Dear Baseball: An Open Letter to My Long-Delayed Friend

Dear Baseball, when will you start? I’ve been lost without you for 22 days now, yes I have counted the days since my last home high school baseball broadcast and since the day spring training was canceled and Opening Day was delayed.

Originally, Opening Day was delayed by two weeks. But last week, the MLB announce that would be another eight weeks until you were back.

That made me have to wait an extra 12 weeks for your return and honestly, I’m lost without you. There is absolutely nothing on the TV these days that I care to watch.

I did the math last week, and Opening Day is now projected to start on May 14. I can’t go much longer than I already have to without you.

I never thought I’d see the day where you divorced me so unexpectedly. But to be honest with you, it really hurt my heart.

If you come back in 11 more weeks, we can forget that this ever happened. Please come back on May 14.

I’m baseball deprived and that is vital for me to be able to live day-by-day. There is nothing that I love more than I love you.

I hope to see you as soon as possible.

Yours truly,

Braxton Parmer.

Picture: Talking Chop.

The Coronavirus Cut My Seventh Year of Broadcasting Short

Last night, it was announced that the Coronavirus had a confirmed case in Elmore County, Alabama, which is the county I live in.

But that’s not all that was announced. In between middle school baseball games last night, one of our coaches told me that all Alabama public schools had been forced to cancel school and athletics until April 6 after Wednesday.

When he told me, I immediately responded with, “What about the area games that we have to play, because playoffs start during the second week of April?” “Does this mean that nobody will go to the playoffs?”

The coach responded “We’ll see what happens man, we appreciate what you have done in the past and continue to do for this program.” I then gave him a fist bump and assured him that I would be back as soon as possible and in 2021.

This comes on the heels of the following cancellations/postponements: NHL canceled their season Thursday, NBA canceled their season on Thursday after two Utah Jazz players tested positive for COVID-19, MLB canceled remaining spring training games and delayed opening day by at least two weeks as a precaution to the virus, NASCAR announced Thursday that no fans will be allowed in attendance for tomorrow’s race, NCAA canceled all basketball conference tournaments and March Madness, as well as delayed baseball and softball for two weeks, which is scheduled to resume on March 30.

That’s not all but that’s all that I felt like listing.

Because of this virus, I have been robbed of the remaining home games until April 6th.

With that being said, no I do not have the coronavirus, so I’m not to blame.

Y’all be safe out there, wash your hands, stop buying all the toilet paper in stock and hope that sports will be back to normal sooner rather than later.

I’ll see y’all soon, God Bless and stay safe.

Chipper Jones Assuming Position of Analyst for ESPN Wednesday Night Baseball, Replacing David Ross

As a huge life-long Braves fan, when I first read the news of former Atlanta standout Chipper Jones stepping in to fill David Ross’ role on Wednesday Night Baseball for ESPN, which was made public Saturday night by “Talking Chop”, I can’t help but think about how much color he will bring to the booth.

Most all of us know Chipper for his serious approach to the game of baseball, but I know Chipper for being a jokester as well as for his serious approach toward the game that he loves dearly.

Many people know that his walk-up song was Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” for the most-part if not all of his 19-year career in Atlanta.

Sure, you’ve seen him blow bubbles with bubblegum in left field and at third base for years, but do you know his hand-signal?

If not, he sticks his middle two fingers down, leaving his pointer, thumb, and pinkie up. I watched him make this motion for many years.

Growing up, I idolized Chipper as a baseball player. But now, I idolize him as both a Hall of Fame baseball player and broadcaster. I never thought I would see the day where my role model and I would be in the same industry.

Chipper, thank you for the memories as a baseball player and I look forward to working with you one day in the booths of baseball parks across this nation.

You will never know how much of an impact you have made on my life for many years, and one day I will work alongside you, my role model, my childhood hero.

Don’t let those wires and headsets injure you buddy.

I won’t stop working toward my dream until I’m sitting next to you in a broadcast booth at a Major League Baseball stadium one day.

Take care buddy, welcome to the family. I’ll see you at the top of the mountain.

Photo: Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

Baseball is a Thinker’s Sport, Learn to Love the Game and the People in it

In my seven years as a baseball broadcaster, I have heard multiple times “Baseball is boring,” “Baseball is so slow,” and “I hate baseball, there’s not enough action.”

Often times when I’m behind the microphone, I get asked the question “What made you want to become a broadcaster, did you just wake up one day and decide to be a broadcaster?” I’m also asked, “How do you stay entertained during blowout games?”

My answer to the first question is, “I grew up around the game and was forced to stop playing the game by age eight from a broken finger that I sustained while bunting the ball. But God knew my future wasn’t in playing the sport, but analyzing it.”

My answer to the second question is, “In between innings during any given baseball that I am broadcasting, I can be found dancing, yes dancing, to the music that I play during that time.”

More often than not, people think that the sport doesn’t require much thinking, that it just comes natural. But in reality, it requires a ton of thinking.

