JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - “Randomly enough, five bucks in third grade made me a Braves fan for life.”
Douglass Pipkin won a $5 bet with his teacher on a baseball game back then, which he says is a great memory.
And even as an adult who attends around 15 Mississippi Braves games a season, he’s still building baseball memories.
He and so many other M-Braves fans are hoping that the talks ongoing between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball that could eliminate around 40 minor league teams in 2021 won’t send the home team packing.
“Dansby Swanson, Sean Newcomb and Ozzie Albies, I think it was three years ago all three of them were all here at the same time and it was a big game," Pipkin said. "Sean Newcomb pitched I think a one hitter or something, and those are my three favorite players I’ve seen come through here.”
Joanne Culin is another M-Braves fan who goes to the games to unwind. Sometimes she goes with a coworker and it’s a good way to unwind and talk about the office without actually being at the office, she said.
But she notes it’s also just a good way for families to spend a day.
“A lot of families come out and it’s a great family atmosphere, it’s our only professional sport in the metro area, and it’s great even for younger kids to come out and if they’re interested in any kind of sport just to see what they can aspire to be,” she said.
About a year ago, Pipkin started his own business and he’s doing pretty well. Having a local baseball team gives him a different way to host clients than a routine dinner or meeting to talk business.
“It’s not so stuffy," he said. "You can just kind of sit around and casually talk business in a casual environment and still be outdoors and able to treat a potential client to something fun to do.”
We contacted M-Braves General Manager Pete Laven to find out what’s known so far about whether the Mississippi team would be affected. He referred us to Jeff Lantz at Minor League Baseball.
When we didn’t get an immediate response from them, we contacted the Atlanta Braves where we left two unanswered messages for media relations employees.
According to national media reports, the considerations involve meeting a standard for minor league baseball stadiums, as well as geographic factors dealing with who they play and who their major league team is. Without any official comment, it does appear the M-Braves will safely make it through the cut if there is one.
So while the future may or may not be uncertain for the Braves, fans like Pipkin hope to root, root root for the home team well into the future, as long as agreements and talks don’t mess up and send them away.
“I’d be really disappointed, again 10-15 times a year I like to sit out here and eat popcorn and hot dogs and sing the 7th inning stretch song," he said. "It would just be a real disappointment.”