Around 9:45 A.M on October 31, 2021, I sent myself out the door rummaging through my garage to find my lawn chairs. Found the chairs, loaded up my 4Runner, and set off on the 27-minute trek to The Battery to spend the spookiest day of the year surrounded by nothing but baseball on its biggest stage.
It was time for Game 5 of the 2021 World Series between the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros. There was nowhere else on earth I would rather be. No Halloween party, local gathering, or medical emergency could deter me from my plans that day.
My friend and I arrived around 10:30 a.m. to set up for the day. It was early enough that the crowd was at a nice, healthy medium but not packed by any means. We found an ideal spot for our chairs right along the back border of the lawn, almost leaning against the barrier to the main thoroughfare behind it.
We looked around, enjoyed a celebratory high five at the excitement of our seating reservations, and decided it was high time to find food and libations before the crowd got to an extreme level.
Following a mediocre-at-best lunch at Wahlburgers and taking a trip to a nearby gas station to buy some FAR less expensive beverages, we made our way back to the Battery. We returned to what only can be described as similar to Times Square on New Year's Eve.
Due to what I can only assume was a slight oversight by the local governing bodies, we returned to see the space around us filled up faster than a Prius at a gas station. Because of the significant size of the crowd, local law enforcement had to completely shut down the Battery allowing no one in, no matter what.
I started to panic. How on earth was I going to get back to my seats? Did we make the wrong choice going outward for supplies? I feared the worst, thinking my experience ended prematurely.
The baseball gods were in my favor that day, luckily.
An Atmosphere to Remember
I let out a sigh of relief as I remembered my urge to show off my seats with my friends who could not make it. I flashed my boast-filled picture to the event staff guarding the barriers, shuffled as quickly as I could from the back end of the Battery towards the lawn area, and, a short 45 minutes later, we arrived back at our seats.
I took a quick look around upon arriving back and just took in as much as I could. The smell of the nearby Italian eatery Antico filled the air. A sea of red, white, and gold packed out every single inch of the place. News outlets floated around like mosquitoes in the Georgia humidity and electricity filled the air that remains unmatched by any force in existence.
It was unlike anything I have ever experienced in person. The atmosphere just felt...different; almost as if everything was heightened to the strongest possible level.
I turned back around toward the stage where we would be watching the game, only to see another makeshift stage out of the corner of my left eye which sat the Fox Sports analysts for their pre-game show.
Seated not 20 feet from me were legendary players Frank Thomas, David Ortiz, and Alex Rodriguez. Three players whom I idolized growing up talking about the sport that bonded us all together and in my own hometown? Come on, there's nothing cooler than that.
As I processed everything around me, I knew I had to get their attention somehow and I knew there was no way in heck that I would get anywhere close to the stage. So, what do I do? Well, the first thing that popped into my head.
The arm on the left belongs to A-Rod and the one on the right belongs to David Ortiz.
In my defense: it worked and now I'm forever in the broadcast of that game. No one can ever take that away from me.
Anyway, following my brief impulse demanding I be the center of attention, I sat down, we all settled in, we participated in the pre-game usuals like the National Anthem, and we were all ready; all of us on the lawn, everyone along the barriers, all 100,000+ of us packed in like sardines were ready for one thing: to see the Braves take home the Commissioner's trophy in the comfort of our own backyard.
As we now know, the Braves didn't finish the job that evening. That didn't stop them, though, from fighting and posing a true threat against Houston; one that had everyone believing the series would end right then and there.
The Atlanta bats worked quickly and early as they loaded the bases almost immediately. Framber Valdez, who finished 2021 with a 3.14 ERA on an 11-6 record, was shaken up early and allowed the Braves to take advantage of his weakness and probable nerves.
Cobb County held their breath through that entire inning. In a sea of people with a populous that rivaled any crowd on earth, you could almost certainly hear a pin drop. The anticipation brought on by the red-hot Braves capitalizing on every wave of momentum thus far filled the minds of fans in the surrounding area. Everyone felt a big moment was coming, we just didn't know when.
With two outs and ducks on the pond in the bottom of the first, Adam Duvall came to the plate. He was looking to stay true to his form which saw him hit 16 HR and 45 RBI in just 55 games with the club in 2022.
The proven postseason hero was ready to remind everyone just exactly who he was. Every single person loomed at the edge of their seat, chanting the tomahawk rally cry in perfect unison. Something was going to happen, and soon; it almost felt as if everyone was bracing for impact.
Eventually, it did; and it was louder and more powerful than I ever expected.
The loud, commanding crack of the bat jolted everyone's head right to the large screen on the lawn and as soon as the bat hit the ground, it was on.
The ball sailed off the bat of the native Kentuckian, carrying deeper and deeper until it eventually found its way over the Chop House wall, earning Atlanta an early 4-0 lead. This seemingly cemented the game and the series for the Braves.
As soon as he threw his bat on the ground, every single person knew it was gone. The rising anticipation and excitement kept growing with every inch the ball traveled, climaxing to one, giant moment of elation which is unmatched by any experience on earth.
Once that ball landed over the fence confirming the home run, the Battery was louder than any I'd ever heard it before. Those along the borders jumped and cheered so hard that the barriers themselves couldn't contain it, seeing several knocked over as the emotions of the large crowd took over. Beverages and hats flew through the air and the ground shook as the crowd reacted to one of the most powerful postseason at-bats the Braves have ever seen.
The small stature of the lawn turned into what looked like a mosh pit at a metal concert. Every single person went nearly feral, jumping and flailing around in an excitement that can only be expressed as hyperbolic jubilation. I was thrown around like a rag doll, had enough beer poured on me to properly stock an open bar, fists flung in my face, chest, and stomach, and knocked over nearly a dozen times.
None of it bothered me a I've never felt that level of excitement in my entire life.
Even though the Braves went on to lose that game and extend the streak of World Series winners claiming it all in visiting ballparks, no one really seemed to care. Yeah, the loss didn't feel good but that didn't matter. We got to witness one of the greatest displays of hitting on the largest stage in the world and that stage just happened to be in our backyard.
There has not once been an instance where I haven't felt a rush when thinking back on this moment and I'm all but certain that I'm not the only one.