August 2014


IMG_0651Four summers ago, on a sticky night in August, my wife and I and our seven-month-old son went to the Braves–Mets game at Turner Field. We live close enough to the Ted that we can go to a game on a whim (until the team decamps to Cobb, that is). We usually request the cheapest seats at the window. Inside the gates, we tend to do what I imagine a lot of fans do on a night when the stadium is half empty: We ignore the seat numbers on our tickets and look for a section with not many people in it.

Which is how we ended up toward the back of section 116L, behind the visiting team’s dugout. You’re close to the action here. Above is a shot of Casey from that night. Note that his back is to home plate, and a Met is batting.

Precisely twenty-five minutes later (I know this from the time stamp on my phone and from watching the telecast afterward), about ten rows in front of us, a line drive foul ball hit a six-year-old girl in the head. The game kept going, but in the stands there was a commotion—yelling, pointing, gasping—and a few seconds later an usher was leading a man up the stairs past us, the little girl in his arms. Her face was white as chalk. She was bleeding. I still remember the look in her father’s eyes.

My wife and I wanted to know how she was. The next day I emailed the AJC reporter who covers the Braves. No response. I asked the Braves. They told me nothing, citing confidentiality. Nothing in the paper. Nothing on TV. It was like it never happened.

But it did, and when my wife (who’s also a reporter) and I saw a couple of years later that the girl’s father was suing the Braves, we wanted to talk to him. Earlier this year there was another story—this one in the Fulton Daily Report, about the procedural questions that have arisen from Fred Fletcher’s lawsuit. Fletcher’s argument is a simple one: that the Braves could and should extend the netting to protect fans in these exposed seats. But as with any legal case, it gets complicated.

Several weeks ago, Fletcher agreed to meet with my wife. Christine’s story, Foul Territory, is equal parts illuminating and terrifying. Suffice it to say, when Casey and I go to games now, we sit just where our tickets tell us to: a long way away.