Viera, Fla. - Opening day will presumably find 18-year-old Bryce Harper in the starting lineup against the Braves - the Rome Braves of the Single-A South Atlantic League. Harper was assigned to Hagerstown after yesterday's game, and the Suns open their season April 7 on the road.
If you're contemplating showing up for the game, you might want to go to the Rome Braves Web site and get your tickets quickly, since I expect there will be a rush on them now that the word is out about Harper's assignment.
Getting to State Mutual Stadium in Rome is another story.
No interstate highway passes through Rome. If you draw a triangle from Atlanta to Chattanooga, Tenn., to Birmingham, Ala., Rome would be somewhere near the center. Southwest flies to Birmingham, USAir flies to Atlanta and Chattanooga. There may be other airlines that do the same, but getting close by air doesn't seem to be a problem. Rent a car, find a hotel, and voila! You're an eyewitness to baseball history. Maybe.
The Rome ballpark holds about 5,000 fans, and last year the Braves averaged just over half capacity. Opening day down there will be a bigger deal this year, with lots of media on hand, so as I said, you might want to jump on tickets ASAP.
And remember, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. I've never quite grasped the significance of that particular old saw, but suffice to say, the Georgia Romans likely do quite differently than the Italian variety.