Hot ‘Lanta and Fulton County Stadium


As a Boston Braves fan, I never attended a Braves game at County Stadium in Milwaukee. The opportunity did not present itself, nor did the desire. By the time the Braves moved to Atlanta, there were no Boston Braves left on the team. A new beginning for me. The place to be was Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

The Braves transferred to Atlanta in 1966 and I attended my first game, or should I say two games, in late June of 1969 when the Braves faced off against the Dodgers at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium for a four game set. I skipped two games and Hank Aaron hit a home run in one of those missed games.

The Braves team of that season was becoming the winning machine that won numerous division titles and some names were familiar, especially Bob Tillman, a former member of the Red Sox. Aaron, Rico Carty and Felipe Alou are some other names that surface from the series. Don Sutton took the mound in the first game and intimidating Don Drysdale took the mound in the next game for the Dodgers, led by Walter Alston as manager.

What caught my immediate attention was the crowd or lack of a crowd. The Dodgers and Braves were virtually tied, yet the park appeared to be half full. Night game. Early summer. Great opponent. Just seemed strange. Found out that was standard and not unusual. Seems to have carried forward as I remember empty seats for playoff games.

Atlanta is an airport hub and has been for decades. Hartsfield-Jackson is the world’s busiest airport, but before it was built I would fly into an old military field, Chandler, which was continually being upgraded and was designated Atlanta Municipal Airport. So much for aviation history.

Atlanta became a frequent stop-over on business and often I would delay a day before catching the next flight. I was single and would make the newly built Underground Atlanta a ritual and maybe catch a game.

Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was pure cookie cutter. There was nothing exotic with the quaintly named “Launching Pad,” for the way the baseball flew out of the yard, since it was equidistant down the lines and in the power alleys with a tantalizing 402’ to center field.

Low fences all around and nothing to distinguish the park from any other of its brethren of that period. The sight lines were excellent since, as mentioned, this was the next generation of muti-purpose stadiums that became so popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Most have, thankfully, been destroyed. Good bye to architectural blight.

I recall attending about ten games at Atlanta Stadium with nothing of note happening and the great disappointment of not seeing a Hank Aaron Home run. I managed to finally see “Bad Henry” notch number 707 at Jarry Park in Montreal in 1973.

Staying downtown, the park was within easy walking distance, at least for me, since I enjoy walking about. The area was a central meeting point for a spaghetti type highway system that continues to confuse me and I have seen that expand through the years, so today, as back then, you can eventually get to the ballpark.

The ballpark is now a parking lot with a baseball diamond emblazoned upon it. Turner Field was build adjacent to it for the Olympics, the Braves then moved in and now that park is heading on a mysterious path to non-use.

Look for Sean Sylver to discuss leaving Turner Field behind.