In Loving Memory of Paula Caray, 1946-2020

Saturday afternoon, the Braves family lost a treasured member when Paula Caray, the wife of longtime Braves broadcaster, Skip Caray, passed away after a brief illness.

Paula Caray moved to Atlanta with Skip in 1976, when he was added to the Braves broadcasting team, a position he held until his death in August of 2008.

While many of us knew and loved Skip, to know Skip and to love him, was to love Paula too. Because after all, behind every great man, is an even greater woman.

In addition to being the wife of a broadcaster, she was also the stepmom to a broadcaster and his siblings.

She was the stepmother to current Atlanta Braves broadcaster, Chip Caray, Josh Caray, Shayelyn Caray Woodbery, and Cindy Caray Hines.

Rest In Peace, Ms. Paula Caray, we love you, your life and legacy will never be forgotten.

Source: Twitter.

Four Years Later: Remembering Graduation Day 2016

May 24, 2016 is a day that I will never forget. It was the day that my life really began.

I can remember standing in the halls of the Dunn-Oliver Acadome on the campus of Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama, anxiously awaiting my name to be called.

But there was something about graduation that wasn’t right. So many of my friends that were supposed to be graduating high school with me that night, weren’t able to do so because they had been called home to be with God.

Dressed in a black and gold cap and gown, mostly black, I can clearly remember being soaked in sweat by the time my name was called.

When my name was finally called, it seemed like everything went in slow motion.

As I walked across the stage with tear-filled eyes because I knew that so many of my friends were looking down on me from Heaven, I hit my chest twice and point towards the sky as if to say, “This one’s for you.”

Unlike so many others in my graduating class, I clearly knew what I wanted to do one day.

When I sat back down in my seat, I remember feeling a sense of relief.

That fall, I went off to college. I was only there for a semester before I realized that I just wasn’t meant to go college. I already had what it took.

So I decided to take the long way around it.

Three years removed from college, I have come further than I ever thought was possible, especially without a college degree.

But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Clearly God knew far before I did, that I wouldn’t be in college more than a semester.

The point of this piece is to serve as a sense of inspiration. Some are meant to go to college, others aren’t. But as long as you keep a clear mind and full heart, you will be successful in any aspect of life.

God Bless.

Dear Baseball: An Open Letter to My Long-Delayed Friend

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.

I hope to see you as soon as possible.

Yours truly,

Braxton Parmer.

Picture: Talking Chop.

Chipper Jones Assuming Position of Analyst for ESPN Wednesday Night Baseball, Replacing David Ross

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.

Photo: Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

Baseball is a Thinker’s Sport, Learn to Love the Game and the People in it

In my seven years as a baseball broadcaster, I have heard multiple times “Baseball is boring,” “Baseball is so slow,” and “I hate baseball, there’s not enough action.”

Often times when I’m behind the microphone, I get asked the question “What made you want to become a broadcaster, did you just wake up one day and decide to be a broadcaster?” I’m also asked, “How do you stay entertained during blowout games?”

My answer to the first question is, “I grew up around the game and was forced to stop playing the game by age eight from a broken finger that I sustained while bunting the ball. But God knew my future wasn’t in playing the sport, but analyzing it.”

My answer to the second question is, “In between innings during any given baseball that I am broadcasting, I can be found dancing, yes dancing, to the music that I play during that time.”

More often than not, people think that the sport doesn’t require much thinking, that it just comes natural. But in reality, it requires a ton of thinking.

You have to understand the fundamentals of the game, obviously. But then you also have to put yourself in the coaches shoes and visualize what you would do if you were the coach of the team in that particular situation.

You also have to study the game a ton. During your time off, you have to sit down and study different games.

It’s a thinker’s game, but it’s also about the people who play and coach the sport. You have to build a relationship with the coaches and players alike.

The game of baseball in my opinion, is the best sport on the face of the Earth. Not just because of my broadcasting career, but also because of the relationships that I have built with multiple coaches and players.

Learn to love the game and the people involved with it.

Braves Part Ways With On-Field Reporter, Kelsey Wingert

After four full seasons as a Braves reporter, Kelsey Wingert will not return for the 2020 season.

The 27-year-old Sugar Land, Texas native has been on the field bringing Braves fans like myself the latest injury news and much more.

Wingert attended Stephen F. Austin University and Louisiana State University for college.

Thursday, the reporter posted a statement regarding her departure on her Twitter account.

Wingert started reporting for the Braves in 2016.

Kelsey, thank you for the memories, your constant updates, your love for the game and so much more.

You will be terribly missed in the dugout. I believe I speak for all of us when I say, we love you from the bottom of our hearts.

Thank you for your willingness to work with Atlanta for the past four seasons. Braves Country won’t be the same without you.

In closing I say, you will always be welcomed to Atlanta with open arms.

Best of luck in your future endeavors.

Chop On forever.

Kelsey Wingert’s statement regarding her departure which was posted to Twitter Thursday afternoon. Source: Twitter.
Source: The Athletic.

Baseball Shuts Out Class 7A Powerhouse 2-0, Improves to (2-1) On Season

Monday night, the Class 7A Hewitt-Trussville Huskies visited Bazemore Field and left with a sour taste in their mouths.

The scoring began and ended in the bottom of the second inning when the Indians got a one-out double from the second batter who was brought home on a Doug Johnson single.

Johnson was brought home a batter later and the rest of the game was a 2-0 stalemate.

Some of you may ask “How is Hewitt-Trussville a 7A powerhouse this early in the season?” Well here’s your answer.

