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Chipper mulches (seizes) the day (evening) at ESPN's Champion Stadium

© by Mike Keenan
 

Tonight we attend a spring training baseball game between the Atlanta Braves of the National League and the Detroit Tigers of the American League at Disney's Lake Buena Vista complex. We follow road signs to the Magic Kingdom/Wide World of Sports arriving at Champion Stadium. Next door, there's the Milk House (an indoor arena used for AAU events), and close by, tennis courts, a track-and-field complex, youth and adult baseball and softball fields, and other athletic fields.
     The stadium is one of the more plush venues for spring training, also one of the largest with 9,500 seats (80 percent between the first and third bases). Tonight, it's packed with many fans sitting casually on the grass behind left field. We enjoy great seats thanks to Tony Morreale, Director of Walt Disney World Public Relations.
     Located a few rows up on the first base side opposite the pitcher, we watch the Brave's all-star, Chipper Jones, launch a bases-loaded homerun in the bottom of the first inning, and from then on, Atlanta cruises to any easy victory. I'm ecstatic, taking tight shots of pitchers and batters without need of a tele-converter lens. My 200mm Nikon is just fine thanks! Chipper is an odd name for baseball. Seems more appropriate for someone engaged with twigs, branches and tree limbs. Nonetheless, this Chipper is eventually headed to Cooperstown NY and the Hall of Fame when he retires.
 
  CHAMPION STADIUM
700 S. Victory Lane,
Lake Buena Vista, Disney World

Stadium Box Office:
(407) 839-3900, 800-745-3000
TicketMaster: (407) 839-3900

Lake Buena Vista is located in the southwest corner of Orlando. Take I-4 to Hwy. 192 West and follow signs to Magic Kingdom/Wide World of Sports, right onto Victory Way. (Directions at Disney World are clear and plentiful. Follow the signs to Wide World of Sports.)

 
     And then there is spring training and the American national pastime, baseball. I never tire of watching the continuous duel between pitcher and batter in a pastoral setting with each pitch and count determining a different strategy. When I was younger, I pitched hardball and caught fastball. I have developed an appreciation for the skills of the game, and with my camera, it's fun to anticipate outcomes particularly where the ball might go; will there be a play at home; a steal by a base runner; etc., etc.
     Baseball is deceptively fluid with percentages riding on every play. Everyone can act as coach and everyone can boo the ump. Booing the ump might just be cathartic, allowing us to jettison excess stress. Stress seems to dissolve here in Florida, and that's why so many Canadians aka snow birds, like to call it our second home.

Action At The Plate  Atlanta Braves Pitcher  Atlanta Braves - Uggla  Chipper Hits A Grand Slam Homer  Detroit Tigers - Inge  Keeping Score

Left Field Loungers  Lots Of Fans  Home Plate Collision Stadium Entrance  Young Fan

Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.

Photo Credits
Mike Keenan

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Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champion_Stadium
About.com: http://goflorida.about.com/od/eventsfestivals/ss/Florida-Grapefruit-League-Spring-Training.htm
Churches & Synagogues: http://fl.allpages.com/kissimmee/community-services/religious-organizations/
Atlanta Braves: http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=atl
Detroit Tigers: http://detroit.tigers.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=det
ESPN Wide World of Sports: http://espnwwos.disney.go.com/

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