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Southern Fried memories

Perusing old Braves box scores brings back the past

Posted: Monday May 9, 2005 3:39PM; Updated: Monday May 9, 2005 3:39PM
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Braves
One of the highlights was the Braves reaching the World Series in 1999.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Earlier this week, someone sent me a link to a Web site that has box scores of every regular season Braves game from 1969 through 2003 (a few other teams are also available). It's great to find useless stuff, like how Brian Hunter (the fat one) did at San Diego on Sept. 25, 1992. (He went 0-for-1, it turns out.)

Before visiting the site, I was thinking it would be fun to check out various games I'd attended, to recall events long since forgotten.

But even though I've been to approximately 50 Braves games in the last decade, I can't remember a single memorable one, except for Game Six of the 1999 NLCS, when Kenny Rogers walked home the winning run in the 11th inning to send the Braves to the World Series.

Other than that, the games all blend together. Every time I went, it seems like Tom Glavine started, which meant long games with dozens of throws to first. I remember being at Kevin Millwood's first home start. I remember seeing Andruw Jones hit the winning homer in the bottom of the 10th, and J.D. Drew hitting one in the bottom of the ninth last year. I remember dropping a foul pop from Rafael Furcal, the only foul ball hit near me in those 50 games.

I remember Fred McGriff's first game, which was the same night the press box caught fire. I remember a day game at Fulton Country Stadium against the Reds when I scored front row seats behind the plate. I remember taking my wife to a game and her being thoroughly disinterested.

More than specific games, when I think of the Braves I think of people selling boiled peanuts outside the stadium, Carolyn King Jones on the organ, wondering if anyone will ever hit the giant Coke bottle atop the stadium, the guy playing drums and seeking donations after the games, and MARTA still not figuring out an effective way to transport people to and from Turner Field.

Obviously, my memories are as much about the experience of the Braves as they are about the team itself, mainly because of the way the Braves have been built through the years.

Aside from the mainstays -- terrific starting pitching, fair relievers, Andruw in center, Chipper on or in a corner -- the Braves have always had a catcher that's average defensively and a bit better offensively (Johnny Estrada, these days), a young guy who's unproven but pans out and becomes a crucial cog (as Ryan Langerhans is doing right now) and a plucky white guy that Bobby Cox falls in love with (formerly Mark Lemke and Keith Lockhart, currently Pete Orr).

These are roles, which are unerringly cast by GM John Schuerholz, who has developed a system that is more productive than Billy Beane's Moneyball theorem. Call it Southern Fried Baseball. When a player's cost outweighs his effectiveness, the Braves let him walk. Every winter, they trade a few kids from their remarkably bountiful farm system for a veteran (Tim Hudson, this time). They fill the roles. The regulars do their regular things. And they keep winning.

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