Yesterday seemed like a normal day, little did I know several hours later, I would have the distinct honor and privilege of meeting and calling the home run for one of the most inspirational kids that I’ve ever met.
Meet Landon McGregor, Landon has Down syndrome and is the bat boy for Alex City Middle School’s baseball team. He has an infectious personality with a smile that will undoubtedly light up a room.
Prior to the first game of the doubleheader, our head coach came up to me and explained the situation to me. He told me to play it up, which I gladly agreed to do under the circumstances.
To lead off the doubleheader, Landon happily walked up to the plate bat in hand. It wasn’t long before Landon hit the ball and was rounding the bases with a huge smile on his face. His trip around the bases was ended with a slide at home plate and kids surrounding him congratulating him on his big hit.
Little did Landon know, his big moment taught me one important thing, the little things in life are really all that matters.
Dear Freddie Freeman, for 15 years, 11 of those spent in the big leagues with the Atlanta Braves, you gave all of Braves Country more than we could ever repay you for.
You’ve been our shoulder to cry on during the down years, you’ve celebrated with us in the high years. Despite the ebbs and flows of the years in between your first year here in Atlanta and your last, you stuck it out.
You said you were blessed to be a part of organization, when in fact, we were blessed to have you and your amazing family at our side through the rollercoaster that you ride alongside us for 11 years of big league service, 15 counting your time in the minors.
Thank you for providing us with so many memories, from the home run hugs, to the last out of the 2021 World Series. You did it all.
To Chelsea, thank you for sacrificing so much time with your husband for the betterment of this organization. Freddie is a sensational man who has left an incredible impact on the lives of those of us who are fortunate enough to call ourselves Braves fans. He’s been with for a decade and a half and you have been right there with him.
To Charlie, Brandon, and Maximus Freeman, thank you for sharing your dad with us. Thank you, Charlie for the unconditional love that you’ve shown us the past few years. To Brandon and Maximus, your story impacted us all and brought us all to tears.
Freddie, again, my brother, thank you for sharing your family, your athletic ability, and your story with us all for 15 years. You my friend, are the epitome of what it means to be an Atlanta Brave.
Thanks for everything, until our paths cross again, so long my friend, I wish you and your family nothing but the best.
There are no words to adequately describe the man that was Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron. I don’t say that lightly. You see, it was nearly a year ago, that we lost a great man, a noble man, a man of the highest character, integrity, tenacity, and fortitude.
When Hank Aaron, a black man from Mobile, Alabama, passed away on January 22, 2021, we lost a man whom, so bravely stood face-to-face with social injustice in the Deep South in the 1950s and 60s.
We lost a legend, but Hank Aaron didn’t care about his statistics, his fame, or what people thought of his career, he was more concerned with seeing that people were treated with the same amount of respect. He was an advocate, a servant, a legend, and an icon in every sense of his being.
He was and is highly revered in the baseball world, just as he deserves to be. Now, I never had the distinct honor of talking to Mr. Aaron during his 86 years of life here on Earth, but from what I’ve read in articles and books, he never wanted to discuss his historic 23-year Major League Baseball career that saw him break Babe Ruth’s long-standing record of 714 home runs by sending a ball into the left-center field bullpen at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium at 9:07 p.m., eastern time on April 8, 1974.
He was more concerned with discussing how you were, discussing your needs, and wants. He never was self-centered at all. Hall of Fame third baseman, Chipper Jones once said “When Mr. Aaron walked into a room, the crowd got quiet, when he spoke, you listened. But when he made himself available for conversation, you approached him, shook his massive hand, and heeded any advice he offered.”
The baseball world definitely hasn’t been the same since Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron passed away just shy of a year ago because we’ve all felt the void that the absence of such a noble human has left in our hearts. I never got the chance to speak with Mr. Aaron here on Earth, but when my name is called one day to head to that big baseball stadium made of gold in Heaven, you can rest assured that I will approach Mr. Aaron and tell him just how much he means to not only me but to the baseball world in general.
Afterwards, if Mr. Aaron has any advice on how to hit 755 home runs, I will sit back and enjoy his company. Rest In Peace, Hammer. I l love you, brother.
I think it’s safe to say that November 2, 2021, is a date that I will never forget. Perhaps you’re not a sports fan and you’re thinking “Why November 2?” The answer to this question is simple yet complex.
It’s the night that the Atlanta Braves, my favorite baseball team, won the Major League Baseball World Series. I can recall sitting in the back of the house when I was little with my baby-sitter, an older lady, watching the games for hours on end.
I can remember the days of Turner Broadcasting System, more commonly known as TBS, listening to the voices of Skip and Chip Caray, Pete Van Weiren and occasionally, Ernie Johnson, describing the action.
I can remember going to Turner Field as a little kid, possibly three or four, and reciting the SportsCenter theme song as we pulled into the stadium parking lot. I’ve seen thousands of iconic moments in franchise history and I’ve definitely seen my fair share of some not-so-iconic moments.
