Editorial: Braves win, Braves win, Braves win
Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 11, 2021
Braves win. Braves win. Braves win. Braves win.
Skip Carey made the call in 1992 when the Atlanta Braves won the National League pennant and headed for the World Series.
The winning run was scored by Sid Bream, undoubtedly the slowest runner on the team, as he slid into home on a hit to left field.
The old Atlanta Fulton County Stadium almost went down that night. Fans went crazy. The stadium actually shook. Some were scared. All were delirious.
I was there.
So was my dad.
We were back in that same stadium a week or so later when the World Series first came to Atlanta.
It was one of the proudest moments I’ve ever had as a son. I had made one of my dad’s lifelong dreams come true. He was at the World Series. It helped that the home team was also our team. We had watched just about every game on television (Those late night West Coast games were too much for dad). We had been to several in person.
It was a dream come true for us both.
It was more than special for the man who grew up in rural Davie County on a farm where the family pretty much raised or grew everything they ate.
Sure, they sold milk for some money. And cotton.
“Hump” Barnhardt came from a large family, and yes, they had chores. The chores — which kept the family alive — came before school, before play, before everything.
That was something saved for Saturday afternoon and Saturday afternoon only. If the cotton was not chopped in the morning, there would be no baseball in the afternoon. My dad on Saturdays happily worked in the cotton fields on Saturday mornings so he and his brothers could head to the nearby Fork ball field for a game of baseball.
They were pretty good at it, too. My dad was a catcher, hence the nickname “Hump.” They say he could really smash those high pitches, a trait I didn’t pick up, but my sister did.
And like every kid, he dreamed. He dreamed of playing baseball at the next level. He dreamed of playing pro baseball. He dreamed of playing in the World Series.
As a kid, I had those dreams, too.
Believe it or not, my dad played baseball into his 40s in Davie community leagues. He played hard and wanted to win every game, but winning wasn’t that important in the end. What was important was that you had fun, tried your best and you treated your teammates and opponents with respect.
When the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966, we became instant fans. Even before Atlanta Fulton County Stadium was built, we would drive by the old “Cracker” stadium on the way to visit relatives in Alabama.
And when TBS was the first to televise just about every game of the Braves, my dad was watching. He never complained about how sorry the Braves were back then. He never fussed because the umpires blew calls. He never second guessed a manager’s decision.
He simply enjoyed baseball.
Back to 1992. I bought what was soon discontinued 20-game season tickets that year. That allowed me the chance to buy the tickets to the World Series. The trip to Atlanta for that game was surreal. All the way down I-85, people and towns and businesses were showing their pride in the Braves.
When we reached Atlanta, our hotel was just across the street from the stadium. Excitement was in the air. The Goodyear blimp went by our hotel window.
I looked at my dad, and he was crying.
That was when he told me it had been his lifelong dream to be at a World Series game. He didn’t tell me that before I bought the tickets, that’s the kind of guy he was. He wouldn’t have said a word if I had decided to take someone else to the game. And it didn’t take me long to convince him not to pay attention to the guy waving a handful of hundred dollar bills in the air asking for one ticket.
Last week, after the Braves had clinched their second World Series title since moving to Atlanta, a friend came up to me and said I’ll bet your dad is smiling down at us.
Yes, he is. Yes, he is. Yes, he is. Yes, he is.
Mike Barnhardt is editor of the Davie County Enterprise Record.