Thompson: A day I'll never forget

Associated PressAtlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. prepares for an at-bat during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals on July 30 in Washington.

One visit to Sun Trust Park turned into a day one father and son would never forget.

All fathers who love sports should have the opportunity to carry their child to one sporting event at some point in their lives. It’s a tradition that has been passed from one generation to another. Being a father of one girl and one boy, I’ve had the chance to carry them to high school football games. But none of those experiences compared to when me and my son, Tucker, attended an Atlanta Braves game this year.

We had been before but it was part of a church event that involved a bus full of people. Tucker was only 3 or 4 at the time so he wasn’t fully invested in the game as he was this year at age 6. 

Tucker wore his Ronald Acuna Jr. jersey to the game. After all, he is Tucker’s favorite player, though Freddie Freeman is a close second. 

It was a memorable day at the ballpark. The game was a Sunday night tilt with the Washington Nationals. Originally scheduled for an afternoon start, the game was moved to Sunday night so it could be broadcast on ESPN. With our seats right in front of the sun, I am thankful for that time change. 

It was a week before school started back so the Braves were giving away backpacks to the first bunch of kids to enter the stadium. Tucker’s face lit up like a Christmas tree when he realized he would be receiving this one of a kind item. 

His day only got better from there. We were one of the first groups to make it to our seats, which were located down the left line in foul territory. The Washington Nationals were concluding batting practice. As I tried to get the Nationals fielder’s attention in hopes of persuading him to throw us a ball, he was trying to get our attention as a ball came soaring our way off the bat of one of the Nationals players. It was only when the ball made a loud clanging noise as it sailed into a seat a few chairs away that that’s what he was pointing to. I quickly snagged the ball and gave it to Tucker, already his second souvenir and his day at the park was literally just minutes old.

The day only got better with a visit to the Hope and Will’s Sandlot, a portion of SunTrust Park that’s ideally suited for children. It features free carnival games during Sunday home games, a rock wall and zipline. Tucker would have stayed and played for hours if not the popcorn and pretzel he had to have in his souvenir Braves helmet, that doubled as a bowl.

As for the game itself, the Braves won 7-1. The only thing that would have made this day perfect was if we had stayed the entire game and seen Acuna belt one of his home runs. But when you’re dealing with a 6 year old, if he says he’s tired, then you call it a day. So it may not have been perfect but I’d say it was pretty great and one this father won’t soon forget.

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