Here are some thoughts shared by a few Braves folks before Sunday’s season finale and the last major league game to be played at Turner Field. The Brave are moving to a new ballpark just outside the Perimeter in Cobb County in 2017 after 20 years at the ballpark that originally served as the main stadium for the 1996 Olympics.
Braves rookie shortstop Dansby Swanson
He’s an Atlanta-area native and former Marietta High School star:
“It was neat to be a part of (the final games at the stadium). Plenty of times (over the weekend) realizing what’s finally coming to an end, coming to a close. I don’t want to say, like, tear-jerking, but it’s like, wow, my childhood is almost over. That’s what it feels like. It was also like the same feeling when Harry Potter got done. It’s like, you grow up watching it and following it and the next thing you know it’s done and you’re like, wow, there’s no more of that.
He laughed. “That was such a bad comparison, but it’s kind of what it’s like. It’s like, wow, this is it.”
Braves interim manager Brian Snitker
He’s been in the organization 40 years and was a third-base coach under legendary manager Bobby Cox:
“A lot of great moments here. A lot of great games, a lot of unbelievable, Hall of Fame players that have come through here and performed on this field, and a (Hall of Fame) manager. There’s going to be a lot of people for a long time who are like, man, I watched Chipper and Smoltz and Glavine and all those guys play on this field. They brought their kids. And some young people who came as teen-agers are going to tell their kids about it, like, ‘Back at The Ted I got to watch those guys play, some of the best in the history of the game.’ So it’s going to have a lot of memories, I think, for a lot of generations.”
Any keepsake item Snitker wanted from the ballpark? He thought for a moment and smiled. “No. Maybe a seat, if I had a house. I’ve got nowhere to put it. No, I don’t think so. I think the memories and my thoughts and all that are enough.”
“It’s kind of what playoffs feel like, that ballgame last night. I remember standing there at third base when (Eric) Hinske hit that homer, and I thought the place was going to fall down. Chipper’s (walk-off against Jonathan Papelbon), too. I’m fortunate to have experienced all those on the field, and those kind of memories is what I want to take away from this place.”
“To win this last game would be great.”
Braves chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk
On Sunday’s completely sold-out final game:
“Everybody knows today matters; I feel that way too. Adam LaRoche just asked me how does it feel, am I going to miss this place. Well, any part of it that I miss is sort of overcome by the fabulous feelings about moving into the new place. It (SunTrust Park) is just all baseball, pure baseball, built for baseball….
“Bittersweet stuff. I’ve been around the team day-to-day since 1976 and I’ve seen us go through the full gamut of two stadiums. I’ve never been as excited about a facility as I am about what we’re doing. And I’ve been to every facility in baseball, pretty much. I don’t know of one that has this kind of capability (as SunTrust Park). It’s going to be terrific….
“The 50,000 people that are here (Sunday) to enjoy it with us – President Carter called at 10:30 last night and wanted to come to the game. He’s had cancer, he’s 92 years old, and he couldn’t stay away. And that sort of, I think, is emblematic of what’s going on. If you’re a card-carrying baseball fan, you just can’t stay away.”
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman
“Lot of emotions. This is my seventh year here at Turner Field, so it’s going to be a lot of different emotions running through me. Seeing all the guys coming back, seeing who tears down numbers and all that sort of thing. All the memories that you’ve had playing here….
“It means a lot to me. My big-league debut was in this stadium, so a lot of memories over 20 years that this park’s witnessed. It’s obviously going to hold a lot of meaning for me and a lot of memories. Hopefully we can make one more cool memory here and then carry it over to SunTrust Park.”
On his fondest memory of Turner Field: “Chipper’s last series. Something you’ll never forget. He’s a future Hall of Famer, so being able to play with him and seeing all those ‘10s’ (jerseys) up in the stands was pretty cool.”