Monday, April 06, 2009

Baseball Place No. 42: Braves Museum and Hall of Fame; Alternative Place No. 42A) Disney's Wide World of Sports

Josh Pahigian makes the case that Turner Field is best at entertaining fans when there is no baseball to be played.

I think he means that there are interesting things to see even if the team isn’t there. Or, he could mean that keeping Chipper Jones far away makes any place a better one.

Alas, he takes us to the Ivan Allen Jr. Braves Museum as spot No. 42 in his “101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out.”

Allen was a two-term mayor of Altanta in the 1960s, and was one of the folks who wooed the team out of Milwaukee.

I suppose if one was a Braves fan, this would be a pretty cool place. It sounds pretty extensive. I bet there’s a rogues gallery of Mets killers – Chipper, Terry Pendleton, Brian Jordan, John Smoltz and the rest of the hooligans.

Naturally, I haven’t been there. But I know of another place the Braves call home where you can have a lot more fun when the team isn’t there. Naturally, I’m speaking about:

Alternative Spot No. 42A) Disney’s Wide World of Sports.

Yes, the Braves abandoned beautiful little West Palm Beach Stadium for a complex at Disney World that rivals some major league ballparks.

We visited Disney in 2002 with my folks, and Dad and I were allowed to sneak away to a game to see the Braves and the Mets on March 10.
Braves fans are directed to Turner Field, Cooperstown, Pro Player Stadium, Williamsport...and Madison Square Garden? Has baseball ever been played there?

The Braves have been training there for five years at this point, and it was spectacular. The ballpark has two decks, and there is plenty of seating on the grass along the outfield. Being Disney, there were plenty of shops and concessions, all of them were nice.

There are neat pennants that serve as signs and ads, but the batter’s eye and scoreboard are kind of odd, looking like a giant green wall. Something just looks out of place.

It’s part of a Wide World of Sports complex with facilities of just about every kind imaginable, because the Mouse does nothing half-way.
Roberto Alomar signed autographs for a long time.

The Mets, of course, were by 2002 in a free-fall. That day I was able to see the two arrivals, Mo Vaughn and Roberto Alomar, moves that seemed right at the time but probably contributed to Steve Phillips’ departure at season’s end.

The remnants of the 2000 NL Champs also were on display, with Jay Payton, Edgardo Alfonzo and Timo Perez all in the game.
Pitching proved the undoing, with Jeff D’Amico throwing that day. He was the fourth starter, finishing 6-10 with an ERA close to 5.00.

The Braves that day rolled out their new player, now-Met Gary Sheffield, who homered that day.

Happily, the Mets teed off on some Braves spring pitching that day for a 12-3 win, making me think that maybe things weren’t going to be as bad as they eventually turned out to be.
A baseball fan staying at Disney has to check out the All-Star Sports Resort. Each section of the sprawling hotel is dedicated to a different sport, but the baseball wing is the best, with a huge pool shaped like an infield.


JLC 1863 said...

Happy Opening Day Dave...


Steve J. Rogers said...

I've been to the Turner Field Hall and it is quite nice. Not as mind blowing as I'm sure the Reds' hall is, but it was a nice little setup. Filled with info on Braves history from Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta.

I think Pendelton just got in the last year or so, I think he is the only 91-05 Brave in at the moment (I guess retirement is a qualification).

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave,
Sounds like a Mikey Mouse operation if you ask me...Sorry, I couldn't help myself. I have to give you credit for giving any information on the hated Braves (second only to that other team in the Bronx).
Right now the Mets are undefeated and that makes me happy!!