GreenJackets' fans come for atmosphere

Time to enjoy some baseball

James Butler enjoys baseball, but that's not why he bought season tickets.

"It's the atmosphere," Butler explained Friday afternoon.

Butler, who sat behind home plate with his wife and children, was among the early crowd at Lake Olmstead Stadium before the opening home game of the GreenJackets' season.

An hour before the first pitch, the setting sun cast bright light on the field. Ushers helped the trickle of fans find their seats. Music thumped loudly.

Mel Rourk, of Grovetown, has been coming to baseball games in Augusta since the stadium had wooden seats. Her husband of two years, Randy Rourk, has been coming just about as long.

"I love the game; I love the GreenJackets," Mel Rourk said.

Stephen and Krystle Harden enjoy sports in general, but, like Butler, they come for the atmosphere. About 45 minutes before the first pitch, their daughter Mackenzie, 5, had space to climb over the bleachers and burn some energy before the game.

The Hardens are Braves fans but like attending GreenJackets games better.

"It's cheaper and closer to home," Krystle Harden said.

By 7 p.m., the bleachers' shadow had reached the outfield. Players stretched and sprinted. Women in green shirts and khaki shorts weaved through the growing crowd carrying trays loaded with cold beer and french fries.

In the bullpen, a pitcher wound up and released a white blur that smacked into the catcher's glove with a loud crack.

"I'd hate to take that in the face," Lee Mauldin, 12, said to his friend, Joel Myes, 11.

Lee plays for his home-school team, the Crusaders. Joel likes pickup games.

A hush falls over the crowd before The Star-Spangled Banner is played. Cheers greet the last cymbal clash.

The GreenJackets take the field, and the first batter for the Charleston RiverDogs comes to the plate.

Strike one!

The crowd cheers.

SEE PHOTOS

See galleries of photos from Friday's GreenJackets' home opener at spotted.augusta.com.

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