See Ya Later, Champ; Open Letter to Dansby Swanson

Dear Dansby Swanson,

When news broke Saturday afternoon of you being dealt to the Chicago Cubs, it flashed on my phone and I honestly couldn’t believe what I was reading.

I’ve never seen you in another professional jersey other than that of your hometown team, the Atlanta Braves. Back in 2016, we got you in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks that sent Shelby Miller to the Desert.

You’ve been with us at our absolute worst, and you’ve been with us when we were on top of the proverbial baseball world. To say you will be missed would be an absolute understatement. Thank you, Dansby.

Thank you for giving us your all every time you hit the field. From your clutch plays in 2016 to the last out of the 2021 World Series, you left it all out on that diamond.

Thank you for everything, my friend. What an incredible ride you’ve seen with us. I can’t think of a shortstop that I would’ve rather won a World Series with than you.

Thank you, sir. We love you.

Best of luck in the Windy City. Never forget where home is. This isn’t goodbye, it’s simply see ya later, Champ.

16 Years Later: In Loving Memory of Big Ken

16 years ago today, on October 2, 2006, my grandad lost an eight-month battle with pancreatic cancer. My brother and I affectionately referred to him as “Big Ken,” due to his 6’4” frame. That name fit him in more ways than just his physical stature. To the two of us, he was larger than life itself.

He loved sports, the outdoors, his family and so much more but most importantly, he loved the Lord. His hair was as white as a cotton field, his clothes were always starched, not a wrinkle in sight, his car was spotless. His favorite candy was Circus Peanuts with a glass-bottled Coke, the type that leaves divet imprints in your hand if you don’t use a bottle opener.

Although you can hardly find glass-bottle cokes anywhere these days, I like to think that he is the reason that I love Circus Peanuts. He took great pride in everything he did in his 68 years.

Now, by the time my brother and I came along in 1997, he was “real tired,” as my brother once said, which is what he thought the word “retired,” meant. Big Ken loved spending time with us. He would sit patiently outside his Spanish Fort, Alabama home while I pretended to take his “order” as a young boy. He played baseball with us in the backyard for hours on end without complaining one bit. Again, he loved his family.

In the early 2000’s circa 2002, he built my brother and I a bridge in front of his home. A bridge that still stands some 20 years after it was built.

We spent time with him on picnics at Fort Toulouse in my hometown of Wetumpka, Alabama when he and my grandmother would come to visit and I can’t remember a time when the trunk of his Crown Victoria wasn’t slammed full with toys for us both.

Until we meet again, Big Ken. Hold it down with the Lord and rest assured, your memory will remain alive until I take my last earthly breath and join you in the greatest Kingdom known to man. You took what you had, did what you could, provided us with memories that we’ll never forget, and for that we’ll always be thankful. I love you.

September 11, 2001: The Day This Nation Stood Still

It was 21 years ago today, that not only this nation, but the world as a whole, was changed forever. Thousands of lives were lost as a result of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

It all began at 5:45 a.m., when hijackers passed through security screenings in Portland, Maine. 19 terrorists hijacked four California-bound commercial planes just after their departures from airports in Boston, Massachusetts, Newark, New Jersey, and the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area.

Two of the intended hijackers Mohamed Atta and Abdul Aziz al-Omari boarded a commuter flight to Boston Logan International Airport, where they board American Airlines Flight 11.

At 7:59 a.m., Flight 11 took off from Boston and heads for Los Angeles, California. At takeoff, there were 76 passengers, 11 crew members, and 5 hijackers aboard.

Then, at 8:15 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 takes off from Boston heading to Los Angeles. There were 51 passengers, 9 crew members, and 5 hijackers on the plane at the time the aircraft left the runway.

At 8:19 a.m., Betty Ann Ong, a flight attendant on Flight 11, warned the ground crew that a hijacking was taking place and the cockpit in inaccessible.

Meanwhile, at 8:20 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 took off from Dulles, just outside of the Nation’s Capital and headed for Los Angeles, at the time there were 53 passengers, 6 crew members, and 5 hijackers on the aircraft.

At 8:24 a.m., hijacker Mohamed Atta, aboard Flight 11 unintentionally lets air controllers in Boston know of the attack.

Fast forward to 8:42 a.m., and United Flight 93 took off from Newark, New Jersey, after a delay. It headed to San Francisco, California. At the time of takeoff, there were 33 passengers, 7 crew members, and 4 hijackers on the flight.

