Jason Deal

Take me out to the ball game, Take me out with the crowd; Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack®, I don’t care if I never get back. Let me root, root, root for the home team (Braves), If they don’t win, it’s a shame. For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out, At the old ball game.

— Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer, 1908

We took Daddy out to the ball game Friday night.

He has been wanting to go for the last 40-forevers, so back a few months ago, my sister, Kristie, my brother, Kennon, and I began making plans to take in a ballgame.

It has been about 25 years since we had been to a Braves game. We went to a game at the newly opened Turner Field back in the day but haven’t made it up there since.

Mama was not so sure about any of it. But, I knew — or at least crossed my fingers — she would go along if Daddy wanted to see the game.

As our game time approached, Hurricane Ian came calling. We anxiously kept an eye on forecasts, spaghetti plots and looked for where Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel might show up next. Wherever Jim is during hurricane season means you definitely want to be somewhere else.

I am praying for the people of SW Florida and in the Carolinas, Virginia and West Virginia who were affected by the awful storm. We are blessed that we were spared from the storm.

Each successive model run got us out of the cone of uncertainty for the storm — though I was still in a cone of uncertainty about the ball game.

Daddy was no help.

“I really want to go,” he said.  But, Son, it’s up to you.”

Thursday morning I decided to swing for the fences.

We would go to Atlanta to see the Braves play.

And, we did.

The weekend could not have been more perfect, except that I wish my brother could come. He got caught at work and wasn’t able to get away.

I even braved the rat race of 10 lanes across traffic at 3 p.m. on a Friday afternoon in Atlanta to make this happen. I love my Daddy. Traffic was such, we navigated downtown at a top speed of about 22 miles per hour, before finally clearing the snarl and making it to our hotel room about a half-mile from Truist Park.

Truist Park was electric and it was packed  — with a play-off type feel — as the Braves took on the New York Mets in the first of a key NL-East division series.

We got to see Braves ace Max Fried pitch in a “gutsy” performance. We didn’t know it at the time, but found out later he had a stomach virus and had to leave the game. He matched the Mets’ ace Jacob deGrom pitch for pitch — even though he was sick.

We got to see all around good guys Austin Riley, Matt Olson and Dansby Swanson hit home runs and the Braves built a 5-2 lead.

Collin McHugh came on in relief of Fried and Raisel Iglesias and A.J. Minter kept the Mets in check. Kenley Jansen came in to close it out and promptly made a mess. He loaded the bases full of Mets in the ninth. Thankfully, he was able to pitch himself out of the jam and as the late, great Skip Caray used to say “Braves Win! Braves Win! Braves Win!”

Our Braves won 5-2. They would go on to sweep the three-game weekend series and take a two game lead in the division.

Throughout all those happenings, you just about experience sensory overload with all the sights and sounds of the ballgame. It is indeed America’s past time.

I bought a bag of Cracker Jack® and a Diet Coke. It was Ozzie Albies’ bobble head night. I participated in the Tomahawk Chop. I laughed out loud at the antics of the Home Depot tool race characters and Blooper, the Braves’ mascot, as he did the “Moonwalk” on top of the Braves dugout. And, we closed the evening with Friday night fireworks.

It was a great night full of great memories with Daddy, Mama, my sister, Kristie, brother-in-law, John, niece, Breanna and nephew, Benjamin.

I sang the words to “Take me out to the Ballgame”.

I rooted for the home team. I saw some strikeouts. The Braves did win, so it wasn’t a shame. I closed my eyes and savored the moment... and the words.

“I don’t care if I never get back.”

• Jason Deal is the news editor for The Blackshear Times. Reach him at jdeal@blacksheartimes.news.