ATLANTA – Centennial Olympic Stadium opened in July 1996 and was an 85,000-seat venue built as the centerpiece 1996 Olympics, which took place in Atlanta, Georgia. The opening ceremony, track and field competition and the closing ceremony were held at the venue. The Paralympics also took place at Centennial Olympic Stadium before it was repurposed.
Centennial Olympic Stadium then became Turner Field, the home of the Atlanta Braves, after the two competitions. The first-ever baseball came at Turner Field, and exhibition game, was played on March 29, 1997 between the Braves and the New York Yankees. The first ever pitch thrown at Turner Field was hurled by Braves Hall of Famer Tom Glavine, a strike, to a future Hall of Famer, Derek Jeter. The Braves were victorious, 2-0. The first regular season game at Turner Field took place on April 4, 1997, also a win for the Braves over the Chicago Cubs, 5-4.
The Braves would be arguably the most dominant team in Major League Baseball during their tenure at Turner Field, capturing the National League East titles in their first nine seasons in the venue, from 1997-2005. As a result of that dominance, the Braves drew over three million fans their first four seasons at Turner Field, and finished in the top 10 in league attendance their first 17 years there.
Hall of Famer Greg Maddux has the most wins in Turner Field history with 72, and also pitched the most innings, 911.1, at the ball park. Hall of Famer John Smoltz has the most strikeouts, 739, and appeared in the most games for a pitcher, 224, in Turner Field history.
While it is debatable was pitcher was the best performer in Turner Field history, it is clear who the best position player in Turner History was. Larry Wayne Jones, better known to baseball fans as Chipper Jones, dominates the offensive categories at Turner Field. Jones played the most games (1,119), had the most hits (1,223), drove in and scored the most runs (773 and 725, respectively) and hit the most home runs (226) in Turner Field history.
With the Atlanta Braves moving to SunTrust Park, it is indeed the end of an era for the franchise. The Braves leave Turner Field with a tremendous legacy of winning, nabbing 10 National League East titles and earning 12 postseason appearances in 20 years. Weird that the Braves will host the Detroit Tigers during the final three games at Turner Field starting tonight, but I suspect it won’t stop fans from packing in to say goodbye to the house that Ted Turner built, Turner Field.