Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sayonara R-Braves, you will be missed

While I've known for awhile that they were going, talking to my Dad about the impending departure of the Richmond Braves today made it more real. The Richmond Braves, the Atlanta Braves' AAA affiliate, are packing and moving to suburban Atlanta for the 2009 season. Unable to negotiate the building of a new stadium with Richmond mayor Doug Wilder and the city government, the Braves have elected to take their business elsewhere.

I grew up in the greater Richmond area, and it was always a delight to take in an R-Braves game on a lazy summer night. I loved going to see the next talent, the great players and heroes of tomorrow. You could always get amazing seats too, for very reasonable (under $10) prices.

Over the years I got to see Chipper Jones, Javy Lopez, Ryan Langerhans and more at the beloved Richmond ballpark. They all must have still been kids when they played. I distinctly remember Dad saying back when I was in middle school or so, "There's this kid, 18 or 19 years old, who is tearing up the minor leagues. He's going to be playing in Richmond, but only for a week or two. I want to see him before he makes it to Atlanta." He was talking about Andruw Jones.

Thanks to my Dad's insight, I was one of only a few thousand to ever see Andruw ever suit up in an R-Braves uniform. We caught one of his scant few games in Richmond. He hit one out of the park, and sure enough, only had one more game or two with the R-Braves before getting the call up to Atlanta.

I had some wonderful times in that stadium. It's a shame that the next generation of Richmonders won't have the same memories.

Goodbye Richmond Braves. You will be sorely missed. I just hope I get to see one more game before you embark.

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