Happy Birthday In Heaven, Tyler Skaggs

Tyler Skaggs, the late Los Angeles Angels pitcher, would’ve turned 28-years-old today. The southpaw from California passed away earlier this month, on July 2 at the all-too-young age of 27. Skaggs was known for his energy, infectious personality, his nasty curveball that seemed to float to the plate and curve in at the last moment. Friday night, the Angels honored Tyler and they did it in a big, big way. Skaggs mother, Debbie, threw out the first pitch and the Angels followed that by tossing a no-hitter in a 13-0 win over Mariners. Not only did they throw a no-hitter, they did it all wearing 45. The players and coaches alike wore 45 Friday to pay tribute to the southpaw the day before his birthday. Tyler Skaggs had a hand in that performance, without a doubt. Happy 28th Birthday in heaven, Tyler “Swaggy” Skaggs.

Celebrating 80 Years of A Dear Friend: Atlanta Braves’ Usher, Walter Banks

On July 1, 1939, Walter Banks was introduced to the world. Walter has been an usher for the Atlanta Braves for 54 years. Banks joined the Braves security staff in the offseason 1965, just in time for the team’s transition from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Atlanta, Georgia. Since 1966, Banks has been a mainstay at Braves’ home games, attended over 4,000 games and shaken the hands of approximately 400,000 thousand fans, who ended up being a friend of his by the end of the night. I am one of those lucky 400,000. Back in August of 2012, August 13, 2012 to be exact, my dad and I took a trip to Atlanta to see Braves play the San Diego Padres in Chipper Jones’ last season. I wasn’t expecting to meet an usher that had been with the Braves for 46 years at the time. We got to Turner Field that day as soon as the gates opened and we needed help finding our seats, six rows away from the Braves’ dugout along the first baseline. So we approached this nice-looking, black gentleman and asked him for assistance in helping us find our seats. He shook our hands and showed us to our seats, at the time, I had no clue how long he had been with the Braves. A few minutes later, he made sure to stop by our seats to check on us, we told him we were fine. He then asked us “Where are you from?” We replied: “Montgomery, Alabama.” Because very few people know where Wetumpka is. He then asked dad: “When were you born?” I’m sure that dad didn’t know how to take that, but he replied “1968.” And then came the knowledge. He said “I’ve been with the Braves since they moved to Atlanta in 1966.” I was mesmerized. So I asked him, “Were you there the night Hank Aaron hit his 755th home run?” He replied: “I was I’ve never seen anything like it, that night was incredible.” At this point, I was speechless. Then he asked me “What year were you born?” I replied: “1997.” He enthusiastically said “You were born two years after we won the only World Series title in Atlanta Braves history, right across the road at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.” (The stadium had since been turned into a public parking lot for Braves fans). After a while, he asked “Who is your favorite player?” Without hesitation, I said “Chipper Jones.” He said “Chipper has been a member of the Atlanta Braves since 1993 and will someday be in the Hall of Fame.” A while passed and he said “Hang on, I’ll be right back, stay here.” I noticed that he had gone down to the Braves dugout, but the Braves were taking batting practice so I wasn’t sure what he must be doing. He came back after a minute and said “I got you something.” With his hand behind his back. I was curious to see what he had gotten me. He took his hand out from behind his back and in his hand was a baseball from the Braves dugout. I thanked him and then asked for a picture with him. He obliged immediately, saying “Absolutely!” I still have the ball on a shelf and I also still have the picture of myself with Walter. I chose to write this today because tonight, the Braves are giving away Walter Banks bobbleheads to honor the beloved usher of 54 seasons. If you ever get the chance, go to.a Braves game in Atlanta and ask for Walter Banks, you won’t be disappointed. Happy 80th Birthday, my dear friend, Walter! Braves Country loves you!

On The Road Again: Willie Nelson Is Still Touring at 86

Most of the time, when people get into their 80’s, especially mid-to-late 80s, people start slowing down a little as they become somewhat of a homebody and in some cases, they lose memory as Alzheimer’s starts to set in along with dementia. But for one country music icon, that’s far from the case. On this day 86 years ago in 1933, the world welcomed in what some may call a rebel, an outlaw or an icon. But my favorite description of Abbott, Texas native, Willie Nelson, is an iconic national treasure. His golden voice echoes through arenas and venues all over the world. One of the venues is at the historic Grand Ole Opry. Nelson started singing in 1956 as a young man in his early 20’s. However, he didn’t break onto the national scene until 1972. People still haven’t discovered Willie’s to living, but whatever it is, it’s working as he is still touring states and venues at age 86. I saw him in concert in Montgomery last November and that concert was the best concert I’ve ever had the opportunity to attend. Here’s to 86 years of the iconic treasure that is Willie Nelson.