I recently paid a visit to Turner Field to watch the Atlanta Braves face the Cincinnati Reds. I hadn't been in a couple of years, perhaps Bobby Cox's last season as manager. It was a great evening for a baseball game, warm with little or no humidity, and there was a great crowd on hand. By the time my wife Shelia and I had returned to our hotel room, we had spent close to $250. Two hundred and fifty dollars for tickets, a piece of pizza, one coke, one beer, one sandwich, two cups of ice cream, and Marta tickets to get to the stadium. My, how things have changed since my dad and I would drive from Nashville to Atlanta to see the Braves play in 1966; their first season in Atlanta.
The Braves had Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews and even Warren Spahn that first year in the south. We saw Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson and many other Hall of Famers play in those first few seasons. We would try to go 1-2 times annually, and that trip, which would take 6-7 hours from Nashville was always a highlite of my year. And yes, we complained about the high price of concession food back then too.
On our 2013 visit, after going through the gate, heading to our seats, I noticed a small stand that was selling a "Lickity" sandwich. "Lickity" certainly sounded good, so as I passed by I looked at one. It wasn't really that big, though they did give you a lot of fries. I wondered why there was such a small crowd at the stand waiting to buy a "Lickity" sandwich. I found out why, very quickly when I returned in the third inning to buy one; a "Lickity" sandwich cost $15.00. The most expensive sandwich I had ever seen in my life was something that I just had to try. So, I did. I bought a "Lickity" sandwich and to wash it down I purchased a $10 can of beer. Though it wasn't as large as you might think a $15 sandwich would be, it did look good. After a couple of bites, I suddenly became very disappointed. It tasted like old corned beef, between two pieces of heavily buttered cardboard. "You paid fifteen dollars for that?" Shelia asked as I tried to swallow a big bite.
She had paid $15 for a piece of cheese pizza and a large coke, but I had been the one to buy a "Lickity" sandwich. I ate the whole thing, telling my wife, "If I pay $15 for a sandwich, I'm going to eat it, no matter how bad it is."
We had great seats right behind the Braves' dugout, but the first few innings it was hard to watch the game for the waitresses and waiters, taking and delivering orders to people who were seated in front of us. This was something very new to me, yet unlike the "Lickity" sandwich, it was something I did not desire to take part in.
Later in the seventh inning, we each had a $5 cup of Mayfield's Ice cream. At the grocery store, we could have each bought a half-gallon of Mayfield's for $10. We went to our seats and watched the Braves pull out a 5-4 win as Freddie Freeman had a pair of hits and drove in three runs.
Altogether, it was a fun evening, though it proved to be an expensive evening as well. We saw several families there with two-three children, and wondered if they had spent $400-$500 at Turner Field. With the kids making a trip to the concession stands every other inning, they had to spend a lot more than Shelia and I did. Going to a Major League Baseball game is expensive and it appears to be an activity that a lot of people can't afford to be involved in. Major League Baseball needs to do more to become more "fan-friendly", and they can start by outlawing the "Lickity" sandwich.
The college football season is now only a month away, and later this week, I'll preview the SEC East, then the SEC West.
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).