The Phone Call: Nine Years Later

We’ve all got that one best friend that we do absolutely everything with. The friend that we can depend on for absolutely anything and everything. The one that is considered family.

For me, my best friend gained her wings nine years ago today. 3,287 days ago to be exact without my best friend. The one that I went to for literally everything, the one I could depend on for everything, my partner-in-crime, the sister I never had.

When she loved, she loved hard but if you ever crossed her, she’d make sure you knew where you stood and she definitely wasn’t one to sugarcoat anything.

She and I shared thousands of memories in her 16 years here on Earth, some of which I probably shouldn’t share here but she would want me to. I would share them all but neither I nor you have that kind of time. So I’ll just share three of them here. Regardless of how hard it is to select three from thousands of memories.

Some of my favorite memories with her include the time we went to Mardi Gras together in Mobile, Alabama, and saw a man whom we jokingly nicknamed “M&M Man,” due to his yellow M&M jacket. Another one of my favorites is the “Baby monitor,” I won’t go into detail about that one, you just had to be there to really understand how funny it really was.

Another one of my favorite memories with Jody is being the mascot while she was a cheerleader two years in a row in middle school. The memories that we made together could never be replaced.

I like to think of our friendship as a “Bonnie & Clyde” type relationship even though neither of us would ever have killed anybody. Even though, it may have crossed our minds a time or two when it came to our siblings, but we laughed because we literally never took anything at all seriously. If one of us needed the other, we knew all we had to do was pick the phone up and we’d be there for each other.

If you ever saw one of us, the other wasn’t too far behind. I can’t think of too much that we didn’t do together. The friendship that the two of us shared seemingly doesn’t exist these days.

The day before she gained her wings, I was calling a 100-inning fundraiser baseball game at Wetumpka High School that morning and she was set to take part in the Beauty and Beau pageant at the school that night.

When I arrived at the baseball field that morning, I received a text from her as I entered the press box that said “I’m comin up there with you,” to which I responded, “Come on then, I’ve already got a seat ready for you up here.”

The two of us sat in the press box at Bazemore Field together for all 100 innings of the game. That night, she competed in the Beauty and Beau pageant. Little did either of us know what would happen the next day.

February 2, 2014 started out like an ordinary day. It was the day of Super Bowl 48 between Denver and Seattle. I was in the back of the house on the computer at about 4:30pm when my mom comes running into the room from the kitchen and screams “Jody! It’s Jody!” At the time my first thought was ‘Oh God, what has she done now?’

At 5pm, my brother comes in and takes my phone from me. Something just wasn’t adding up to me. What was happening? But I didn’t think anything of it, I just continued on the computer.

Then at 6:30pm, the phone rings, it’s mon so I pick it up and say “Hello?” The next thing I heard left me speechless. Mom said “Jody’s gone. I can’t talk right now I’ll be home after a while.”

I hung the phone up and didn’t say anything. I couldn’t even believe what I had just heard. My best friend was gone. She had gained her wings.

A few days later, I was asked by her brother to be a pallbearer at her funeral on the 6th. I didn’t know if I could do it. I didn’t know if I was mentally strong enough to carry my best friend one last time. But then, I knew she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

That night was visitation. I walked up to the back door of the church and entered the fellowship hall, where I was met with hugs from everybody in her family. They escorted me into the sanctuary.

When I entered the sanctuary, I fell apart. It was real. She was gone. I walked to the front pew and sat down in front of her with tears flowing down my face.

At the funeral, the school shut down because of it and to this day, I still haven’t seen anything like it the sanctuary was completely full. When it was time for us to carry the casket out of the sanctuary I pulled down the aviator sunglasses that i had hooked to my sports coat and pointed to the sky.

I gripped the casket with tear-filled eyes, lifted it and loaded it into the hearse. I turned around afterward and was met with more hugs and words of encouragement.

