In case you missed the last one, here was Ububba’s intro:
I remembered that I have a shoebox full of old event tickets—concerts, ballgames, all kinds of stuff—basically from the mid-1970s thru about 1984 or so. Of course, there was a slew of old Braves tickets in there, too, including a bunch (in picture) from that crazy 1982 season.
So here is part two of the games in the box:
Went with a Mets fan from Pittsburgh (I swear), who lived on my dorm hall. It was a Tuesday night with a tiny crowd, so we easily scored seats behind home plate ($6!). We sat next to Mookie Wilson’s brother, who looked just like him. Mahler went the distance—he always seemed to pitch when I went—and the Braves battered future CYA winner Mike Scott with an 8-run 2nd inning, which included HRs from Murphy & Hubbard. With George Foster up later in the game, my Met friend said, “It would be just like Foster to hit a meaningless HR here.” And he did just that. (Time 2:02; Attendance 9,581; Braves 27-16)
Working at Ft. Benning for the summer, I drove up from Columbus for this Saturday-night affair. On the strength of a Rufino Linares solo HR in the 7th, Atlanta took a 4-3 lead into the 9th. Then it got ugly. Gene Garber & Al Hrabosky coughed up the lead & left the bases loaded with 2 outs & the Braves down 5-4. Torre then called on Bedrosian, who promptly gave up a cannon-shot GSHR to Chili Davis that landed deep in the RCF bleachers. It was a long 100 miles back home. (Time 3:00; Attendance 30,497; Braves 39-24)
A perfect day. Drove up from Columbus early Sunday on the 4th of July, only to find the game completely sold out, a real rarity back then. Luckily, a woman appeared on the plaza holding up a pair of tickets in the 2nd row of the uppers behind home plate for face value – $8. We’ll take those, thanks. Bob Horner hit 2 near-identical homers, an efficient Bob Walk went into the 8th, then Bedrosian shut the door. A glorious Independence Day. (Time 2:19; Attendance 48,905; Braves 48-29)
Here’s when things started to get shaky—it was Game 4 of the 19-of-21 slide. Up 10.5 games on the Dodgers, the Braves dropped a home twin-bill to L.A. on Friday. Then, the Braves got shut out by Fernando Valenzuela on Saturday & the Dodgers had picked up 3 games in 2 days. Everyone was nervous, but the big Sunday crowd got a charge early, as Chambliss crushed a 1st-inning GSHR off Auburn’s Joe Beckwith. Alas, the Braves couldn’t hold on, as L.A. clobbered Niekro, Carlos Diaz & Gene Garber to complete the 4-game sweep—2 HRs for Dusty Baker & another bomb from Pedro Guerrero. A 10.5-game lead had shrunk to 6.5 – <i>uh-oh</i>. (Time 3:12; Attendance 33,957; Braves 61-41)
By now, the Braves had fallen out of first and were suddenly in a pennant race with the Dodgers and the Giants. Still licking their wounds from a disastrous West Coast trip—10 losses in 11 games—the Braves dropped 3 more at home to Montreal before they ran up a 3-game winning streak. On this Sunday, they’d sweep the Mets to make it 4 in a row and stand one game behind L.A. in the division. Nobody pitched well, really. For the Mets, it was Rick Ownby, Pete Falcone, Jesse Orosco & Tom Hausman. For the Braves, Mahler, Donnie Moore, Bedrock, Diaz & Garber. Murphy hit a 2-run job off Orosco (#30) to take the lead late. (Murphy really annihilated LHP that 1st MVP year: .351/.453/.649 in 159 PA.) Then in the 9th, Dave Kingman hit a titanic blast (also #30) off Garber to pull within one, but that’s as close as they got, with Geno earning another shaky save. From here on in, it would be a day-to-day battle until the very last game. (Time 3:28; Attendance 20,466; Braves 67-56)
After That: I’m not really sure why I didn’t see any more Braves games in 1982, but it probably had something to do with school starting up again in mid-September. There was also the matter of Georgia football, which essentially ruled out attending Braves games on most September Saturdays. (Back then, we had this guy named Herschel Walker…)
When the playoffs started, for some reason, I figured I’d go to Game 4 or 5 of the NLCS vs. St. Louis, but, as we know, those games never happened. Still, with the record start, Murphy’s MVP season and the first real pennant race many of us ever experienced, it’s difficult not to remember 1982 fondly. For a generation of Braves fans, it was all new to us.