to packing the yard the evening.  Oh yeah, as for the Tomahawk Chop, it's one thing to hear it on TV, but to witness over 40,000 fans par-taking in this rally cry is something you have to be there to experience.   As for me participating, I just couldn't do it.  No, it had nothing to do with being politically sensitive !!!  I was there to see cheer on my Dodgers.  I can't be chopping if the Blue is in town....

The Dodgers would split the 2 games with the Braves during my visit.  As for the fans, the passion was there that weekend.  To say that Braves fans can be apathetic may be a bit to harsh.  After visiting Atlanta and Turner Field that weekend I came away with a better understanding why Braves fans don't rush out toward Turner Field.  Plenty of transplants, stadium not exactly in the most central part of town, access to stadium is not the best especially if you plan on using public transit, the fans being too spoiled by the Braves successive run of 14 division titles.  I've also been told by locals that the summer's there can get really brutal and because of that many of the fans would rather stay home.  In all, it's probably a combination of all those factors mentioned.

Still, the Braves do a good job of running things at the Ted and it's worth a trip to see a game there.  Should you want to see your team battle the Braves, you won't have to worry much about being treated harshly.  ( Although the case may be different if you're cheering for the division rivals Mets or Phillies ) .  You'll all be glad to know that nothing was hurled or thrown at me.  Not even a tomahawk....

Me with my souvenier Tomahawk.  As for my Dodger blanket, it's been to 6 other venues besides Dodger Stadium.  It is my goal to not only follow my Dodgers to all 30 someday, in addition to seeing all 30, but to bring my fleece as well.  ( Yeah, I know I will be doing this at my own risk in certain yards...LOL  )


More pics from Turner Field and the A-T-L....

Turner Field and the A-T-L, May 5-6, 2007












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Comment by Dre Diaz on May 8, 2013 at 11:08pm

Hey Ernie. Thanks for reading my post. That's cool that you had a great time in Philly and they we're friendly with you. I would imagine that baseball fans are of a different breed from football fans so I'm not really surprised that there would be a difference between a Phillies game and seing the Eagles. I went to PNC Park back in '05 . Saw the DBacks and Bucs there . Really nice yard, small and intimate. If you get a chance you should walk across the Roberto Clemente Bridge ( The yellow bridge one always see's in the backdrop of PNC Park ) before a game. It's closed off to vehicles during game day so in all essence it's a game day pedestrian bridge. It really adds to the PNC Park game day experience !!!

Comment by Ernie on May 7, 2013 at 8:19pm

In regards to your blanket in Philly, I went last year to Philly for a 4 game series, I went by myself in Full Dodger Blue .. and I must say, I HAD NO PROBLEMS.. the fans were very cool especially once you chat with them and let them you're from So. Cal, they were very friendly... I will say though, they say the Eagles crowd is NOT as kind.. I'll be in Pitt and N.Y this June along my trip, and will def be in full blue!!

Comment by Dre Diaz on April 5, 2013 at 4:48pm

Hey Bart !!! Thanks for reading. It looks like you really had a great time experienceing Spring Training in Arizona. One of these day's I will take a whole week off to check out some ST games in Arizona. 8 days, that's pretty impressive !!!!

Comment by Bart Wilhelm (311 total/41 MLB) on March 19, 2013 at 10:03am

We just got back from 8 days in Arizona. We visited 6 parks and all 6 games of the WBC. Spring training is so cool because it's laid back. Normal "rules" don't seem to apply. We went to HoHoKam Park to see the Cubs work out at 7am. The gates were open but no fans were there yet. We walked in and it turns out it was the first day of prospect camp. 150 kids just starting out their dream. My buddy actually walked into the Cubs dugout and put on an actual batting helmet for a picture. Such a blast. Another day, we were heading over to see the White Sox play but we had an hour to kill so we stopped by the A's camp. Just walked in and watched batting practice for an hour. Even got a foul ball :)

Comment by Jon (4/6) on March 7, 2013 at 8:17am

My parents lived in Atlanta when I was real little. I have vague memories of going to old Turner Field via the MARTA as a kid. I remember more going back on family vacations later. I remember being at the Old Turner Field for a game while they were building the new stadium for the Olympics and getting a picture of it under construction. And then I remember going to a game in the new stadium and seeing it the other way, looking across at what remained of the old stadium.

Comment by Jarom Lewis (13) on March 6, 2013 at 10:23pm
I lived near Turner Field for short time in 1996..... Good times. Thanks for the heads up on the book, I will be looking for it. Enjoyed your post!
Comment by Dre Diaz on February 28, 2013 at 10:15pm

Hey Tim. Believe it or not there weren't as many cops around Dodger Stadium as there was in '11, though against the Giants officer and security presence is always beefed up. With all the money spent going back to last year the margin for error is certainly going to be minimal for the Dodgers this season. As for Josh Beckett you probably know by know about his charity giving less than the minimum.

Comment by Tim Choiniere on February 27, 2013 at 11:20am

I have to say that I have never seen so many cops at a stadium until I went to a Giants @ Dodgers game last year in May. Obviously I know why but atmosphere was definitely fun. I had a Red Sox hat on so was getting a lot of funny looks...It was Magic's 1st home game as official owner. Really enjoyed the stadium and the atmosphere.

I have no problems with the Dodgers especially after they took the $200 million in salaries from the Red Sox. Hope Gonzo does well. But Crawford was a liability and never worked. As for Beckett, I lost a lot of respect for him with his incessant whining and he had to go.

Comment by Dre Diaz on February 26, 2013 at 10:54pm

Hey Cam. Thanks for your concern about my well-being in SF. To answer your question....

Being a Dodger fan in SF really isnt that bad. We have a lot of Dodger fans up there and we represent well in NoCal, even if the hated one's have won 2 of the last 3 World Series titles. You may want to read an old post of mine, FAVORITE STADIUM TO CHEER YOUR TEAM.....AS A VISITING FAN . I think you'll enjoy it since you too can also speak from experience. As i've stated earlier it is my hope follow the Dodgers to all 30 and to take my Dodger blanket to all 30 stadiums. And yeah, i'm aware I may be doing this at my own risk in certain venues. If given the chance I would definately like to try this in, say, Philadelphia....

Comment by Cam Cain (29) on February 24, 2013 at 7:32pm

Wow! I hope you make it out of San Fran alive with your blanket! I barely even made it out of Cleveland with my Reds gear


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