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A case of baseball guilt

    You may find this hard to believe, but I was there.
    I was there for one of the greatest World Series games in the history of baseball. But what I remember about that night is very little.
    Game 6 of the 1991 World Series pitted two teams that were never supposed to be there in the first place — the Atlanta Braves and the Minnesota Twins. It was the “worst to first” Series.
    Somehow, the mother of one of my pee-wee football teammates — his name was Corley — scored four tickets to that classic game. At the risk of making some of our more aged readers feel a little older, here I was, just eight years old, heading to Minnesota with my mother, Corley and his mom.
    I don’t remember driving over to Corley’s house, I don’t remember the drive to the airport and I don’t remember boarding the flight.
    What I do remember is a very crowded and excited plane full of people. I was given a window seat, and remember tugging on mom’s shirt to let her know the man in front of me was smoking two cigarettes at once. All I could see was his shaky left arm on the armrest, holding two sticks, one between the index and middle finger and one between the middle and ring finger.
    I remember getting off the plane directly onto the runway by one of those staircases that rolls right up to the plane door. That was pretty cool. I also remember it was cold — very cold.
    I don’t remember going into the stadium, the concourses, the crowds — but I do remember our seats were in deep right field above that big blue baggy in the Metrodome. I remember Corley and I did quite a bit of dancing to the music playing over the P.A.
    I remember at one point the crowd roared and I looked up and saw someone jump and catch a ball against a big glass-looking wall. Then I remember another loud noise, looking up and seeing a ball fly over the left-field fence, looking back and seeing someone trot around first base.
    I don’t remember leaving Minneapolis, or the plane ride home. I don’t remember the car ride back to Corley’s house.
    I do remember looking out the car window on the way back to our house and realizing how late it was. We were the only car on the road — in metro Atlanta.
    Sixteen years later the Braves are back in Minnesota this week for the first time since what is considered one of the most exciting Series of our time. And I can’t help but feeling a sense of baseball guilt.
    As I grew older I learned that “catch against a big glass-looking wall” was Kirby Puckett, robbing Ron Gant of extra bases in the top of the third. That “other loud noise” was Puckett’s game-winning homer off Charlie Leibrandt in the bottom of the 11th. It gave the Twins a chance at a Game 7 and they would eventually put the Braves away the next night.
    I wasn’t old enough to understand any of it.
    Now, we can’t even find the program we bought from the game that night. The ticket stubs are all but lost. All I have left is the head of a faded tomahawk that I think they gave us on the plane.
    I don’t know if I’ll ever be present for such a meaningful sporting event for the rest of my life. All I have now is the man with two cigarettes, the view from high atop right field, and a man jumping in front of wall, to make a catch, to the roar of the crowd.

    Chad Bishop can be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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