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January 9, 2014

Column: Tom Glavine plays a part in special memory

TIFTON — Like most lifelong Atlanta Braves fans I was excited and happy to see the news about Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux being elected to the baseball Hall of Fame yesterday.

It was great watching them work from the pitcher’s mound and it was well deserved by both men. It also made me think of a great memory I have.

The year was 1988 and my daddy and I went to Atlanta to see the Braves play the Montreal Expos. The biggest thing I remember about that day was that I was spending time with my pop. I have always been able to remember the Braves’ starting pitcher that day was the aforementioned Glavine.

It seems like the game was in July and it was a fairly big crowd for a Braves game. After doing some research I think I found the exact date: July 10, 1988.

The Braves lost that day – one of 106 losses on the year by the way – but Glavine was pitching against the Expos and the crowd was numbered at 23,333. Another reason I believe it was this particular day is that it was played on a Sunday, and we only attended games on the weekends.

That’s just the thing — when we went — because it was the last time I went to an Atlanta Braves game with my pop. I lost him a little more than a year later.

But we both thought the Braves had something in Glavine, and looking back on his stats that day I now remember why.

Glavine went 7 innings, struck out 5, walked no one and gave up only 1 earned run (lowering his ERA to 5.40 believe it or not). The “legendary” Paul Assenmacher gave up a run, and then Bruce Sutter, who was really good before he became a Brave, gave up 2 runs in the ninth to take the loss.

I never thought it would be the end of an era for me. My dad lost his arms when I was 6, but he eventually would figure out a way to take me to Braves’ games...on Greyhound buses, believe it or not.

That would be fool-hardy now, unfortunately, but there were many Sundays and some Saturdays, on which we would leave south Georgia around 4 in the morning. We would then get to Atlanta just in time to make it to the stadium for the first pitch.

I remember seeing guys like Dale Murphy, Rowland Office and Phil Niekro for the Braves, and opposing guys like Mike Schmidt and Steve Sax.

It’s funny I remember Sax, but we managed to get to go in 1982 when the Braves actually won the division. We got to see Atlanta play the Dodgers, and I remember vividly Tom Lasorda drawing boos from the crowd when he came out and made Pascual Perez take off his necklaces. Funny how things stick with a guy.

Congrats to Tom and Greg (and I almost forgot Columbus’ own Frank Thomas) on being named Hall-of-Famers. Also...thanks Tom for being a part of a special memory for me. I really appreciate it.

 

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