10/02/2002 1:18 pm ET
Fans don't take Braves for granted
By Paul C. Smith / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Braves officials expected less than a packed Turner Field for the game on Wednesday afternoon, but there was no lack of enthusiasm from the Paysor family of six.
The Paysor parents, Jeff and Laura, came all the way from Charlotte, N.C., just for Game 1 of the Giants-Braves Division Series and took their children -- Caitlin, 13, Emily, 11, Alex, 10, and Nicole, 8 -- out of school for it.
"They didn't seem to mind," Laura laughed. "They are all Braves fans and we all think they are going to go all the way this year."
The Paysors said they come down for games during the regular season but had never been to a playoff game and were happy to find they could walk up and get tickets.
"We're surprised we got seats and we got real good ones," Laura said.
Marty and Kim Knapp came all the way up from Auburndale, Fla., (near Orlando) for the first two games of the series. They also have Braves Spring Training tickets.
"We've come twice a year since 1997," Marty said. "So, we're not surprised there won't be a full crowd. Atlanta has always been a little spoiled because of the Braves' success."
A quick check of license plates in the parking lot 90 minutes before the game revealed that many of the fans attending Wednesday's game were from out of town.
"I wouldn't say we take the playoffs for granted," said Herb Stanley of Marietta. "But I would say they have lost the special feeling of the early '90s."
The Braves have won their division every season since 1991 (except the strike year of 1994) and smaller crowds for the first round of games have become the norm.
"It will pick up for the World Series, at least I hope it does," said John Byrd, who has operated a souvenir stand across the street from Braves games for more than 20 years. "People seem less excited to me. They ain't spending no money, and talking about going on strike this year didn't help. Last year was a better year."
Ethel Williams, who was working in the souvenir stand her brother has run for almost 30 years, is more optimistic.
"I think the Braves are going all the way, so I think people are very excited about it," Williams said. "Now, today might not be real good because it's a weekday and a lot of people have to work."
Williams said her brother won't order extra T-shirts and items until he knows there are going to be more playoff games, but she said she knows what he'll go for.
"Everybody wants the bobbing head dolls and baseball cards," Williams said. "And everybody is looking for Javy (Lopez). All the young girls want Javy. We can't keep the Javy dolls."
Byrd said he would add in a few other players in his orders.
"Most people like Chipper (Jones) items and they have been asking for Gary Sheffield, they like him too," Byrd said. "But, no question, the ladies like Javy Lopez."
Paul C. Smith is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.