"IT'S NEVER OVER 'TIL IT'S
Growing up in Dayton, Ohio I was always a Reds fan. I was at Pete Rose's
"4,192" game when I was only five years old. The electric crowd at
Riverfront Stadium that night is one of my earliest memories. I was ten when
the Reds won their last World Series. I can recall being allowed to stay up
late to watch the games and a sensation of victory I have yet to experience
again. I learned many things about the game from following my favorite team,
but not everything. Much of my baseball mentality was instilled by Atlanta
My uncle Tom lived in Woodstock, Georgia and despite the distance between
us, we were always close. He was an Atlanta Braves season ticket holder. My
grandfather also lived in Woodstock and was a constant companion to my uncle
Tom as they rooted for their Braves. I can remember Tom flaunting his new
"gear" that the Braves' organization would send him for being such a loyal
patron. Knowing my admiration for a team up north, and my aversion to his,
he would always make sure I saw his newest attire. I would roll my eyes.
Throughout the nineties the Atlanta Braves were constant contenders. My
grandfather and Tom never failed to bring it to my attention. At least once
a season Tom would visit my family and I in Ohio and we would all head down
to Riverfront Stadium. Most of the time, the stay would suspiciously
coincide with the Braves being in town. During the game, Tom would spend
most of the time attempting to get me to participate in the "tomahawk chop"
without avail. Tom could get my ambivalent cousins from Tennessee to join
in, and even my susceptible little sister, but not me. No way, no how.
It seemed like the Braves beat the Reds every time Tom was at Riverfront
Stadium. If there was a Reds victory, I fail to remember it. Tom would
always be the loudest guy in our section full of Reds fans. People would
look behind them wondering what in the hell Tom was doing there. I also
asked myself that question as I would bitterly cross my arms. In the heat of
the moment there wasn't a more tried-and-true Braves fan than Tom.
No matter what the situation or score, Tom would never leave the game. He
would always remind us that there were nine innings and "it's never over
'til it's over" giving us hope that the Reds would somehow come back. Then
he would start doing the damn "tomahawk chop" again. Tom would continue his
banter after the game on the way out of Riverfront Stadium. It was
Tom would always notice my frustration after the game. He would reassure me
that the Reds were a good team and that they might take one from the Braves
next time. Always emphasizing that the Braves were the better team, Tom
would explain the the lack of importance one game had on such a long season.
He would commend my perseverance when it came to the "tomahawk chop" and
would always graciously tell me that the Reds would turn it around. Tom
passed away in October of 1997.
Throughout high school my ailing grandfather spent time living with my
family in Dayton. On many occasions, I would burst out of my bedroom after
hearing screaming only to find him yelling at the Braves on television.
Whether it was Chipper Jones making an error or John Smoltz giving up a
homer, his voice would echo through the house with disgust. After Braves
wins he would always make sure I heard the score knowing that my Reds had
lost that day. He would always want to tell me how good Greg Maddux is or
what David Justice did that day. I never wanted to know, but would always
listen. When I would mention the Reds, he would pretend to care too.
My grandfather passed away in May of 2001. When he died, my mother brought
me two things of his that she thought I would want to have. It was a Braves
shirt and hat that he often wore. To this day I have never accepted those
two pieces of my grandfather's wardrobe. My mother finds it hard to
understand, but I know that he would.
Tom and my grandfather taught me about loyalty. They taught me about
integrity, respect, and through their actions showed me how to enjoy success
As I heard a crowd of Braves fans chanting behind Marty Brennaman's voice
during Thursday's loss, Tom and my grandfather appeared in my head as they
always do. I imagined Tom joining in on the "tomahawk chop" during the
Brave's ninth inning comeback and could hear my grandfather's joyful screams
when Brooks Conrad hit a walk-off grand slam. Wherever they are, I know one
thing for sure; they were ecstatic.
Cincy sustain it's success?
inning nightmare: by the numbers
wants more Dragon steals
Braves 10, Reds 9
sign Cuban FA
loss for Reds