Next week begins another season of Atlanta Braves baseball, and my ninth as the In Game Host (the big head between innings that gives away free stuff).
I love this gig, and have had some amazing moments on and off the field. So as we prepare for another year in Braves Country, here are some of my personal favorite moments working for America’s Team:
In-field fly rule – I’ll never forget getting boo’ed by over 50,000 Fans. It was Oct. 5, 2012. Eighth inning. Cards vs Braves for the Wild Card. It was a simple pop fly that was out of reach for the St. Louis short stop, but umps called the in-field fly rule.
The dropped ball would have loaded the bases for the Braves. (We were losing 6-3). Instead, we were left with two outs and eventually lost the game. After the bad call, angry Braves fans showered the field with trash in one of the most amazing/shocking moments in Braves history!
Our director called on me to “calm the fans down.” So, here I am, the guy that calls the Tool Race begging a drunk, angry Turner Field to stop trashing the field. I failed miserably; but tried by saying: “Braves fans, this is why you are the best in baseball (Yeaahhhh!) But you gotta stop throwing stuff on the field (Booooo!)” That moment still makes me laugh – and cringe.
Celebrating on the field for the 2010 Wild Card Win – Not often do you get champagne sprayed in your eyes by a Braves player, but it happened and it burns like hell. I’m glad I didn’t get pulled over on the way home; I reeked of beer and champagne. Eventually, the Braves were eliminated in four games by the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS, but we still got a banner, right?
Helping Javy Lopez with his charity – I get to meet a lot of players, but don’t really call any of them friends. They have a job, I have a job. Plus – why would a 24-year-old millionaire want to hang out with a 35-year-old with a bad back?
However, I have become friends with former catcher Javy Lopez and have been asked to host some events for his charity. Getting a call from Javy – broken English and all – asking to be part of his event was an honor. Plus, I bid on and won a beach trip that we used for my honeymoon. (And yes, he really is that cool and laid back).
Bobby Cox number retirement – Aug 12, 2011. In front of one of the biggest crowds in Turner Field history, the Braves officially retired the number of the Braves’ former manager, Bobby Cox. The respect and love from Braves Country was amazing. Plus, I unknowingly was on TV as they revealed his sign; (but I was smiling and clapping, not picking my nose).
It happens every day, but I love meeting families and giving kids Braves gear – I meet dozens of fans every day, but talking with a family bringing a kid to their first game or watching a kid experience his first Turner Field evening is great. I think this is because I’m a dad now, and I remember my days with my pops at Fulton County Stadium in the 1980’s; but something about a summer night in Atlanta at the ball park with the family is just fun.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see ya at the Ted!
Follow me @Marko6262