It’s been known for more than two years that the Braves are finished with Turner Field after this weekend. But Matt Diaz, a Braves outfielder from 2006-2012, said it wasn’t until recently that it started sinking in that the team’s days at The Ted are coming to an end.
Once that reality settled in, Diaz said he’s felt unexpectedly “melancholy” about the franchise leaving its home since 1997. The Braves will play at SunTrust Park in southeastern Cobb County beginning next season.
“My wife and I were talking about it the other day,” Diaz said. “Surprisingly, I’ve been emotional about it.”
Braves players present and past and the team’s fans will get to say goodbye to the ballpark when the Braves play their final game Sunday at Turner Field. Gates open at 12:10 p.m. with the first pitch against the Tigers scheduled for 3:10.
There are plenty of celebrations planned for the team’s 20-year stay at the Olympic Stadium-turned-ballpark. Seats for the game are sold out, though as of Friday the Braves were selling standing-room only tickets for $20 that allow fans to stand in designated areas.
Prior to the game several Braves alumni will take the field to revel in two decades of players at Turner Field and throw out a ceremonial first pitch. After the game the Braves plan a ceremonial final pitch, the transfer of home plate to SunTrust Park and a presentation featuring Braves VIPs.
All fans through the games will receive a commemorative final game ticket with a lanyard and a Turner Field poster. During the game, the team is offering free admission to the Braves Museum and free games in Scout’s Alley.
The Braves didn’t announce which ex-players would be in attendance.
Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine, a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner with the Braves, will be part of the Fox Sports South coverage of Turner Field’s final day. Like Diaz, he said until recently he didn’t’ think much about the day.
“I’ll certainly miss it,” Glavine said. “I’m excited about the new ballpark and all, but in the new ballpark I’ll walk in not having had any history with the place. With Turner, I played there. I’ve got memories there. I see my number retired there — not that it won’t be the case at new ballpark, but it will be different walking into it with no personal history.
“Once that last game comes at Turner, that’s not where the Braves play anymore.”
Turner Field was Diaz’s first home park as an established big-league player. He had short stays with the Rays and Royals early in his career before Kansas City traded him to the Braves after the 2005 season.
Diaz said his memories include the team’s family days with his wife and three children. He said he expects to be emotional on Sunday when he covers the day as part of the Fox Sports South crew.
“I will try to hold it together on air,” Diaz said. “Hopefully I’ve shed my last tear about it. Personally, in my life, it will always hold a special, meaningful place in my heart.”