At 8:46 a.m., Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower and all passengers were instantly killed while employees of the World Trade Center were trapped above the 91st floor.

At 9:03 a.m., Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower all passengers were killed including an unknown number of people in the tower.

At 9:28 a.m., hijackers attack on Flight 93. While Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m.

By 10:30 a.m., both towers had become nothing but rubble and at 5:30 p.m. Building 7 at the World Trade Center came crashing down.

It was on this day 21 years ago, that 2,977 lives were lost and families changed. Our homeland was under fire and our people were blown away and some went down heroes in that Shanksville, Pennsylvania field.

The deadliest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 changed the way we live our daily lives. It changed the way we see our freedoms. It brought to light the frailness of life and just how quickly a completely innocent life can be taken.

May we never forget what was the day the nation stood still, September 11, 2001. God Bless.

246 Years of Freedom: July 4, 2022

246 years ago today, this nation that we call home was born the moment our Founding Fathers signed their names on that document historic document that we know as the Declaration of Independence.

For 246 incredible years, the flag that we call Old Glory has stood for everything that an American should embody. The morals, the values, and the ideas upon which this country was founded.

The colors on that blanket of freedom each have their own meanings. When I look at the red, I’m reminded of the blood of those patriots that has been shed over the centuries to protect the freedoms that she represents.

The white reminds me of the purity and honesty that was the idea for this great land. Then I look at the blue, and I am immediately reminded of the courage that it takes to see that the freedoms of this land never get taken away.

You see, Old Glory has flown high and proud above so many foreign lands and has stood starched in the paths of enemies over the to years. She’s been from Korea to Vietnam, Afghanistan, to the Islands of Iwo Jima. She almost fell at the Alamo, she got cut at Chancellorsville and Shiloh Hill, she turned red in World War II.

But you see, back here in her own land, she’s been burned, dishonored, denied, and refused. To the point where they’ve almost quit waving her back home.

She’s been through the fire before. She might be getting thread bare and wearing thin, but she’s in pretty good shape for the things that she has seen. As for us back home, we raise her up right, we take her down every night, we don’t letter touch the ground, and we fold her up right.

It seems these days, that the media only wants to tell us what’s wrong with our homeland. The media only wants to talk about the bad happening here at home. Turn off the news. Here lately it seems that the media wants to try to divide us as a nation and turn us as a nation away from God. A nation whose motto is, “In God We Trust and United We Stand.” Happy Independence Day!

Longtime Braves Public Address Announcer, Casey Motter, Passes Away

This afternoon at about 12:15 p.m., I got the notification that I thought I would never have to get. The Atlanta Braves public address announcer, Casey Motter, passed away early Thursday morning in his sleep. 

Casey Motter got his start in broadcasting announcing youth football and baseball games in nearby Peachtree City, Georgia, where he would often bring his own sound system and music. 

His big break came on one November night in 2006, when the Braves assistant general manager, Frank Wren was blown away by the talent that Casey possessed. Frank videoed the youth football game that Casey was announcing and turned it into an invitation to try out for the Braves PA spot. 

Casey, a Smyrna, Georgia native and avid Braves fan, made the most of the opportunity, ultimately winning the job over a dozen other finalists with professional experience. 

The voice of Casey Motter, is one that will always hold a special place in my heart. The way he delivered himself during games. The enthusiasm he showed for his Braves will now and forever remain unmatched. I looked forward to one day being able to work alongside Casey in the Braves booth. In fact, he’s the one whom I model my deliverance after. There won’t ever be another Casey Motter.

My heart goes out to the entire Motter family at this time. Rest In Peace, my friend, save me a seat in the greatest booth of them all!

(Ballpark DJ)

The Little Things in Life: Landon McGregor’s home run

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.

Congratulations, Landon!

Little Miss Nobody Identified after more than 60 years

It was a long time coming. With all of the advances in technology, the identification of Little Miss Nobody remained a mystery that seemed to elude even the sharpest of minds.

But finally after more than six decades, 62 years to be exact, the New Mexico girl once know solely as Little Miss Nobody, has finally been given her name back, and identified as Sharon Lee Gallegos.

The little girl who won the hearts of many people across Yavapai County, Arizona, was abducted on July 21, 1960 from her grandmother’s house in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where she was playing with her cousins.

