Once upon a time in Macon, Georgia, the Braves played at Luther Williams Field. No, not the Major League team that's been firmly ensconced in Atlanta for my lifetime at least, but the minor league team. Not long before the team moved north to Rome (also Georgia), my father and uncle took me to see my first, and so far only, minor league game. The day was blisteringly hot and Macon is perilously near the state's gnat-line, but our seats were in the shaded part of the stands.
For background, all my life, my family has loved baseball with a weird, almost religious fervor that they reserve for...nothing else. It's uncanny. It's also something that somehow got skipped in my part of our genetic code. I could love watching the game with my grandfather, for instance, but I could not find my love of the game itself. But that day in Macon, I did feel something, possibly brought on by the unique gusto with which minor league players play the game. Perhaps heat exhaustion. Nevertheless, despite having watched many Braves games in Atlanta, I found myself drawn to the action on the field like I never had been before. To the abandon. To the drama. To the pathos of a team soon bound for another city, far from their fans and familiar Luther Williams.
I learned to appreciate the beauty and spirit of baseball that day, if only for a little while.