All of the pallbearers rode in one truck behind the hearse, we listened to rap the whole way to the cemetery, I know, we probably shouldn’t have, but we did it anyway. After all, she would’ve laughed about it and she probably did.

When we got to the cemetery, we pulled in and parked. Then we loaded the casket onto the lowering table. Afterwards, I fell apart again and was met with more hugs.

I had just laid my best friend to rest. Jody, thank you so much for everything you ever did for me and for making sure I’m safe every day from Heaven. As bad as I wish you were still here with me, it comforts to know that our best days haven’t come yet, because they will come in Heaven one day. For now, I promise you will live on in my heart.

I know we didn’t always agree on things but I thank God every day that we never let that get between us and the friendship that we shared and still share to this day. I take the the most pride in telling people that my best friend is in the presence of God and there I too, will be when my time comes.

As long as I live, I will never forget the phone call I received on February 2, 2014. I will do whatever it takes to keep Jody’s name alive.

Rest easy beautiful, I love you more than you will ever even begin to know. You’re always going to be safe with me. Save me a seat in Heaven beside you.

Hold your loved ones tight folks. Tell them you love them.

God Bless.

A Decade Behind the Mic: Looking Back at the Past Ten Years of my Career

In 38 days, on Saturday, February 18, 2023, I will begin my 10th year as the Voice of Bazemore Field. When I look back on the past ten years I am provided with the greatest memories of my life.

I have announced just short of 550 baseball games in those 10 years. I’ve celebrated jubilantly after many monumental wins and I’ve felt the pain of losses along with the team throughout the past decade.

For many, my voice serves as a reminder that baseball season has returned and another year is about to begin. I have been blessed to have had several great mentors over the past ten years who have helped me cultivate my voice into what it is today.

The list of those mentors is far too long to list here. But if I have stepped into your press box or sat in with you during a game, just know that you have played a huge role in my career.

In 38 days, I will call the 551st baseball game of my career. There have only been a handful of games that I have missed in my career because, well, life happens, things pop up, sickness occurs. But as long as I have breath in my body, I can promise you, I will be inside of the press box at Bazemore Field, providing commentary for those in attendance.

Let’s get to work.

Living For Him: 25 years of Walking by His Grace and Standing on His Promises

It all began on the afternoon of December 12, 1997 at 1:50pm, I saw the world for the first time. To see me now, you probably wouldn’t know that I’ve stared death in the face and denied it.

You see, at three weeks old my small intestines had ruptured a few days before arriving at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham from Montgomery. At six weeks old, doctors diagnosed me with mild cerebral palsy. Shortly after that it was discovered that I had gangrene that was contained in knots from my intestines having ruptured.

While I was in Birmingham, Alabama, where I spent the majority of my early life, they gave me little to no chance of survival. They told my family that I probably wouldn’t make it out of those four walls of that cold, dark hospital.

At this point in time it was all a waiting game. and I was clinging to life I had also suffered a stroke, all within the early part of my life.

The medical staff had all but written me off. Basically telling my family to prepare to be called in for one final goodbye. They had thrown in the towel on my life. When little did they know, God had bigger and better plans for me. Also within my near 25 years on this earth I have suffered seizures, but because of His mercy and faithfulness, on Monday, December 12, 2022, I will celebrate 25 years of living for Him, walking with Him, and standing on His Promises.

I share this in hopes of reaching somebody and leading them to have a closer relationship with Him. He led me through the fire, imagine what He can do for you.

God Bless,

Braxton Parmer.

Have Some Class, Football Fans

Nearly 24 hours ago, my Tennessee Volunteers saw their College Football Playoff hopes dashed from South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia, 63-38, and while we didn’t play up to par, we’ve still had more success this season than anybody expected of us.

But that’s not my reason behind writing this piece. In the past 24 hours I’ve seen fans of all college football teams throwing proverbial jabs at us Tennessee fans and our program, and rightfully so.

