You could call it a fan’s version of a grand slam — or perhaps a round- tripper. By whatever name, my friend Marshall Kerlin of Americus, Ga., and I took in baseball games at all four professional levels last weekend.
When my wife and daughters announced they would be going out of town for a family wedding over Memorial Day weekend, I began the search for reasonably close baseball games. The planets and schedules aligned miraculously.
We began last Saturday night (which means the timespan fits any normal weekend) in Atlanta where Marshall and I have watched hundreds of games together over three decades. Then we backtracked to Macon, Ga., so I could carry out Sunday morning pinch-hitting duties at Vineville Baptist Church.
After the last “Amen” at the second service, we headed for Chattanooga. The Lookouts — now the L.A. Dodgers AA team — had scheduled an unusual Sunday evening game with fireworks to follow.
A perfect night for baseball. We sat in the general admission seats down the right field line for a good view of the field, Signal Mountain and the Tennessee River.
The next morning we jumped on U.S. Hwy. 27 (which runs behind the home run fence of AT&T Field — now known as “Dodgertown, Tenn.”) and drove south to Rome, Ga. Both Marshall and I had attended college in that town; he at a Baptist school called Shorter and I on the expansive and unequally beautiful Berry campus.
The Braves’ single-A team (previously in Macon) is there now. Nice field and good food. Much cheaper than the ‘dogs in Atlanta.
Our last stop was northeast of Atlanta where the former Richmond AAA team is now the Gwinnett Braves. It was an enjoyable experience as well.
Having lost the Macon Braves, however, I have empathy for the fans in Richmond who supported the AAA team for so long.
Marshall and I also enjoyed the additional benefits of well-done Memorial Day observances at each of the four ballparks last weekend. Moments of silence for those who died in defense of nation and other tributes were appropriate and moving.
However, someone needs to tell all singers that the purpose of the National Anthem is “to honor America,” not to stretch it into five minutes of painful modulations.
Despite constant threats of rain, we pulled off our amazing baseball weekend perfectly. It is one we will talk about for years to come.
On the rare occasion a player gets a single, double, triple and homer in the same game,it is called hitting for the cycle. For us, then, it was a weekend of sitting for the cycle.
Has it been done before — attending A, AA, AAA and MLB games in one weekend? Perhaps. Doing so and not missing church? Very doubtful.
My assessment of the weekend: Too much baseball food — but there is no such thing as too much baseball.
[Photo 1: Marshall Kerlin and “the Chief” at Turner Field where the one in the headdress — if he makes it to the end of this season — will have attended 1,000 consecutive Braves home games. “Chief” (real name is Robert) is also catching the Braves at Fenway Park this summer while in Boston to play tennis in the Special Olympics. Photo 2: Marshall and other fans gather on the outfield of AT&T Field in Chattanooga to watch a post-game fireworks show.]