October 30, 2021
So, I was in Atlanta last week to visit a friend and watch a little baseball.
Phil is a lifelong Braves fan and a good bit younger than me. 1999, to him, is a long time ago. That’s when the Braves last played in a World Series.
Now Atlanta isn’t Boston, Philadelphia or Western New York for that matter. The energy we expend rooting for our sports teams is at a much higher level. For many reasons. None of which really matter here. That became clear when we found ourselves out at a local establishment with other like-minded people, when Atlanta beat the National League’s version of the Evil Empire, the Los Angeles Dodgers, to return to the World Series for the first time in 22 years.
Some background here. Phil grew up a Braves fan and watched games with his dad. On this night, the younger man wore a tee shirt with a reproduction of the front page of the Atlanta Constitution, depicting the Braves winning a division title in 1991. It was his father’s shirt.
‘He’d have liked this,’ Phil told me. ‘He’d have liked this team.’
Phillip Anthony Tapley, Sr., died four years ago. The night the Braves won their way back into the World Series would have been his 72nd birthday. The son’s first call from the bar was to his mom. They talked about dad.
Now there isn’t anything particularly unusual about this. It’s a heartwarming melodrama that gets played out all the time. But it is another reminder that sports really matter to people, on a very real and personal basis. And it’s one of the major reasons they continue to endure.