Her partial remains were found on July 31, 1960, in a wash in Arizona. Her remains are believed to have been buried one to two weeks before discovery.

According to local authorities, there no signs of obvious injuries on the little girl’s decomposing body.

In 2018, her remains were exhumed so DNA samples could be taken.

The sheriff’s office and a Texas DNA company raised $4,000 earlier this year to fund specialized testing and finally identify the girl,

Rest In Peace, Sharon Lee Gallegos formerly known as “Little Miss Nobody”.

Source: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Facebook Page.

Hank Aaron: A Man Character, Integrity, Tenacity, and Fortitude

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.

Source (USA Today)

Paying Tribute: A Visit with Hank and Audrey Williams

Paying tribute. It’s something I’ve always liked to do. Whether it’s having one of the person’s favorites, whether it be candy or food. To physically visiting their grave and having a chat with them for a bit.

Yes, I know that the actual person isn’t lying beneath that cold hard stone, only their Earthly body, but their soul, the part of a person that actually makes a human who they are, resides in Heaven.

Last Sunday, my girlfriend and I exchanged gifts at my house a day after Christmas because we were both busy with family on Christmas Day, which is completely and totally understandable.

After we exchanged gifts, we went to eat sushi at Rock N Roll Sushi in Montgomery, because it’d been a while since we had both had sushi and we like it, so why not?

Soon, after we had finished eating sushi, we headed to Oakwood Annex Cemetery in Montgomery to visit with believe it or not, not just one but two country music legends.

One who is considered by many to be the Father of Country Music, Hank Williams Sr., and his wife, Mrs. Audrey Mae Sheppard Guy Williams.

Not many people know this, but Hank and Mrs. Audrey met in Andalusia late summer of 1943, but didn’t marry until December 1944. It’s also believed that by the time they both passed away, Hank of course long before Audrey, the couple was actually divorced.

Of course, Hank Williams is best known as the father of Hank Williams Jr., but he also had an adopted daughter named Lycrecia.

Lycrecia is the daughter of Audrey Mae Sheppard Guy Williams and James Erskine Guy, her full name is Lycrecia Ann Guy Williams.

She was born August 13, 1941, but not long thereafter, Mrs. Audrey and Erskine divorced that same year and Hank adopted Lycrecia some time between 1943 and 1953, so she refers to old drifter as “daddy”.

As my girlfriend arrived at the final resting place of the two legends, I felt the wind die down and I approached the graves.

Now, these aren’t your usual small, intimate graves. These graves feature large headstones and raised concrete slabs.

I sat down on a bench next to Hank’s resting place and listened to his hit song “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” after the song ended I heard a train whistle off in the distance. It was as if Hank could hear his music being played.

Nearly 68 years after his untimely death, the spirit of old Hiram King “Hank” Williams is still searching for a way to get to that New Year’s Day 1953 show that he never made it to.

Rest In Peace, Hank and Mrs. Audrey Mae Sheppard Guy Williams, we miss you both.

Oh When the Saints Go Marching in: Mardi Gras set to Return to Birthplace in 2022

2021 was definitely weird when it came to Mardi Gras parades. As parades were halted in the City of Mobile, Alabama and several other cities around the state and nation that celebrate America’s Biggest Party that is Mardi Gras.

But rest assured, Mardi Gras will return to its motherland officially on February 11, 2022, when the Conde Cavaliers roll down Mobile’s parade Route A at 6:30pm.

On February 12, 2022, at 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., the Bayport Parading Society, Mystic DJ Riders, and the Pharaohs, Conde Explorers will bring their party down Route A.

Some of the more notable parades take place on February 18th, and 19th. As the Order of the Inca strolls down Route A at 6:30 p.m. on the 18 while the famed Mobile Mystics, Mobile Mystical Revelers, and the Mobile Mystical Friends come down Route A in the Azalea City at 2 p.m. on the 19th.

On Sunday February 27, 2022, also known as Joe Cain Day 2022, Joe Cain’s Merry Widows will begin the procession of Old Slac down Route A and finally end the procession at Cain’s resting place in Mobile’s Church Street Graveyard.

Mardi Gras 2022 behinds officially, on January 29 and ends on Fat Tuesday, March 1.

Laissez Bon Temps Rouler, Mobile!