ttended my last game at Turner Field on July 13, 2012, when the Braves took on their National League East division-rival, New York Mets, out of Flushing, New York, a suburb of New York City.
The starting pitchers that night were Dillon Gee from the New York Mets and the Braves handed the ball to Auburn, Alabama’s Tim Hudson. Hudson is a 1997 graduate of Auburn University, where he was teammates with that night’s starting catcher, David Ross. Together in college, those two won the College World Series during Hudson and Ross’ Senior year of 1997.
When I was heading to Turner Field that afternoon, I could feel my chest getting tighter the closer we got to the field.
I knew that this would most-likely be the very last time I ever stepped foot into the place where I fell in love with the game of baseball.
That night it rained for three hours before the game ever got started and it was 12:30 before the game got started.
We started until the end of the sixth inning. Fittingly, Chipper Jones had the last at-bat I ever witnessed at Turner Field.
But this was much different than the first time I ever saw him at the plate in person, he didn’t get out.
In fact, he sent a ball deep into the Atlanta night, over the right-center field wall. He must’ve known I was in the stands, because otherwise, he would’ve probably gotten out as was often the case.
The Braves ended up winning the game 8-5.
Meeting Tim Hudson Five Years Later:
On April 7, 2017, my uncle, who coached my cousin’s travel ball team, called me to tell me that they would be playing a team out of Auburn, Alabama, called the Colt 45’s, and it was coached by Tim Hudson.
When he told me this, I knew immediately that I would be in attendance just to see the game.
But, I didn’t know it would result in me meeting the last pitcher I ever saw start at Turner Field face-to-face and having a conversation with him.
On April 8, 2017, I woke up early, my uncle picked me up and we headed to Lagoon Park in Montgomery, Alabama.
As I approached the field, I could see Tim was carrying his San Francisco Giants warmup bag, for those of you that aren’t familiar with him, he won a World Series title in San Francisco in 2014.
He was busy when I approached, so I waited until he wasn’t busy to get his attention. After his team had taken the field for pregame warmups, he approached the dugout that I was standing beside, I took this opportunity to yell “Tim!” And then motioned for him to come over to me. He did so politely.
I mentioned to him that my goal was to become a Major League Baseball broadcaster one day and then he and I talked a few more minutes, I asked him “Would you mind if I got a picture with you?” He responded “Absolutely brother, come on.” Afterwards I told him that he was the last pitcher a game at Turner Field that I attended, he said “Is that the game when it rained forever?” I said “It was, y’all didn’t start playing until 12:30 a.m., he responded “That’s it.” He and I both shared a laugh because we both knew how that turned out for the New York Mets, whom both of us hated. The last thing I asked him was “Who gave you the nickname ‘The Bulldog’ he smiled and said, “Two people are responsible for that nickname, Chipper and Bobby Cox, Chipper started it first because he said I went after hitters like a bulldog and after a few weeks, the skipper only called me “Bulldog”. I thanked him and before I sat down I said “Go Braves!” He said “Chop on, my brother.”
As many of you know, I’ve always been a huge Braves fan and I’m devastated that the Braves didn’t start on time, but that doesn’t mean they won’t start at all.
For 22 years, I’ve very rarely missed a game, and I don’t plan on missing any this year once they take the field.
Friday afternoon, the MLB announced that it had come to an agreement to shorten the 2020 season to what I assume would be anywhere from 125 to 82 games, but they won’t start until the mass gathering and travel bans are lifted.
While I’m anxious for the start of the season, I know that the Braves and the MLB have the safety and well-being of their fans, players, staff etc. as a first priority.
I’ve always heard good things come to those who wait. While I never thought I would see the day that anything like this took place, I’ve seen it.
As fans, all that we can do now is wait and ride this chaotic proverbial storm out. Baseball will be back at some point in 2020.
While we don’t know exactly when that will be, we will wait as long as we have to because when it does return, that will make it just that much sweeter.
They aren’t doing this for spite, they are doing this for the safety and well-being of millions of people.
As much as I miss Braves baseball, I understand completely why they are doing this.
They are doing this because they genuinely care about their fans, players, staff etc. and I appreciate the fact that they are taking these necessary precautions.
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.
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.
Hank Aaron the former Milwaukee Brave and Atlanta Brave, was born on February 5, 1934, in Mobile, Alabama.
Henry Louis ‘Hank’ Aaron, later known as ‘Hammerin’ Hank’ wasn’t born into wealth. In fact, in a podcast that I listened to recently, Aaron stated, “My parents couldn’t afford to buy a bat, they couldn’t afford to buy a ball. And so, actually, we did everything we could in order to pretend like we were playing baseball.”
Aaron stated that he and his brothers would go out into the yard with rags that were rolled up tight and throw them to each other while using a broomstick as a bat.
They would do the same with coke bottle caps.
Mobile, Alabama wasn’t the safest of places in the 1940s when Hank was growing up. In fact, according to Aaron, there were no roads, nothing but little farm roads’ he explained.
Mobile wasn’t nearly as big as it is today back when little Henry Aaron was growing up just outside of Mobile.
Even though, he grew up just a few miles outside of Mobile, he still claims Mobile, Alabama as his hometown.
Hank Aaron stated in the podcast that “Actually, I heard about it, from sleeping in the bed at night, because the Mobile Bears were farm club of the Brooklyn Dodgers, in Mobile.”
Aaron continued “I could hear the game on the radio next door, because a friend of mine would have his radio tuned to the Mobile Bears. You know I didn’t have enough money to go to game so I just listened to it.”
Little did he know at the time, that he would one day be considered one of the greatest home run hitters of all-time.
As Hank’s career was beginning, his hero, Jackie Robinson’s career was winding down.
But luckily for Hank, he was able to play against Jackie Robinson on multiple occasions.
Aaron, once a little kid from a poor family in 1940s Mobile, Alabama, became Major League Baseball’s all-time home run record holder on April 8, 1974 at the age of 40-years-old.
That day, Hank passed George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth’s record of 714, when he sent career home run 715 over the left-center field wall.
Aaron would end his career with 755 home runs. He would hold onto the home run crown until 2007, when Barry Bonds passed him by hitting his 756th home run.
That, of course, was with the help of PEDs, so in my mind, Hank Aaron is still the greatest home run hitter of all-time.
Today, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron still serves with the Atlanta Braves as the team’s Senior Vice President. Happy 86th Birthday, Hank, we love you.