In 2014, I resolve to visit all four Georgia @MiLB teams: @GreenJackets, @GwinnettBraves, @TheRomeBraves, and @gnatsbaseball. #PlayBall— Steven Ericson (@geoSteven) January 1, 2014
I failed miserably because I only visited the Gwinnett Braves last year (read more here). Wanting to avoid a repeat, I did not make that resolution this year. However, this summer I finally fulfilled my goals and saw all four of Georgia's Minor League Baseball teams in a single summer.
After visiting Gwinnett, Augusta (read more here), and Savannah (read more here), I only had Rome left to visit to complete my goal. So I decided to take a day trip from my family's house in Marietta up to Rome to explore the city, but most importantly to watch the Rome Braves play.
After a hot and humid day I saw the main entrance to State Mutual Stadium...
Across from the main entrance was the Redneck Rummage Sale trailer, which earned the 2014 Best Between-Inning On-Field Attraction Bizzie from MiLB.com's Ben Hill (read more here).
|The Redneck Rummage Sale trailer in the parking lot.|
But I didn't come to the stadium to ogle at a trailer in the parking lot. I came to the game to explore the stadium and watch a baseball game.
Around the concourse there are pillars that the Braves utilize to display an exhibit about baseball in northwest Georgia and Rome. The exhibit was created by Heather S. Shores, who worked at the Bandy Heritage Center for Northwest Georgia. Her research was published in the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) journal The National Pastime (read more here).
|Exhibit detailing the history of baseball in northwest Georgia.|
|Exhibit detailing the industrial-based Northwest Georgia Textile League.|
|Exhibit displaying notable photographs of baseball in northwest Georgia.|
While exploring the concourse I found the South Atlantic League standings as the league had just started its second half the night before.
|South Atlantic League standings entering play on June 26, 2015.|
While I did not ask for assistance, I was unable to locate the lineups posted on the concourse. However, I did find an interesting piece of Rome Braves history hanging over the concourse.
|Championship flag honoring the Braves' first title since moving to Rome.|
After exploring the concourse and seeking input about my food choices for the evening I decided to take my seat behind home plate and catch the beginning of the game before making my dinner selection. So sitting comfortably behind home I was easily able to get my standard photo of the first pitch.
|Rome Braves starting pitcher Zach Quintana delivering the first pitch|
to Augusta GreenJackets center fielder Johneshwy Fargas.
I moved down each base line to get a few more action shots, and to get pictures of other parts of the ballpark. Moving down the third base line I got a closeup shot of Quintana pitching and the Suzuki Showcase in right field.
|Rome Braves starting pitcher Zach Quintana with a view of right field in the background.|
When I walked around to the first base line I got a picture of Miller Lite Marina that sits in foul territory along the third base line. The Miller Lite Marina has a few craft beers, but there is a standalone stand nearby that has a much wider selection of craft beers. The beer selection was OK, but I was especially surprised they did not carry any beers from the nearby Blue Ridge Brewery and instead carried selections from Florida and Chattanooga Brewing Company just up the road in Tennessee.
|Rome Braves first baseman Matt Tellor at the plate with the Miller Lite Marina in the background.|
Finally after watching a few innings of play I decided to find something to eat. When I checked out the concession stands before the start of the game I saw all the usual suspects like hot dogs, pizza, chicken tenders, and hamburgers. There was also a Chick-fil-A stand, but in Georgia that's not unique. Where I finally found some unique food items was down the right field line at Bubba's BBQ Barn.
|Down the right field line Bubba's BBQ Barn has the most unique food items at State Mutual Stadium.|
At Bubba's BBQ Barn fans can order the standard barbecue items, but also unique items like a fried bologna sandwich or the kitchen sink nachos shown below...
|Kitchen sink nachos come served in a pizza box and include chips, barbecue pork or chicken, and the usual nacho toppings.|
While the kitchen sink nachos looked delicious I was not nearly hungry enough to consume them. Instead I opted for the BBQ sundae, which is a piece of cornbread topped by coleslaw, BBQ pork or chicken, and topped by another piece of cornbread. The BBQ sundae had been featured in MiLB.com's 2013 Food Fight, which pitted unique food items against each other.
|My BBQ sundae.|
The BBQ sundae lived up to expectations. It was filling and a great mix of flavors, but I wish the top piece of cornbread had been topped with honey or perhaps BBQ sauce.
After finishing the BBQ sundae and returning to my seat I got a few more photos. I wanted to be sure to get a photo of the scoreboard.
|The scoreboard in left field.|
In addition to the scoreboard I wanted to be sure to get a photo of Ozhaino "Ozzie" Albies, who entered the 2015 season as one of the Atlanta Braves top prospects. According to MLB.com he is currently ranked as the fifth-best prospect (read more here) in the Braves' farm system. He was also selected to play in the 2015 Futures Game, and USA Today Sports named him one of the top players to watch in that game (read more here).
|Rome Braves shortstop Ozzie Albies in the batter's box.|
After taking those two pictures I was content to watch the rest of the game, but quickly got up when the mascot Romey came by.
|Me with Romey late in the game.|
After giving up a first inning run to Augusta, Rome tied the game in the fifth inning. However, the game was still tied after the completion of nine innings so the game headed to extra innings. The GreenJackets took a 2-1 lead off Aramis Garcia's RBI-double in the 10th, but the Braves tied it in the bottom of the frame when GreenJackets reliever walked Braxton Davidson. A Wigberto Nevarez sacrifice fly brought home Omar Obregon to give Rome a 3-2 win.
|It's always good when the home team wins.|
The day ended with the Braves celebrating a win and me fulfilling a New Year's resolution a year late. Although I grew up in Georgia, it was odd to see that all the unique food items were connected to BBQ, which isn't particularly a food the state is known for producing. However, the BBQ sundae was tasty, and the kitchen sink nachos looked delicious. The craft beer selection needs to be improved, especially as that market has grown in the state over the past few years. Overall, I had a great experience at the ballpark and would definitely return for more games.