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‘The place came unglued’: Gainesville fans share their experiences watching Atlanta Braves play for World Series
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From left, Rob Fowler, Banks Fowler, Brett Fowler and Laura Fowler at the 2021 World Series at Truist Park.

Michael Rifenburg can remember Sid Bream’s slide in 1992, the 1995 championship and the subsequent heartbreakers at the hands of the New York Yankees.

Rifenburg watched those Atlanta Braves games as a kid with his family, a tradition he was able to share with his children — including his son, Maddux, named for the Braves pitching phenom Greg Maddux — on Sunday, Oct. 31.

But the night before, Rifenburg had a chance to watch the Braves in person at Game 4 of the World Series, attending the game with his longtime friend while sporting his 1995 shirt.

In the seventh inning, Dansby Swanson and Jorge Soler hit back-to-back home runs that silenced nearby Astros fans while sending Braves fans into jubilation.

“I’ve been at some college football games in Oklahoma, Auburn, Georgia, but (after) those back-to-back home runs, my ears literally hurt with the sound that came through that stadium,” Rifenburg said. “It was unreal.”

The Times caught up with Braves fans from the Gainesville/Hall County area watching the Braves play for their first World Series in more than two decades.

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Michael Rifenburg's 1995 Braves shirt he wore to the World Series at Truist Park in October, 2021. - photo by Michael Rifenburg

Brett Fowler was also at Game 4 with his wife, Laura, his son, Banks, and father, Rob. He said the RBI single from Austin Riley in the sixth inning perked up the crowd.

The first home run by Swanson in the seventh caused the fans to erupt, but after Soler, Fowler said it felt “like the place came unglued.”

“The high-fiving and jumping around, it was a neat experience to be a part of,” Fowler said.

Fowler became a season-ticket holder to ensure he would get tickets at face value, instead of the inflated prices seen by those trying to get a ticket this week.

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Brett Fowler and son 7-year-old Banks Fowler. Photo provided by Brett Fowler

Brent Holloway, of Gainesville, spent two hours across two days clicking incessantly trying to get tickets to no avail. Seeing a World Series game was something on Holloway’s bucket list still not accomplished until he noticed the dropping prices Friday, Oct. 29.

As the prices dropped roughly $200 in the secondary ticket market, Holloway said the prices “were starting to get closer to a range where I felt like I could justify the expense.”

After spending a little more than $1,000, Holloway was able to get the ticket Friday afternoon, take off early from work, grab a jacket and head to The Battery.

Though he used to get ticket packages at Turner Field, this was Holloway’s first time at the Cobb County cathedral to baseball known as Truist Park.

“I was really reticent about paying what they were asking for the nosebleeds, but after being there, I don’t know if there would have been a bad seat,” Holloway said.

Holloway recalled a lively fan atmosphere, where it felt like the fans were “hanging on every pitch.”

“Every time (the Astros) got a guy on base, you’re just thinking to yourself, ‘They’re one swing away from taking this away from us,’” Holloway said.

The Braves went on to win 2-0 Friday.

“Not having a ticket when I left for work on Friday and coming back home at 2 o’clock in the morning with a World Series hat on, it was a pretty good day,” Holloway said.

Fowler, who went to the inaugural games at Turner Field and the previously named SunTrust Park, said the experience ranks high among his sports memories of Georgia football SEC championships and beyond.

“This one was probably special because I’ve gone to most of those games with my dad, so to be able to take my son and have my dad there,” Fowler said. “… From a father-son moment, it’s a pretty neat experience to kind of see it through his eyes.”

The Braves lead the series 3-2. Game 6 will be played Tuesday in Houston.