Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann (16) takes batting practice prior to the start of the Stars of Today vs Stars of Tomorrow baseball game at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville on Tuesday.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Carly Bales is a quiet girl.
Asked what she thought about the baseball in her hand -- one recently crushed over Coolray Field's left field fence by the big-league biceps of Dan Uggla -- the 8-year-old from Dacula offered one softly spoken, but genuine, word: "Good."
Did she ever think she'd get a home run ball?
What did the softball fanatic think about the game, one pitting current Atlanta Braves against their minor league counterparts?
A standing-room-only crowd packed Lawrenceville's Coolray Field Tuesday night for the exhibition billed as "All-Stars vs. Future Stars," a preseason contest matching well-known names like McCann and Heyward against prospects like Terdoslavich and Gilmartin.
The game might have been in a minor league park with Atlanta legend Bobby Cox managing the baby Braves, but the crowd Tuesday was clearly most excited about having big leaguers on the field. With Braves in both dugouts, the tomahawk chop became somewhat of an awkward proposition -- more often than not, though, it echoed in support of a rally by the MLB stars.
"We couldn't miss it. I love it," said Mike Bales, the father of the precocious girl who wound up with a home run ball. "It's good to see all the big names out there. And Bobby Cox."
Alas, rain began to fall in the fifth inning, emptying out some of the stands and an otherwise jam-packed outfield berm. The downpour finally forced a weather delay in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Atlanta squad up 4-3.
A second-inning homer by Uggla, the Atlanta Braves' slugging second baseman, technically bounced off a tent set up high above left field, bounding down into the bullpen before someone chucked it back up to 22-year-old Lawrenceville resident Alexandra Onley.
Onley then handed it off to Carly Bales, who sat beaming with it, eyes lit up under the hood of a Braves sweatshirt.
"I think it's a lot of fun seeing the upcoming talent playing the current talent," Onley said, before speaking about the home run ball. "I was just wondering which was it was going to roll off the tent to see if I had a chance."
While Carly basked silently in the glow of her new souvenir, her mother, Joy, summoned a few words for her.
"Uggla's our new favorite player, isn't he?" she said.