Do you know what I miss? Ticket stubs. These days, I usually just print out my tickets myself, and let’s be honest, these really aren’t useful or suitable for collecting. You can also go totally paperless for a lot of tickets now. This means there’s nothing to show you were at a specific game. Sure, you’ll have your GameDay, but years later, all that can do is narrow the range of days you were at the ballpark. A ticket stub is not only a ful collectable, but, when combined with a box score from Baseball Reference, it can jog memories as well as any baseball card.
In early 2000, I moved to Atlanta from Chicago. I had been to a few games at Turner Field during trips home, but I was never a regular at the park. I was determined to change that in 2000. There was nothing I missed more during my time away than semi-regularly attending Braves games. I won’t say the Braves were the reason I left Chicago to return home to Georgia, but they were certainly a factor. For a lot of people, that will sound strange, but I love baseball and I love the Atlanta Braves.
I might have missed the opportunity to fully appreciate his MVP season of 1999, but in my first three years back in Atlanta, I saw Chipper Jones play a lot and there weren’t many players in the game better. Night in and night out he was the very definition of a professional hitter. In person and on television I saw a lot of Chipper in those years, but, my memory isn’t always so good. I have some very specific memories of Chipper, but I can’t always remember where they occurred, and whether I saw them on television or I saw them in person. I don’t know if it’s just a symptom of getting old or the sheer number of baseball games I’ve watched.
I didn’t save the ticket stubs from every Braves game I saw, but I do have many of them. I pulled out a bunch the other night and went through them. I went to Baseball Reference and checked out the box scores from those dates and searched for memories. I found a few.
I was at the Ted on June 25, 2000. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I couldn’t tell you what the day was like. I don’t remember the weather, but I can assume it was hot. I sat in section 105, that’s the first base side, in row 13 which means I almost certainly got my ticket from a scalper. In the days before Stub Hub, I did that often. I don’t remember much about Kevin Millwood’s performance that day, except I do remember the end of his day. In the 8th, he gave up a two run homer to Marquis Grissom allowing the Brewers to tie the game. It was tied into the bottom of the ninth when Davey Lopes brought in poor Curt Leskanic to pitch. He had issues. After retiring Javy Lopez, he walked Walt Weiss on four pitches. Keith Lockhart was up next and he came up swinging and sat down shortly after. It looked like Leskanic might send the game to extra innings.
The wheels came off for the Brewers reliever. He walked Quilvio Veras on four straight pitches. Andruw Jones was up next and his bat never left his shoulder. Leskanic managed a single strike among four more balls and the Braves had the bases loaded with the MVP on his way to the plate. The crowd was confident that Chipper could bring the run home, and he did. All he needed was his well known patience. Link Andruw, Veras and Weiss, Chipper’s bat never left his shoulder. Ball 1. Ball 2. Called strike. Ball 3. Ball 4. Walk off.
In all the hullabaloo surrounding the Braves potential acquisition of Ryan Dempster in July, I had forgotten that he started against the Braves for the Marlins in a game I attended late in the 2001 season. Kevin Millwood was the starter and in the top of the first, he gave up a three run homer to Preston Wilson. I may not have remembered that Dempster was on the mound for the Marlins, but I do remember the bottom of the first inning. Dempster started off the game by walking Marcus Giles on four straight pitches. Veteran Julio Franco took five pitches, and four were balls. Chipper worked a full count, which included a wild pitch, and then took his walk to load the bases. Brian Jordan struck out swinging and then B.J. Surhoff plated the first run with a sacrafice fly. Dempster had his chance to get out of the inning with minimal damage. That didn’t happen.
Dempster threw four straight balls to Andrew Jones to again load the bases. Rey Sachez belted a single scoring two. He then walked Paul Bako on five pitches to, yet again, load the bases. His night ended when he walked in a run by throwing four straight balls to Kevin Millwood. The Fish brough in Benito Baez and he wasn’t much better. First he walked Marcus Giles plating the Braves fifth run, and giving them the lead. Then he gave up a single to Julio Franco scoring another run. The bases remained loaded and Chipper Jones came up to the plate. I may not remember every detail of every game, but I could have told you what Chipper did here. He worked another full count and then took Baez deep for the grand slam. Chipper would have an RBI triple later in the game and the Braves would score 20.
I may not have remembered the exact game, or even the year, but you don’t forget seeing Chipper Jones draw a bases loaded walk to win a game and you don’t forget seeing him hit a grand slam. In 2002, I saw him do something improbable, and for the life of me, I can’t remember it. I know I was there. I was behind home plate no less in section 201. I don’t remember the game at all. The Braves lost to the Dodgers and I tend to banish those games from my memories. I was in attendance on a night when Chipper Jones stole two bases, including third, and I can’t remember it. You would think that one would have stayed with me.
I implore you, as baseball fans and more importantly, as fans of the Braves, keep your ticket stub if you have one. If not, make sure you record somewhere that you attended a game. Then, years later, look up the box score and remember.
I may have moved back to Georgia in 2000, but my baseball card collection remained packed away, in the same boxes I had put the cards in before I left for Chicago three years earlier. I was out of the hobby. I missed seeing Chipper’s beautiful autograph on his 2000 Topps Golden Anniversary Star card. I missed seeing Chipper Jones share a relic card with the Cardinals young phenom, Albert Pujols in the 2001 Upper Deck Pros and Prospects set. I missed seeing Chipper grace Topps first Heritage set in 2001 featuring the classic 1952 design. I missed seeing Chipper on the retro mini designs of the 2002 Topps T–206 set. Fortunately, baseball cards are forever.
If you have any Chipper cards to recommend from 2000 to 2002, please, put it in the comments!
Cards Featured in this Post
- 2000 Topps Golden Anniversary Star Auto ($60)
- 2001 Topps Heritage #52 ($1)
- 2002 Topps T–206 Polar Bear Mini #22B ($2)
- 2000 Fleer Skybox #3 ($1)
- 2000 Topps Gallery Heritage Proof #TGH19
- 2000 Pacific #38 ($1)
- 2000 Topps Stadium Club #16 ($1)
- 2000 Topps Archives Rookie Reprints Relic ($5)
- 2000 Upper Deck Pros and Prospects Best in the Bigs #B5
- 2000 Topps HD 20/20 #TW2 ($3)
- 2001 Upper Deck Pros and Prospects Dual Game Used Relic (with Albert Pujols) ($20)
- 2001 Topps Stars #15 ($1)
- 2001 Topps Gallery #2 ($2)
- 2001 Leaf Rookies and Stars #10 ($1)
- 2001 Upper Deck Black Diamond #47 ($1)
- 2001 Topps Stadium Club #2 ($1)
- 2001 Fleer Triple Crown #41 ($1)
- 2002 Topps Pristine #72 ($5)
- 2002 Upper Deck Diamond Connection #45 ($1)
- 2002 Donruss Originals #393 ($1)
- 2002 Fleer Showcase Baseball Best Jersey Card ($5)
- 2002 Topps "Topps Ten" Bat Relic #TTRCJ ($5)