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Chance encounter with Costner tops Braves trip

By Staff
Lindsay Vaught, Guest Columnist
ATLANTA – Some of you may remember a column I wrote back in March in which I mentioned a baseball movie starring Kevin Costner. Little did I realize I would meet the guy at a baseball game this summer.
Last Wednesday night at Turner Field, Costner ambled into the press area after spending a couple of innings in the radio booth with Pete VanWieren and Skip Carey. I was in the press box and ran right into him in the hallway as he stopped to take a picture with a Braves staffer.
The guy is impressive in person, taller than I imagined, and a big baseball fan. Surprisingly Costner never played organized baseball after high school, but has always been a great athlete. Golf and skiing are his sports of choice.
As for the game, the Braves mounted a ninth inning comeback against the Marlins only to lose it in twelve innings.
Costner, 48, has starred in three baseball movies. His latest was 'For Love of The Game' in 1999 in which he played an aging pitcher forced to choose between a woman and the game he loves. In the end he gets them both and pitches a perfect game to boot. He left early on this night. After all, he's from Los Angeles. What would you expect, him to stay for all 12 innings? If he had Bobby Cox might have used him to pitch the top of the twelfth when Mike Mordecai hit a homerun that won the game.
Speaking of Skip Caray, he had a great line in Monday night's game. After Sammy Sosa hit his 23rd home run of the season, Caray said "Sosa really corked that one to center".
My trip started out with a bang on Tuesday when a line of thunderstorms rolled across Atlanta. An hour before game time, though, the skies cleared enough for a friend and I to head to Turner Field for the Cubs game. After meeting at the Starbucks on Peachtree we hoofed it to the Five Points MARTA station, a brisk 10 minute walk. There, along with hundreds of fans, we boarded buses that deposited us at the front gates of Turner Field. The Braves shuttle is free and the best way to go to a game.
Scrounging for tickets in the plaza, which features a huge bronze statue of Hank Aaron, we decide to get the two for Tuesday deal where you can get two tickets in the far reaches of the upper level for the price of one. Quite a deal until I sat through six innings surrounded by hundreds of teenagers from Colorado wearing tie-dye green T-shirts.
The Braves pounded rookie pitcher Sergio Mitre who was called up from Double A to pitch for Mark Prior who went on the disabled list. Greg Maddux picked up the win and is coming around to his usual reliable all-star form.
As for the Braves, they now have the best record in baseball, lead the majors in home- runs, have the NL's top pitcher in Russ Ortiz with 14 wins, and own the biggest lead of any division.
Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell was the subject of trade rumors earlier this season. He's currently second in the NL in homers and would be an interesting subject for a baseball movie. Four years ago he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
Recently he experienced pain in the groin and missed several games. Everyone feared the worst. It turned out to be a benign lesion on the hip-bone and he was back in the lineup last week.
Oh yea, he and his wife just had a baby girl about six months ago.
Sounds like a good role for Costner.