With Turner Field, it’s a strange goodbye

Photo by Sean Breslin

For days, local sports stations have been chronicling the 20 seasons played at Turner Field in preparation for Sunday’s final Atlanta Braves game at the stadium. All season long, at the stadium itself, they’ve been playing a pregame montage of all the Braves’ greatest moments in the Ted since 1997.

It’s not a good sign when you’ve played 20 seasons in a ballpark, made the playoffs 12 times, and the “greatest moments” montage is only 30 seconds long.

What we’re left with is personal memories, since there weren’t many good ones made on the field. I attended my first game at Turner Field when I was nine years old and spent a half-dozen or more nights each summer in this stadium during my youth, then my adulthood.

I had my first date with my wife in the upper deck behind the first-base line.

(Also read: Statistics suggest Turner Field really is cursed)

That’s what we’re leaving behind at Turner Field. When you haven’t won a playoff series since 2001 and can only remember about seven good moments in two decades of baseball – 1,618 games, with one to play on Sunday – what else is there to remember with fondness?

Seriously, this was the best moment the Braves ever had at Turner Field: a freaking walk-off walk to get to the only World Series the Braves would play in their current stadium.

It’s much more difficult to figure out the lowest moment in Turner Field history, though it’s hard to go anywhere but up from the moment fans littered the field with bottles and other trash during the 2012 Wild Card game against the St. Louis Cardinals. That, by the way, was the 11th and final time an opponent advanced to the next round of the playoffs on Turner’s field.

It’s hard to eulogize a stadium with fondness when we had to watch 11 opponents in 20 seasons celebrating on its field. That’s the legacy of Turner Field – the party was always here, but seldom was it the home team popping bottles.

Though I admittedly attended fewer playoff games than most (were my parents supposed to pull me out of school for those afternoon games or something?), I’ve still yet to see the Braves win a postseason game in person, and Turner Field’s hex is a big reason for that. The Braves were 15-23 at home in postseason games from 1997 on. They hosted two World Series games and lost both.

Perhaps the best news about Sunday is that the Detroit Tigers sit 1.5 games out of the American League Wild Card, meaning there’s no chance we send off the Ted with an opponent celebrating on our field, fitting as it would be.

For Braves fans, Sunday will be about remembering the good times they spent at the stadium, whether the team was winning or losing. It’s one final time to get together at 755 Hank Aaron Drive and mill about the Chop House or stand in a long line to get an H&F Burger. But both of those landmarks will be moving to SunTrust Park in even bigger form, so it’s hard to truly miss what you’ll see again in April.

Here’s to bigger and better memories on the field after the Braves exit the Ted for good.

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