As we say another way-too-early good-bye this weekend to an Atlanta sports stadium, I think back to the many, many days I spent at “The Ted” as both a fan and a member of the media.
True, the greatest moment in Atlanta Braves history happened two years before Turner Field opened, when the team won the 1995 World Series at Fulton County Stadium. However, the Olympic venue-turned-baseball stadium had its share of great moments through the years: some in favor of the home team, some not.
What you wont see here are the number retirement ceremonies of Chipper Jones, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, though each are important and memorable. Had this been a “Top 10” then they certainly would have made the cut.
If you ever saw a game at Turner Field, then you have fond memories as well, or possible moments of heartbreak. So enjoy with us the “Top 5.”
5.) August 12, 2011: Bobby Cox Retirement Ceremony
The Braves great manager had his number “6” retired and was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame. Cox won 2,149 games in his managerial career, five pennants and a World Series title. On hand to honor Cox were, among others, Don Sutton, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones and John Schuerholz.
4.) July 11, 2000: Major League Baseball All Star Game
The midsummer classic at Turner Field had some great moments. Sammy Sosa won the Home Run Derby the night before and Derek Jeter won the MVP award with a 3-for-3 night in a 6-3 American League win. But the highlight, for Braves fans, was the third inning solo homer in the bottom of the third by Chipper Jones that tied the game at 1-1.
3.) October 19, 1999: Game 6, NLCS
The Braves and the Mets played for the right to go to the World Series in 1999. Early on it looked as if the Braves would roll in uncontested. They took a three games to none lead after winning games 1 and 2 at Turner Field and then game 3 at Shea Stadium. The Mets survived in Game 4 with a 3-2 win which forced the series back to Atlanta. Then Robin Ventura hit his “grand slam single” in the bottom of the 15th in Game 5. However, for all the excitement in New York during game five, nothing compared to the excitement of game six when Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th, forcing in Gerald Williams with the walk-off 10-9 win.
2.) October 5, 2012: National League Wild Card game
There are so many memories about this game, and most of them bad. It was the first ever Wild Card “play-in game” in the National League and featured the Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals. In the bottom of the eighth, Andrelton Simmons appeared to drop in a single in shallow left, but left field umpire Sam Holbrook called Simmons out on the infield fly rule. The fan reaction was shameful as they threw trash on the field which held up the game for 19 minutes. The Braves played the game under protest, but the call was upheld and the Cardinals held on for a 6-3 win, eliminating the Braves.
1.) May 18, 2004; Randy Johnson’s Perfect Game
It’s difficult not to list a perfect game as a “Number 1” event. Johnson’s gem was the first in Major League Baseball since David Cone’s feat in 1998. About seven innings in, it was hard for even Braves fans to cheer against Arizona’s Johnson. He struck out 13 batters, including Chipper three times, to become the oldest pitcher (age 40) to throw a perfect game. His efforts turned an otherwise obscure Tuesday night in May into one of the most memorable ever in Atlanta sports history.