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Mandy Mitchell

The Mitchell Report: My last chance to cheer

Posted July 27

The day I met Tom Glavine at a Spring Training game in the mid-90s.

Thoughts on the sports world I can't share in a 5 minute sportscast. Some Triangle news. Some not.

When I was growing up I had a giant white board in my room where I would write out the schedule for the Braves. Next to each game I would write "TG", "GM" or "JS" to remind me who was pitching each night. Since the games were on TBS, I rarely missed a pitch (let alone a game) and could tell you from the first inning whether or not Tom Glavine had his "stuff". We all have an origin as sports fans and  for me, it was the Atlanta Braves of the 90s.

Glavine, Greg Maddux and Bobby Cox went into the Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday, sparking a feeling I didn't see coming. I sat on my couch watching the induction ceremony when it occurred to me: This was the very last time I would have the chance to cheer for this group.

I grew up in West Palm Beach, Fla., which was the spring training home for the Braves for many years. They played at the West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium, which was home to the West Palm Beach Expos during the season.

It was as great a place as a kid could ask for. My parents would allow my brother and me a few days off school a year to hang out at the ballpark -- and by "hangout" I mean spend the entire day there. We went equipped with baseball cards to get signed and gloves and stood there to watch batting practice, bullpen sessions, and eventually a game. We knew exactly how long Glavine and Maddux would pitch and were usually waiting to get something signed before they walked off the mound. I probably have 15 different items signed by each guy. They rarely turned the kids down, even the ones they saw all of the time like me and my little brother. As a fan, I was hooked.

During one of the last seasons at WPB Municipal, which is now a Home Depot, my mom pulled some strings through a friend of a friend and got us in the dugout to meet Glavine. This was a surprise and I can't remember a single thing I said, but I was so mad at myself because I was wearing a Greg Maddux t-shirt that day. I hoped Tom wouldn't be too offended by my unfortunate choice of clothing. He graciously took a picture with me and signed yet another autograph. It was the greatest day of my young life.

Today brought me back to those memories I treasure so much and allowed me to remember a time when being a fan was always great and never a disappointment.

As we get older, we lose the starry eyes in which we look at our sports teams. We run out of time to watch a pitch (let alone a game) and we stop seeing sports for what they are supposed to be: Fun. If you want to feel old in an instant, watch your childhood heroes go into the Hall of Fame. If you are lucky enough to have that happen, as I was today, take the chance to cheer one last time and remember why you started out as a fan in the first place.

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  • BB5 Jul 30, 7:15 p.m.

    Looking back, I'm just glad the umps gave Glavine & Mad Dog 2, 3, 4, sometimes 6 to 8 inches off the plate.

    Kiddin'......2 great pitchers. They represented the Braves well & nice story.

  • coonie78 Jul 29, 3:10 p.m.

    Great story Mandy. I made the trek to Cooperstown Sunday, it was an experience I'll never forget.

  • gregoryrjones Jul 28, 2:19 p.m.

    From one Braves fan to another, "That was on the money." I started watching the Braves when you knew the color code of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium better than the players!!! I was in 4th, 5th and 6th grade then. It was amazing to see them rise to where they are now and I have enjoyed every moment of the journey.

    With Glavine, you had to get him within the first three innings. If you didn't, you wouldn't.

  • 2thebeach Jul 28, 8:21 a.m.

    "Bravo"

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Jul 27, 10:08 p.m.

    Great piece, Mandy - thanks for sharing. Today may be the last time you get to see this remarkable group together, but you have memories that will last a lifetime. And you turned your love of sports into a career - good for you!

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