Broke out my newest pair of New Balance 990s for Saturday's John Smoltz bobblehead night at CoolRay Field in Gwinnett. Arrived over an hour before the gates opened and was soon joined in line by Cumming Justice of the Peace Johnny Tallant (green shirt above), his friend Max, and my newest bobblehead friend: former Single A general manager RJ.
Above: obligatory photo of the GBraves relievers make their way to the bullpen after greeting the starters warming up in short left field.
That's RJ above, sitting behind Old Max, dressed in tan. Max always brings his glove to the game. Gotta like that. Also saw five other bobblehead friends, including Bobblehead Bobby Myers, Joe da Kid Shirley, and Jessica from work. Saw another co-worker as well.
Several condo-dwellers took in the game from their deck. John Smoltz made a brief appearance to throw out the first pitch - caught by his son, who apparently works for the GBraves.
Centerfielder Mallex Smith led off the bottom of the first for the GBraves with a bunt single, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Rightfielder Todd Cunningham sacrificed Smith to third. Smith scored on a 5-3 groundout by the Braves latest acquisition: Cuban third-baseman Hector Olivera.
In the first five innings the GBraves leadoff hitter reached base on a hit, but they were the only five hits the team collected.
Since I was nearby I snapped the above photo of the Can Race, quite artfully choreographed by the three participants. Earlier in the game the fella in the white Heyward jersey (two rows in front of me) muffed a foul ball. Luckily for him the ball dropped down to his wife (dark hair in blue).
In the eighth inning I walked back down the right field line and noticed a visitor in the Norfolk Tides bullpen wearing street clothes. Didn't take long to figure out who it was: Braves Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro, a frequent visitor to CoolRay Field. Niekro was in deep discussion about his signature pitch: the knuckleball.
I wasn't the only one snapping pictures, by the way. RJ walked by and I directed his attention to the bullpen visitor.
Before I left I happened to notice the crocked right field line (above).