Sunday, April 22, 2007

(Almost) perfect night for baseball

ROME, Ga., April 21-- Well, if the Rome Braves had only cooperated, it would have been perfect.

Is there anything better than a beautiful spring night at the ballpark? Don't think so. Can't convince me otherwise.

Tonight here at State Mutual Stadium, 5,105 fans pack the place to root for the Braves. The temperature hovered around 80 degrees at the 7:03 p.m. first pitch. Hardly a cloud in the sky.

Thought I had driven a good distance to be at the park. Wayne Dryden, sitting next to me in Section 200, is from Los Angeles. He comes to Georgia ever so often to see his daughter. She shoes horses and lives in nearby Calhoun.

Wayne is a trial lawyer. He lives in Pasadena. After he pulls out his wallet and shows me her picture, Wayne tells me that he and his girlfriend traveled to China last year. They saw the Great Wall and had a great time.

His other daughter lives in Denver. Wayne makes the loop from L.A. to Colorado to Georgia and back. He says they came to the game tonight on a whim.

"This is great," he says. "A rural community at its finest."

The guy to my right lives in Cartersville. He and his wife have brought their son to the game for Scout Night.

"This is the first time I've been to a game," he says. "We should come more often, but we're usually busy with Scouts."

The Braves fall behind quickly. They never have a chance once the Columbus Catfish (ain't that a great name?) score four runs in the fifth to go ahead 6-1.

But the blue sky and the Charlie Daniels song on the PA ("The South's Gonna Do It Again!") and the conversation more than make up for the Braves' impotent offense. The final is 7-1, but I'm glad I've made the drive down from the Chattanooga tournament.

What a time it was. You should have been here. Wish I could have found a way to keep the sun up in the clouds a while longer.

This was one night you just didn't want to end.

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