You have to understand the fundamentals of the game, obviously. But then you also have to put yourself in the coaches shoes and visualize what you would do if you were the coach of the team in that particular situation.

You also have to study the game a ton. During your time off, you have to sit down and study different games.

It’s a thinker’s game, but it’s also about the people who play and coach the sport. You have to build a relationship with the coaches and players alike.

The game of baseball in my opinion, is the best sport on the face of the Earth. Not just because of my broadcasting career, but also because of the relationships that I have built with multiple coaches and players.

Learn to love the game and the people involved with it.

Braves Part Ways With On-Field Reporter, Kelsey Wingert

After four full seasons as a Braves reporter, Kelsey Wingert will not return for the 2020 season.

The 27-year-old Sugar Land, Texas native has been on the field bringing Braves fans like myself the latest injury news and much more.

Wingert attended Stephen F. Austin University and Louisiana State University for college.

Thursday, the reporter posted a statement regarding her departure on her Twitter account.

Wingert started reporting for the Braves in 2016.

Kelsey, thank you for the memories, your constant updates, your love for the game and so much more.

You will be terribly missed in the dugout. I believe I speak for all of us when I say, we love you from the bottom of our hearts.

Thank you for your willingness to work with Atlanta for the past four seasons. Braves Country won’t be the same without you.

In closing I say, you will always be welcomed to Atlanta with open arms.

Best of luck in your future endeavors.

Chop On forever.

Kelsey Wingert’s statement regarding her departure which was posted to Twitter Thursday afternoon. Source: Twitter.
Source: The Athletic.

Baseball Shuts Out Class 7A Powerhouse 2-0, Improves to (2-1) On Season

Monday night, the Class 7A Hewitt-Trussville Huskies visited Bazemore Field and left with a sour taste in their mouths.

The scoring began and ended in the bottom of the second inning when the Indians got a one-out double from the second batter who was brought home on a Doug Johnson single.

Johnson was brought home a batter later and the rest of the game was a 2-0 stalemate.

Some of you may ask “How is Hewitt-Trussville a 7A powerhouse this early in the season?” Well here’s your answer.

Last year, Jeff Mauldin, the Huskies head coach led his ball club to the semifinals, where they were swept by the Bob Jones Patriots and thus, ousted from playoff action.

In addition to that Coach Mauldin has won 7 state titles in eight years in Trussville, Alabama, including multiple Final Four appearances.

Friday night, the Indians will return to Bazemore Field to take on the Class 7A Spain Park Jaguars in a 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. doubleheader.

3B/RHP Kyle Morrison celebrates Monday night’s victory with 1B/P Dawson Fuller and 2B Noah Jones. Picture credit: Brody Huffaker.

I Asked for it, I Got it: 14 Hours of the Game I Love

Yesterday around 6:30 a.m., I woke up and got ready for opening day of the 2020 baseball season for Wetumpka High School.

I arrived at Bazemore Field around 8:45 a.m., with ‘sleep’ still in my eyes, I knew that it would be a great day. After all, it’s not the first time that I have arrived at the field with sleep in my eyes.

I made my way into the press box for the first time in 2020 and I immediately felt like I had never left. All that was on my mind was taking care of business behind the microphone.

About 9:45, a.m., with loud music playing behind me, I walked over to the right corner of the press box, removed my hat and prayed, as I have done for seven years now.

When I finished praying I looked up and pointed to the sky, as I have done for the six years. Then I proceeded to grab the microphone and test it out for the first time this year.

As I spoke into it, I felt chills run down my spine because I knew that I had been waiting on this day since the last game of the previous season was played back in April.

The day progressed and my voice never seemed to waiver. Wetumpka lost the first game of the 11 a.m and 5p.m., doubleheader, which turned out to be an 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. doubleheader.

The sun began to set just beyond the wall in centerfield. By this time I knew that we would bounce back from defeat in game one, and we did just that, to the tune of a 13-3 win over Munford High School.

Now, most people might say “14 hours worth of baseball, that’s a lot, weren’t you tired?!?” The tiredness never hit me during the games, but when I got home at 10:45 p.m., and went to bed, there was no waking me up.

I’ve always heard, “Finish what you start and sleep once it’s done.” And I did just that.

If you want something bad enough, you have to sacrifice something, even if that means sacrificing sleep.

Tomorrow afternoon, I will be back at Bazemore Field for a 4 p.m. first pitch against the Hewitt-Trussville Huskies.

The Passing of an Icon: Infamous Rodeo Clown Lecile Harris Passes Away at age 83

It’s safe to say, rodeos will never be the same.

Thursday afternoon, it was made public on Lecile Harris’ Facebook page that the infamous daredevil went to Heaven in his sleep at the age of 83.

Harris was born in Lake Cormorant, Mississippi on November 6, 1936. where he lived until he was five-years-old. After turning five, Lecile and his parents moved to Collierville, Tennessee.