But there’s an invisible line between celebrating and taunting. While most of the fans jabbing at us are mostly our rivals. Mostly Alabama fans, who were celebrating another team doing what they couldn’t do, beat Tennessee.

While those responses are expected, there were some that weren’t warranted. With 11:28 remaining in the fourth quarter, Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker went down with a torn left ACL which will force him to miss the rest of the year.

Sunday night, while on social media, i ran across a post about Hooker’s injury and I went down the comment section where I saw an Alabama fan had commented “Roll Tide”. As if they were celebrating his injury.

College football is exactly that, college students living out their dreams. If you feel the need to celebrate another one’s injury, You are a sick person.

Have some class football fans, these are young men and women living out their dreams.

To Hendon Hooker,

We’ve got your back. Go Vols!

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.

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)

Memorial Day 2022: All Gave Some, Some Gave All

As I sit here tonight, I’m reminded of what Memorial Day stands for and represents. Memorial Day is a day set aside each year to remember those brave American heroes, men and women alike, that gave their lives for this country.

You see, Memorial Day isn’t about the barbecuing, parties, lakes, or anything other than remembering those that didn’t make it out of those bullet-riddled battlefields.

If you ever think that we don’t live in the greatest country ever known to man, there are 624 acres out in Arlington, Virginia, that say differently. They call it Arlington National Cemetery. There you will find more than 415,000 reasons to be thankful to live in this nation.

The men and women there and all over this country didn’t have to fight for us. But they did and they gave their lives so that we might live freely for the rest of our days. Tomorrow, take a moment to reflect and remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom for you and I.

Happy 70th Birthday, George Strait

It all began 70 years ago in southeastern Texas town of Poteet, Texas, when George Harvey Strait Sr., was born to John Byron Strait and Doris Couser Strait.

He didn’t listen to much country music at all growing up in Pearsall, Texas, which is southwest of San Antonio, and his parents divorced while he was still in school, and George and his older brother Buddy were raised by their father, a junior high math teacher.

During high school, Strait was left speechless by seemingly matchless beauty of Norma Voss, with whom he would elope shortly after graduation, before signing for a stint in the United States Army.

He discovered his love for country music while stationed on the islands of Hawaii in 1971 and broke into the country scene a decade later in 1981.
He wrote the song “Check Yes or No,” for his wife Norma. In the song he recalls the first time he laid eyes on her on the playground in third grade.

Over the course of his storied and highly-touted country music career, the Texas native has more than 60 number one hits. Those hits include “Amarillo By Morning,” “How Bout Them Cowgirls,” “The Fireman,” “Cowboys Like Us,” “The Cowboy Rides Away,” and “Write This Down”.
Happy 70th Birthday, George. We love you brother.

Cody Johnson is Saving Country Music

I think it’s pretty safe to say, that Cody Daniel Johnson of Huntsville, Texas, is the future of country music. Not only is he the future of the genre, but he’s the reason there is still hope for real country music. I’m not talking about the kind of “country” that uses hip-hop beats or electronic drums.

I’m talking about the blue-collar country music. The kind that Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash,Willie Nelson and so many others have sang about over the years.

I’m not talking about the kind where people claim to be “cowboys” that seems to be the trend these days, I’m talking about an ex-bull rider turned country musician. The kind that misses songs, not because his voice cracked, but because his cows got out on his Texas ranch, so he’s backstage telling his wife how to get them back. The kind of country where people lived the lives the sang about.

I’m not talking about the politics of country music that pushes people to feel a certain way, I’m talking about the kind of country music that still believes in God, Country, and Family. The kind that will stop at nothing to give the glory to God in front of 10 thousand people.

That’s the kind of country that Cody Johnson is. He’s pure, blue-collared, down-home country. He doesn’t pretend he’s perfect. I’m fact, he’ll stand onstage and tell you he’s the most imperfect Christian in the venue.

He’s seemingly the only hope that real country has. Get a good look folks, this man is one of a kind.