Park # 71
What I Remember
I remember being wowed for the first, though not only time, by a minor league team. The Richmond Braves ballpark, known simply as The Diamond, was one of the crown jewels of minor league yards at the time. It never seemed like a very real possibility but the park was built with the idea that major league baseball could be played in it if the region was successful in luring a team. As such, the seating capacity was 12,000-plus and it could have been pretty easily expanded. It was and remains a vestige of old ballpark architecture, though, where the upper deck rose high above the field instead of back and away at a more gradual slope like most current stadiums. Never-the-less, in 1991 The Diamond was the state of the art.
The Richmond Braves rolled out the red carpet for us too. They had a fancy (and notably air-conditioned) restaurant at the club level and they gave us tickets to get whatever we wanted to eat. They also housed us at a nice hotel in downtown Richmond and loaded us down with lots of R’Braves memorabilia.
I don’t remember exactly how this transpired but I interviewed Tracy Woodson, the Braves third baseman that night, for my regular newspaper column. The focus of the story was on the life of a career minor leaguer, he was a real world Crash Davis, who had already been to “The Show” by the time I met him. Woodson was very cordial and interested in what we were doing and probably appreciated it more than most people. Although he played a total of 215 games over the course of a few seasons in the majors, Woodson spent far longer than that toiling in the minors. He played 12 seasons and over 1,300 games of minor league ball almost all of them at the Triple-A level. Woodson must have particularly liked Richmond, though. He has been the head baseball coach for the University of Richmond since 2013.
Columbus Clippers 13 Richmond Braves 6
I wasn’t able to find much of a game story about this one, although I am pretty sure we were in the local paper the next day. I have linked and embedded the video I did on this date last summer at the bottom of the page, though.
The Box: (Click on the arrows to see more images)
If you check out the scorecard you will might recognize the name of the Richmond Braves leadoff hitter, it was none other than Deion Sanders, who had yet to acquire the nickname Prime Time.