Atlanta. The town is alive. Baseball is in the air. I am part of a crowd of 42,000. We are loping across a footbridge toward Truist Park like the Children of Israel.
I am here to watch the Atlanta Braves square off against the Miami Marlins in a battle until death. Should be a good game.
A kid next to me is decked in Braves apparel. He is clad in red, struggling to keep up with his dad’s long legs.
The kid is gaunt and pale. His neck is lean. And his hair is missing. But he is freckled. Like someone dipped him in syrup and rolled him in confetti.
“Go Braves,” the kid says to me.
“Go Braves,” I say.
The boy is animated. Happy. Crazy with excitement. He is holding his dad’s hand as they walk. I notice the boy has evidence of a PICC line in his neck. A hospital bracelet on his wrist.
“Are you excited about the game?” I ask.
“Who’s your favorite player?”
He shrugs. “Which year?”
Shrug. “I like them all this year.”
“What about last year?”
“How about 1981?” I say.
“Phil Neikro,” says his father.
Finally, the boy isn’t able to walk anymore. He’s too tired. So his dad hoists him onto his shoulders and says, “How about a ride, Jim Ed?”
Jim Ed. Great name.
The boy sits on his father’s shoulders, and towers above the rest of the crowd. He is king.
Our tiny hero shouts, “Go Braves!” to everyone he passes.
The kid loves to get responses from unsuspecting fans. He doles out several high-fives. Lots of shouts. A few people are kind enough to do the Tomahawk Chop.
“Go Braves!” they all shout.
When we get into the stadium, it’s Disneyworld. Imagine a county fair held at a baseball diamond. That’s Truist Park.
Those of us unfortunate enough to have been born…