I knew I had missed the beginning of the game, but I figured as early as it was that neither team had scored yet. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the opponent already had ten. The score was ten to nothing. That’s like a touchdown, extra point, and a field goal, except I’m not talking about football. I’m talking about ten homeruns...in the first inning. I’m talking about my beloved Braves. The Atlanta Braves have become the Buffalo Bills of baseball. The Bills made it to the Super Bowl four years in a row and lost all four. Well, at lease Atlanta has won the World Series once, but that was twenty-four years ago. They have played in the world-series five times, but not lately, and lost four of them. This year we had our hopes up once again.
I have been a Braves fan most of my life. The Milwaukee Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966. That’s when I starting following them. I don’t remember all the players on that team, but they had Felipe Alou, Eddie Matthews, Phil Niekro, Joe Torre, and of course, hammering Hank Aaron. Their team colors were black and white, as were every other team’s, at least on my television set. Not many games were televised back then. That was long before Ted Turner, TBS, and the beginning of daily Braves’ baseball. We usually got only one or two games a week, and even that wasn’t often the Braves. I followed them in the newspaper and listened to them on the radio...a.m. radio. In the back yard I pretended to play for the Braves. I knew only one thing would prevent me from playing for them one day - I stunk at baseball. I was pretty good at everything except batting, catching, and throwing.
Through the years, I’ve noticed certain times when the Braves are sure to lose and one is when I go. I finally got to go watch them play in person. They probably wouldn’t have won that day had I played, but they didn’t win without me, either. In fact, almost every time I’ve gone to watch them in person, they’ve lost. One time, at the old Atlanta Fulton Stadium I lost too. They lost the game, and I lost my car. That was in 1986, and I owned a still almost new 1984 Buick Regal. That evening I watched Bob Horner become only the eleventh player in history to hit four homeruns in one game. Unbelievably, the Braves still managed to lose that game eleven to eight, to the Astros. I was upset but not nearly as much as when I returned to the parking lot and couldn’t find my car. Someone had driven it home...to their home, not mine. All they left me was a screwdriver.
Another time the Braves are bound to lose is in the playoffs, usually in the first round. This year they won their division in regular season. Their division’s runner up, the Washington Nationals, have advanced to the league championship games, while the Braves have advanced to the house! They lost that final playoff game by a score of thirteen to one, but they made history. No other team has ever allowed ten runs in the first inning of a championship series.
So, why do I still root for the Braves? I guess for the same reason some people believed in me when I wasn’t doing so well in life. I believe God, more than anyone else, pulls for us when we aren’t doing well. I’m so thankful He doesn’t leave us or forsake us. As for the Braves, you just wait until next year.
— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.