I saw them in the middle of their unprecedented 14-straight division title run while under the direction of the legendary Bobby Cox. I’ve seen my favorite player retire and be immortalized in baseball history. I’ve seen the good, bad and ugly, but I never gave up on them. I’ve gone to sleep many a night feeling broken-hearted because of a one-run loss, and I’ve pulled adrenaline-filled all-nighters celebrating icon wins.
But the one thing that I hadn’t seen until November 2, 2021, was a World Series trophy head home to Atlanta. I’ve endured many years of postseason heartbreak, sleepless nights, and so much more and all of it paid off 24 hours ago.
It was a long wait, but it was worth the wait. It was the night that I had waited my entire life to see.
It’s been a long season, one full of ups and downs for teams all over the State of Alabama no matter what the classification might be.
Every team has their high points and low points over the course of a season, no matter what length it is. Wetumpka (20-7) seems to be hitting their stride at the perfect time.
Indians’ third baseman Kyle Morrison stated “This is just another game to me, we have a lot of confidence in our teammates and we know what we’re capable of doing, all we have to do is take it pitch by pitch.”
Morrison also stated “We don’t want to overlook those guys (Stanhope Elmore), they are a talented group and nothing will be easy in this one, it never does. As long as we compete for seven solid innings, we’ll be fine.”
The Indians return to the friendly confines of Bazemore Field on Thursday for a doubleheader against Stanhope Elmore, whom the Tribe defeated 8-2 on Tuesday in Millbrook, Alabama, at Furlow Field.
With the rivalry between Stanhope Elmore and Wetumpka being one of Elmore County’s best, Morrison uses it as motivation every time they take the field donning the black and gold.
“This rivalry definitely pushes us harder to go out there and be our best.”
He also credits the tough schedule that Wetumpka was faced with this year as a stepping stone in preparing for this moment.
“This schedule has definitely prepared us not only for this moment, but also for the playoffs. We have faced a lot of talented teams this year with bright futures and we’ve our share of adversity, but in the long run that’s what it takes if you want to succeed.”
“This season has definitely taught us some lessons that we will cherish for the rest of our lives, we definitely won’t take this opportunity for granted because it could be taken away tomorrow.”
It’s the Indians and Mustangs, Wetumpka and Stanhope Elmore, for the Class 6A Area 5 Championship. First pitch is slated for 4:30pm with a second game to follow if necessary.
It’s no secret that the Atlanta Braves have one of the most talented and hungry teams in the entire MLB. After all, they were just one win shy of earning their first berth in the World Series since that Commissioner’s Trophy made the glorious trip back to Atlanta in 1995.
This team has so much talent, quite possibly the most talent that I’ve seen return to one team since the mid-2000s, when we were in the in the midst of an unprecedented 14-consecutive division titles under the legendary Bobby Cox.
I truly believe that this team has every capability of bringing another Commissioner’s Trophy home to Atlanta. Tomorrow, the road to the World Series begins at 2:05 p.m CT in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at Citizens Bank Park.
Aaron Nola will make his fourth-consecutive Opening Day start in the red pinstripes, while Brian Snitker will hand the rock to Max Fried, who will be making his first-career Opening Day start.
Often times, specifically this time of year, between mid-to-late February and mid-to-late April with a possibility of early May, depending on how the playoffs shake out, I’m the busiest I’ll be all year.
I’m away from home more times than not this time of year, whether it’s at my day-job or my night-job as a broadcaster, this time of year is always more hectic than any other time of year, but honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
I’d rather be busy anyway, it keeps my mind and hands busy, as a mentor of mine once told me, “Idle hands are the devil’s playground.” There’s a lot of truth in that statement.
It’s so hard to believe that I’m a little over half way to my ninth year as a broadcaster, honestly it seems like just yesterday I was broadcasting my first game.
I guess the old saying ‘Time flies when you’re having fun,” is true. Except for me, I’m not just having fun, I’m living my dream and embracing the chaos one pitch at a time.
Just two weeks ago, we said our earthly goodbyes to Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron, the Mobile, Alabama, native, who broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record of 714 on April 8, 1974, in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, which now serves as a parking lot to the adjacent Georgia State Panthers Football Field, the former Turner Field, which was home of the Braves from 1997 to 2016.
All that’s left of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium is a little section of the wall. You might ask ‘Well, why just a portion of the wall?’ You see, that portion of the left-center field wall serves as a reminder of all that was Mr. Hank Aaron and the all that he stood for.
Today, we remember Hank for the humbleness, integrity, honor, and dignity, with which he carried himself for so many years both on and off of the baseball field. Normally, we would be wishing him a happy and safe birthday on this day, but we don’t have to do that today, because we know that he is in a better place, far better than this land.
Hank is at the Feet of God in Heaven at this moment, I can only imagine how he is celebrating his first birthday in Heaven today, but I know that it’s far greater than any birthday he ever celebrated here on Earth during his time with us.
