Last night, Robert attended his 860th consecutive Atlanta Braves home game. He likes to arrive early, just before the gates open two and a half hours prior to the first pitch.
I catch up with him at the shaded spot where season ticket holders enter — if I’ve been able to get hold of someone’s season tickets for a game.
There Robert transforms himself into “the chief” — with no hint of political correctness. The young man carries his Braves duffel bag from his suburban home to downtown, and then walks several blocks from Underground Atlanta to Turner Field.
Outside the gate, he puts on his costume — and puts back on his running shoes and glasses.
“Chief” always knows the exact number of his consecutive games streak. He also knows baseball, which makes him a fun conversationalist as we await security to open the big iron gates and let us in to watch batting practice.
Attending every home game for a sports team for a decade is quite a feat. I kid him about watching out for buses when crossing the street in order to stay off the disabled list.
He said he had missed only one game in the 12 seasons of Braves baseball at The Ted or his streak would be longer. He did that purposefully to attend his grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration.
Apparently, his supervisor at the clothing store in Marietta is supportive of Robert’s commitment to the Braves. His work schedule is flexible enough to attend day games as well.
I always enjoy my pre-game conversations with Robert — though I consider it good to catch 20 games a season myself. I can’t imagine going to 860 in a row.
Is it passion, obsession or commitment? I don’t know. But most churches would welcome members with that kind of willingness to be present regardless of weather or other factors.
And one can bet that Chief Robert will be in the right-field stands just behind Jeff Francoeur again tonight — logging number 861 and cheering for a sweep of the Mets.
(I don’t have a photo of Robert. Taking my camera feels too much like work. Maybe later.)