Vague memories, lessons learned make better stories - Johnny Jackson

Vague memory serves some Atlanta Braves fans about their milestones. And their recollections get better as years pass.

One such fan remembers turning an unassisted double play as a little league shortstop.

He caught a fireball that appeared to burn through his glove, enough to fool the runner at second base who assumed the ball jetted into the outfield. The runner was a friend and catcher for the opposing team, of course-a stocky gent who put every effort into rounding the bases as fast as he could.

But the ball was caught. The catcher was caught too.

People remember some experiences in slow-motion theatre, as if the mind scrutinized every blazon detail frame-by-frame. The ball game ended at twilight, a credit to the catcher who did not see the ball caught. The scene has a gray hue these days, which makes for more colorful stories.

The shortstop hid the hard-hit ball in his glove pocket as his catcher friend chugged along. Not-even halfway to third base, the eager shortstop tagged his friend on the shoulder. And the umpire called him out.

It caused a field of unrest for the two friends, unspoken though. Spectators were involved too.

One coach was upset by the play his catcher made, or did not make. He was unreasonably upset, and that got him thrown out the game. Notwithstanding, parents there to watch the game applauded the end of the sad episode.

Though the shortstop remembers the play, the catcher would have thought nothing about the play. Except now, he probably remembers the irate coach. At least, the shortstop has that memory still, vague as it seems.

There were two notable observations at that little league game, rather lessons practiced and lessons learned.

First was the awareness of (game) circumstances and situations. Then, there was the value of leadership and mentorship. And make no mistake, the latter is most important.

This story started in the early nineties, during the Atlanta Braves' run toward 14 consecutive division titles.

Many credit the "Baby Braves" for the most recent division title. More than that, the success has been supported by veterans who selflessly see themselves as leaders and mentors by design.

Less was said about talent from the rookie and veteran Braves celebrating their unexpected, unpresecendented continuum of division titles. More was said about learning and teaching than anything else.

There seems to be no figurative use of the word school for the Braves organization; school seems to be literal and actual for the organization.

It sounds like a boring observation. Admittedly it is barely sufferable, but it may be a resounding reason the Braves have succeeded into 14 consecutive division titles.

True to the cliche, the Braves don't rebuild, they reload with team players and give their fans vague memories.

Maybe the stories will get better as years pass.

Johnny Jackson is the education reporter for News Daily. He can be reached at 770-478-5753 or jjackson@news-daily.com .