Take me out to the ballgame - Kathy Jefcoats

OK, call me crazy but when my grandson, Michael George, asked me to take him to see the Braves play at Turner Field, I told him I would. He will be 6 tomorrow and is the second oldest of my six wonderful grandchildren. As I have written before, I know very little about baseball outside of three strikes, three outs, nine players, nine innings and the fact that it is not played in the rain. I figured we could cheer when everyone else did and we would be fine.

You might think I am out of my mind to even attempt such a feat on my own but as ignorant as I am about baseball, it is in my heritage to enjoy a good game. I remember sitting with my grandfather at his kitchen table in St. Louis, listening to the legendary Harry Caray call the Cardinals games in the 1960s. I didn't follow the games well but I loved the time I spent with my grandfather and seeing him get so excited about a game he could visualize only in his head.

I couldn't take Michael George without also taking Michael Lee, who is the oldest grandchild. He turned 6 on May 1. So I bought tickets for the three of us for the June 1 game against the Expos. I arranged to take the next day off so they could spend the night and see "Shrek 2." The cousins are living in Carrollton so I found out how to get to the nearest west MARTA station, at Hamilton E. Homes.

I guess I should add that I have never done this before. Anytime I've ever ridden MARTA it was with a friend who knew what she was doing and I just followed her. But I thought if I could conquer the subway system in New York, I could handle Atlanta. I was apprehensive about being in downtown Atlanta alone with two little boys but thought there might be lots of security around and there was.

In fact, I was impressed by the system. These folks in Atlanta have the Braves home games down pat. There were lots of city and transit police for help and guidance and plenty of signs. Of course, it helped that the Braves are not at the top of their game, so to speak, so far this season, it wasn't the playoffs and, come on, it was the Expos. Not a lot of people clamoring to get to Turner Field that night.

Decked out in Braves shirts and hats, we made it to Homes, got on the train – a first for the boys – and the shuttle, another first. They were excited and I took pictures of them all along the way. We got to our seats, behind the Braves dugout, and no sooner settled in to watch the first pitch than Michael Lee had to have a foam finger. All three trek out to find a vendor, buy a finger and return. I thought I knew right where we were sitting and was surprised to find people sitting in our seats. I tried to not create a big fuss but was trying to tell them to move when the usher who seated us got my attention and pointed across the aisle. Wrong seats. Sorry.

A few minutes later, it was to the bathroom. Later, to get something to drink. About the fourth inning, they started asking to go home.

I didn't think they would have the attention span to stay for the whole game but thought they'd last longer than that. Plus, I didn't know how soon the shuttle started running back to MARTA and we couldn't walk to the train. So I distracted them. The Braves were losing, despite a homerun, which sent the fireworks off – a welcome sight for the boys. They were also excited when a Braves player broke his bat when hitting the ball. But the score didn't want to budge from 3-1 and they got more and more restless. I was afraid one would fall asleep and there was no way I could carry him.

I got them to stay until the seventh inning. We then got on a shuttle and made the return trip. People on the train asked about the game and I told them the Braves were losing when we left and the way the season was going, likely lost the whole thing.

I tuned in the radio to see how the game turned out. I was not surprised to hear the Expos were up to six runs but was delighted to learn the Braves had increased their runs to three. It was the bottom of the ninth inning when three runs were batted in. The score was tied 6-6. Before I could take that in, someone hit a home run, ending the game at 7-6, Braves.

I just shook my head. The excited announcer proclaimed, "If you're in your car, you left the park too soon."

Truer words were never spoken.

Kathy Jefcoats is the public safety reporter for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or kjefcoats@henryherald.com.