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Being a Braves fan, through rain and long lines

Being the impatient person that I am, standing in line on a rainy Saturday in Franklin waiting for an autograph of a semi-famous Atlanta Braves pitcher was not my definition of fun.

But when you promise your little brother you’re going to get him a signed baseball, by golly, you better get him a signed baseball.

In my grouchy desperation, some eavesdropping mixed with some reminiscing turned my attitude around completely.

You see, the Braves are the unrivaled baseball team of the South, and their fans are as devoted to the success of the team as they are to going to church on Sunday, drinking sweet tea and saying “please” and “thank you”.

How do I know? I was raised as one of those fans.

Back in Franklin, 5- and 80-year-olds alike were dressed to the nines in their finest jerseys, caps and T-shirts, tomahawk chomping at the bit for a chance to get the autograph of an Atlanta Braves hopeful. Such loyalty. Such excitement for an otherwise gloomy day in winter.

Every player was analyzed that afternoon:

Chipper, the team’s aging star, is good, but kind of old. It might be time for him to retire.

Hanson, the explosive pitcher, is going to be a beast if he stays healthy.

JJ probably should have been traded but nobody was going to help enough to be worth losing the effective ace.

Uggla, a slugger in every right, can’t slump. Offense is going to be a struggle if he and Heyward can’t pick it up.

Venters, somehow effective, never knows where his sinker goes. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter because the batter will swing at it 90 percent of the time.

Standing next to me in line was a Chipper Jr., no more than 8 years old in his No. 10 jersey. He said he plays all the positions in the outfield and is a catcher. He told me he really wants to play second base or shortstop.

His dad said he really wants to play in the infield, and hopes his bat will help get him there. Father and son have been waiting for this event for weeks, and it’s all Chipper Jr. can talk about.

That conversation took me back at least a decade. When I wasn’t at dance, I was playing catch with my little brother in the yard. Some days we’d work on grounders. Others, we’d work on pop-ups by trying to throw the ball as high as our pine trees and not let it hit either one of us on the head. There was no greater thrill than being able to run in for dinner and tell Mom we hit Dad’s knuckleball after he got home from work.

Turns out those timeless traditions that brought my family together are the type to bring the Braves nation together, too. All of a sudden, standing in line wasn’t so bad. In fact, it was kind of fun.

Sports editor Katie Greene is a sophomore mass communications major.

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