I was just 13 years old when I was introduced to baseball cards by a friend. I was 14 years old when my dad and grandfather took me to my first MLB game at Atlanta's old Fulton County Stadium. It was then that the magic of a major league game captivated me and I became a fan of the game again. Collecting baseball cards help me appreciate the game a little more as I would be a little more eager to see how these players I had pictured on simple cardboard performed in real life. Growing up in Charlotte, NC the closest MLB to us was Atlanta so that played a big part in becoming a Braves fan. The other part was what and who I saw on the field during the early 90's. I'm guessing a lot of people became Braves fan's once they started to win again. I didn't even know the team wasn't that good until a few years later! My memories of the Braves revolve around the 1991 season and forward. The likes of Mark Lemke, Rafael Belliard, Jeff Blauser, Sid Bream, Francisco Cabrera, David Justice and Bobby Cox. I can remember sitting the outfield stands and my dad and grandfather (who both are no longer with us) filling me in on what everyone's responsibilities were...including the manager. From there forward I would look forward to any chance I had to scoot down I-85 to Atlanta to catch a game in person. Watching the games on TBS was always fun, but it could never compare to the atmosphere of the ball park.
So much has changed since then. The players on the field have retired or moved on to other teams. The old stadium has been torn down and replaced by Turner Field. My grandfather and dad passed away within 6 months of each other...and I'm not 14 anymore. So many of my good childhood memories revolve around baseball in some way, shape or form and whatever I did with baseball my dad was somehow involved. It's kinda weird for me to look back now on my journey as a Braves fan to see that through all of these changes I've witnessed and been a part of one thing has remained...Bobby Cox. It will really be odd looking down into the dugout and not seeing Bobby next season. What kind of impact will his absence on the bench / in the dugout have on the rest of the team? A lot remains unseen, but I do wish Bobby all the best during his retirement and I thank him for this trip down memory lane.