Today as not only Braves fans but baseball fans in general, we should offer words of comfort, compassion, inspiration, and motivation for his loved ones. To Hank’s wife Billye Suber Aaron, his children, Gary, Lary, Dorinda, Gaile, Hank Jr., and Ceci, I’m here to say that you aren’t the only ones mourning today, for we are with you.
Even though Hank may no longer be here physically, he will always be with us spiritually. Today, do as Hank would want you to do and “Just keep swingin,’” he is no longer in pain nor is he suffering and we will all meet in the Kingdom of Heaven when our names are called.
For as long as I can remember, Don Sutton has been a member of the Atlanta Braves broadcast team. I can clearly recall standing in front of TV as a little kid and listening to Don, along with Skip Caray and Pete Van Wieren, and later, Skip’s son Chip, call the action.
The trio of Skip, Pete, and Don have now been reunited in Heaven and I’m sure that they will be calling the Braves’ games from the vantage point of Heaven, the greatest vantage point of them all. Not only was Don Sutton a great broadcaster, he was also a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher.
A 1998 inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, National Baseball Hall of Fame Chairman, Jane Forbes Clark said “Don Sutton’s brilliance on the field, and his last commitment to the game that he so loved, carried through to his time as a Member of the Hall of Fame, I know how much he treasured his moments in Cooperstown, just as we treasured our special moments with him. We share our deepest condolences with his wife, Mary and his family.”
Sutton, a Clio, Alabama native, began his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers with whom he played from 1966-1980, and again in 1988. From 1981-82 Sutton was traded from the Dodgers to the Houston Astros, from Houston he left and went to Milwaukee to join the Brewers club from 1982-84, from Milwaukee he went out to California to join the Oakland Athletics where he stayed for less than a year in 1985. Later in 1985 he moved across California and joined the Los Angeles/California Angels with whom he stayed until the end of the 1987 season. In 1988, Don returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
During his career, he won 324 games as a pitcher and earned a spot in the hallowed halls of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Following his playing days, he joined the Atlanta Braves broadcast team where he served for all but two years from 1989-2018. He spent the 2008-09 seasons with the Washington Nationals’ broadcast team.
Tuesday afternoon, Don’s son Daron released the following statement on social media, “Saddened to share that my dad passed away in his sleep last night (Monday night). He worked as hard as anyone I’ve ever known and he treated those he encountered with great respect…and he took me to work a lot. For all these things, I am very grateful, Rest in Peace.”
The Braves subsequently released a statement that read, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend, Don Sutton. A generation of Braves fans came to know his voice…But despite all (his) success, Don never lost his generous character or humble personality.”
I would have to agree, every time I ever heard the voice of Don Sutton over the TV or radio, I always learned something new about the game. His knowledge for the game of baseball is what I credit for my obsession with the sport.
While sharing his unmatched wisdom, he would often find just enough room to squeeze in one of his corny jokes about either the game the night before or a personal experience with his family in which he found great humor. I could go on and on for hours about the memories that I have and will carry with me for the rest of my time here on Earth that include Don Sutton, but I don’t want to keep you here all day.
Even when he was on the mound, Don wanted to be a broadcaster, specifically with the Braves. In 1976, when the Dodgers were in town playing the Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Sutton, in his usual casual-but-humorous style told Pete Van Wieren: “Someday Pete, we’re going to work together.” Little did he know he had just predicted the future.
It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t wrap this up with Don’s signature sign-off call, “That’ll do it here in Atlanta, for my broadcast partners, Skip Caray and Pete Van Wieren, so long and Go Braves.”
It’s hard to believe that in just over a month, I will begin my eighth season as a baseball broadcaster. Honestly, it seems like just the other day, I was standing against the of the home dugout at Bazemore Field when I got the opportunity to broadcast my first game, but we’ll dig back into the vault and pull that out later.
In these eight seasons, I’ve been on hand for 315 games, had you asked me eight years ago if I would be fortunate enough to still be living out my dream 315 games later, I would’ve probably told you, “This is probably just a one time deal.”
But here I am, eight years later and I haven’t been kicked out of the press box yet. And I couldn’t think of a better school to serve as a broadcaster for. I’ve been a member of this program in some capacity, for nine years.
With every passing season, every passing game, every passing minute and second, this program becomes more and more etched into my heart.
When I look back on the previous 315 games of my career, I realize just how blessed I am to live out my dream as a broadcaster. But not just any broadcaster, but the “Voice” of Wetumpka High School Baseball. Over the course of my time as a broadcaster, I’ve seen highs and I’ve seen lows, but I’ll always be thankful for everything that has come my way.
No matter where this industry takes me, I’ll always be proud to say that it all started at Bazemore Field in the small town of Wetumpka, Alabama.
Here’s to the next 315 games of my career. 315 more games worth of memories. I’ll be back home in a little over a month.