Inciarte: ‘Just a special night I’m going to … remember always’
It’s Opening Day at SunTrust Park. Thirty-one months after the ground-breaking ceremony on this site, the stadium is ready for its first Braves regular-season game. We’ll be posting updates here throughout the afternoon, evening and night about what’s happening at the sold-out ballpark. Please check back often.
So let’s recap Ender Inciarte’s night: He collected SunTrust Park’s first putout, got its first hit, scored its first run and hit its first home run. “It’s just a special night, not only for me but for the team,” the Braves’ center fielder said after the game. “Just a special night I’m going to be able to remember for always.”
Braves manager Brian Snitker called the ballpark’s debut “very well orchestrated and a really cool evening.”
The Braves are 1-0 in regular-season play at SunTrust Park. They defeated San Diego 5-2. Julio Teheran got the first win in the ballpark. Jim Johnson recorded the first save.
The Braves announced the official attendance for the sold-out opening game: 41,149.
SunTrust Park just got its first home run: a two-run shot to right field by Inciarte on a 3-1 count in the sixth inning. Fireworks went off beyond left field. The water cannons went off beyond center field. The home run was Inciarte’s third in two games, matching his homer total of all of last season and upping the Braves’ lead to 5-2.
Hammer won the first Tool Race in SunTrust Park history. “When Hank Aaron is in the building, you let the hammer win,” Phil the Bucket tweeted.
The Braves regained the lead, 3-2, in the fourth inning when a two-out infield single by pitcher Julio Teheran allowed Tyler Flowers to score (with the help of a bad throw to first).
The Braves’ 2-0 lead didn’t last long. The Padres tied it in the second inning.
First run scored in SunTrust Park: Inciarte from third base with one out in the first inning on a double to deep right field by Nick Markakis, who got the ballpark’s first (and second) RBIs. Freddie Freeman also scored from second base on the double, giving the Braves a 2-0 lead over the Padres after one inning.
First extra-base hit in SunTrust Park: Freeman’s double to left-center with one out in the first inning.
First hit in SunTrust Park: an infield single by Inciarte leading off the bottom of the first inning.
Bobby Cox just started the tomahawk chop at the new ballpark. In a new feature this season, the Braves will appoint someone to lead the chop before the team comes to bat in the bottom of the first inning at each game. Cox did the honors for the opener from the Chop House beyond right field. The crowd joined in with the red foam tomahawks that the Braves placed at each seat before the game.
First baserunner at SunTrust Park: the Padres’ Travis Jankowski, who drew a one-out walk in the first inning.
Teheran delivered the first pitch in SunTrust Park history. On that pitch, the Padres’ Manuel Margot flew out to Inciarte in center field.
After the national anthem performed by Georgia native Phillip Phillips and a ceremonial flyover by the U.S. Navy, it’s about time to play ball at SunTrust Park.
Hank Aaron, welcomed to the new stadium with a huge ovation, just threw the ceremonial first pitch to Bobby Cox.
Braves Vice Chairman John Schuerholz told the crowd that the team wanted to build the stadium “for each and every one of you.”
The Braves just unveiled the team’s retired jersey numbers on the facing of the upper deck in left field — Dale Murphy’s No. 3, Cox’s No. 6, Chipper Jones’ No. 10, Warren Spahn’s No. 21, John Smoltz’s No. 29, Greg Maddux’s No. 31, Phil Niekro’s No. 35, Eddie Mathews’ No. 41, Tom Glavine’s No. 47 and Hank Aaron’s No. 44. (The Braves will unveil Jackie Robinson’s retired No. 42 on Saturday.)
Team executives presented Cobb County officials with Braves jerseys.
The seats are at least two-thirds filled, maybe more, for the start of the ballpark’s opening ceremonies. “Welcome home to SunTrust Park,” the P.A. announcer says.
for what John Smoltz had to say about his first visit to SunTrust Park.
The ballpark’s opening ceremonies will begin in 10 minutes. Stay tuned.
The AJC has live updates on traffic to SunTrust Park
There’s a lot of exploration going on inside SunTrust Park. Fans are strolling around the (crowded) concourses, checking out stadium features and getting their bearings.
The Braves have delayed the start of the game 15 minutes — to 7:50 p.m. — to accommodate pre-game ceremonies opening the stadium.
In the house: Greg Maffei, CEO of Braves owner Liberty Media. Maffei was on the field before the game with Braves Chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk, Braves Vice Chairman John Schuerholz and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.
Speaking to reporters in the Braves’ dugout, Manfred said: “The ballpark itself is beautiful, but I really think the scope of the project is a model for baseball.”
for more of Manfred’s comments.
The Braves are taking batting practice as early-arriving fans trickle into the stands, three hours before game time. Outside the stadium in The Battery Atlanta, things are buzzing.
The Braves plan to debut tonight what they hope to make a new fan tradition at the ballpark: the Braves Walk. To signal that game time is approaching, team celebrities will parade through the heart of The Battery Atlanta to the plaza just outside the stadium gates for a “chop rally.” Tonight, Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones, Dale Murphy, Phil Niekro and John Smoltz will participate, starting at 6:15.
Braves vice president of marketing Adam Zimmerman said he thinks the walk will resonate with fans, particularly those who are accustomed to somewhat similar events with their favorite college-football team. He said he “wouldn’t rule out” the possibility of some current players participating over the course of the season.
During pre-game ceremonies on the field, the Braves plan to “welcome home” their greatest player, Aaron, and other stars of the franchise’s Atlanta history, including Glavine, Jones, Murphy, Niekro and Smoltz.
Red foam tomahawks have been placed at each of the 41,149 seats, awaiting the arrival of fans. A crowd of around 44,000 is expected, including those with standing-room-only tickets.