Many people didn’t know this, but Lecile Harris, best-known for attempting hilarious and often life-threatening stunts on the dirt of an arena somewhere in this country for over half a century, attend The University of Tennessee at Martin, where he was a part of the Skyhawks football team.

He got his rodeo career started as a bull rider, and then later saw himself perform some fill-in duties as a bullfighter when other bullfighters were unable to attend the show for one reason or another.

When I was a kid, maybe around the age of three or four, my parents took my brother and I to the Southeastern Livestock Exposition Rodeo, which was held just up the road in Montgomery, Alabama at Garrett Coliseum, in fact that rodeo has been around for what will soon be 63 years this coming March 19-21, 2020.

My favorite part of the rodeo was the clowns, I never really was big on clowns, but there was something about Lecile that I loved.

He just seemed so friendly and quite like me in my younger days, he seemed like a daredevil.

One year in particular, I believe somewhere between 2002 and 2004, it was announced that Lecile would be in town for the rodeo.

Now, by this time, he had already made a name for himself, starring in television shows like ‘Hee Haw’ back before I was born, but I didn’t know that at the time.

It was also said that he had a surprise guest coming with him, so I begged my parents to take us, and they did.

We got to the rodeo and after the national anthem was played I screamed across the coliseum “Play Ball!” Because that’s what I had always on TV and at baseball games.

Lecile’s friend’s name was ‘Wild Child’ and boy, was that Child Wild.

He and Lecile took turns during intermission jumping ramps on Wild Child’s dirt bike.

Wild Child jumped over a piano and motorhome successfully, but then came Lecile.

He got on Wild Child’s bike, jumped the ramp, blew up the motorhome and piano, which resulted in him sending Wild Child’s bike into flames.

I felt sorry for Wild Child at this point, but Lecile thought it was hilarious. He preceded to ask Wild Child “Can I do it again?!?” To which Wild Child responded “No, absolutely not!”

If you never got the chance to see Lecile in action, let me describe him to you, he wore a black cowboy hat, red suspenders, a red plaid shirt a dark blue jacket, a blue belt and blue jeans. Nothing he wore matched. His face was painted white around the eyes, red paint on his nose and sad looking white around his mouth, he looked like Emmett Kelly.

On the other hand, Wild Child mainly wore a big yellow cowboy hat, blue on his cheeks, red paint on his nose, a yellow shirt, blue suspenders, and saggy blue jean overalls.

Needless to say, neither one cared what they looked like.

From now on when I hear thunder I will always think “Here goes Lecile attempting his stunts again.”

Lecile, please be careful in heaven, don’t attempt jump any ramps and end up blowing things up.

Rest in Peace, my friend, I’ll see you again one day.

Picture Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Picture: Lufkin Daily News.

I’m Coming Back Home: If a Place Could Talk, I’d Talk to This Place for Hours on End

There are very few places where I can go and feel like I’ve escaped reality for a few hours.

In fact, there is one place in particular that I go to, not just because it’s a baseball diamond, not because there’s a press box here, not because I frequent this place a lot during this time of the year. But, because it’s the place where my dream of becoming a broadcaster came true.

What’s that place, you ask? That place is Bazemore Field, named after the late, great, Coach Stokely Bazemore, a highly successful baseball coach at my alma mater during his time at Wetumpka.

All my life, my family has called me ‘Little Stokely’, not because I’m a baseball coach, definitely not because I’m good at math, but because I remember statistics just like he did and because I often sit with my left leg over my right, just like he did.

So, it’s only fitting that my dream came to fruition here. Not only did my dream come true here, I also have countless memories here ranging back before my career as a broadcaster came to be.

I’ve been behind the microphone at Bazemore Field and several other places, not just in Wetumpka over the past six years, but none of them have quite felt like home like “The Baze.”

My dad often tells me stories of his playing days under Coach Stokley Bazemore and they never get old.

Coach Bazemore had a speech impediment from what I understand, but even with that. People loved him.

I never did have the honor of meeting Coach Bazemore, but I did attend his visitation in 2008, which was in the high school Commons area, which also serves as the lunchroom.

His casket sat right in the middle if the Commons above the top step right in front of the library.

I have a feeling Stokely Bazemore and I would have become fast friends, although he probably would’ve cussed me out over my math skills, which are lacking.

In fact, the highway leading to the school and baseball field is named “Coach Stokely Bazemore Highway” in his honor.

For almost seven years, my voice has been heard through the speakers at Bazemore Field and I have no doubt that Coach is sitting in Heaven tapping his foot and doing his famous hand gesture, where his finger tips would meet each other when he was in deep thought, which chalk dust on the seat of his pants.

I like to think that he would be beaming ear-to-ear knowing that “Pahma’s” son was calling the games at the place named after him.

Pahma was his nickname for my dad, but he couldn’t say his R’s.

This coming Saturday, three days from now, I will start my seventh season as baseball broadcaster when Wetumpka kicks off the season at home against Benjamin Russell and Sweet Water at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Don’t worry coach, I’ll be home soon.

Third picture: AHSFHS.org.