Last year, Jeff Mauldin, the Huskies head coach led his ball club to the semifinals, where they were swept by the Bob Jones Patriots and thus, ousted from playoff action.

In addition to that Coach Mauldin has won 7 state titles in eight years in Trussville, Alabama, including multiple Final Four appearances.

Friday night, the Indians will return to Bazemore Field to take on the Class 7A Spain Park Jaguars in a 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. doubleheader.

3B/RHP Kyle Morrison celebrates Monday night’s victory with 1B/P Dawson Fuller and 2B Noah Jones. Picture credit: Brody Huffaker.

I Asked for it, I Got it: 14 Hours of the Game I Love

Yesterday around 6:30 a.m., I woke up and got ready for opening day of the 2020 baseball season for Wetumpka High School.

I arrived at Bazemore Field around 8:45 a.m., with ‘sleep’ still in my eyes, I knew that it would be a great day. After all, it’s not the first time that I have arrived at the field with sleep in my eyes.

I made my way into the press box for the first time in 2020 and I immediately felt like I had never left. All that was on my mind was taking care of business behind the microphone.

About 9:45, a.m., with loud music playing behind me, I walked over to the right corner of the press box, removed my hat and prayed, as I have done for seven years now.

When I finished praying I looked up and pointed to the sky, as I have done for the six years. Then I proceeded to grab the microphone and test it out for the first time this year.

As I spoke into it, I felt chills run down my spine because I knew that I had been waiting on this day since the last game of the previous season was played back in April.

The day progressed and my voice never seemed to waiver. Wetumpka lost the first game of the 11 a.m and 5p.m., doubleheader, which turned out to be an 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. doubleheader.

The sun began to set just beyond the wall in centerfield. By this time I knew that we would bounce back from defeat in game one, and we did just that, to the tune of a 13-3 win over Munford High School.

Now, most people might say “14 hours worth of baseball, that’s a lot, weren’t you tired?!?” The tiredness never hit me during the games, but when I got home at 10:45 p.m., and went to bed, there was no waking me up.

I’ve always heard, “Finish what you start and sleep once it’s done.” And I did just that.

If you want something bad enough, you have to sacrifice something, even if that means sacrificing sleep.

Tomorrow afternoon, I will be back at Bazemore Field for a 4 p.m. first pitch against the Hewitt-Trussville Huskies.

I’m Coming Back Home: If a Place Could Talk, I’d Talk to This Place for Hours on End

There are very few places where I can go and feel like I’ve escaped reality for a few hours.

In fact, there is one place in particular that I go to, not just because it’s a baseball diamond, not because there’s a press box here, not because I frequent this place a lot during this time of the year. But, because it’s the place where my dream of becoming a broadcaster came true.

What’s that place, you ask? That place is Bazemore Field, named after the late, great, Coach Stokely Bazemore, a highly successful baseball coach at my alma mater during his time at Wetumpka.

All my life, my family has called me ‘Little Stokely’, not because I’m a baseball coach, definitely not because I’m good at math, but because I remember statistics just like he did and because I often sit with my left leg over my right, just like he did.

So, it’s only fitting that my dream came to fruition here. Not only did my dream come true here, I also have countless memories here ranging back before my career as a broadcaster came to be.

I’ve been behind the microphone at Bazemore Field and several other places, not just in Wetumpka over the past six years, but none of them have quite felt like home like “The Baze.”

My dad often tells me stories of his playing days under Coach Stokley Bazemore and they never get old.

Coach Bazemore had a speech impediment from what I understand, but even with that. People loved him.

I never did have the honor of meeting Coach Bazemore, but I did attend his visitation in 2008, which was in the high school Commons area, which also serves as the lunchroom.

His casket sat right in the middle if the Commons above the top step right in front of the library.

I have a feeling Stokely Bazemore and I would have become fast friends, although he probably would’ve cussed me out over my math skills, which are lacking.

In fact, the highway leading to the school and baseball field is named “Coach Stokely Bazemore Highway” in his honor.

For almost seven years, my voice has been heard through the speakers at Bazemore Field and I have no doubt that Coach is sitting in Heaven tapping his foot and doing his famous hand gesture, where his finger tips would meet each other when he was in deep thought, which chalk dust on the seat of his pants.

I like to think that he would be beaming ear-to-ear knowing that “Pahma’s” son was calling the games at the place named after him.

Pahma was his nickname for my dad, but he couldn’t say his R’s.

This coming Saturday, three days from now, I will start my seventh season as baseball broadcaster when Wetumpka kicks off the season at home against Benjamin Russell and Sweet Water at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Don’t worry coach, I’ll be home soon.

Third picture: AHSFHS.org.

You Don’t Have to Have a College Degree to Be Successful

People often try to tell us at a young age that you have to go to college in order to be successful.

But in reality, college just isn’t for some of us for one reason or another.

You see, there are millionaires and billionaires out there that don’t have a college degree.

Maybe they went to college and dropped out, maybe they never went to college, but they are still successful.

I don’t have a college degree. I’m a college dropout. Most people won’t tell you that they dropped out of college, but I will gladly tell you that, not to seek attention from you, but to prove to you that college isn’t everything.

Yes, having a college degree would open a lot more doors for me and give me opportunities that I don’t have.

But it just wasn’t for me. Yes, there are times that I wish I had stuck it out and gotten a degree but there’s also a part of me that is thankful that I dropped out of college.

I never really liked school to begin with, in fact, when I was little, I would tell people that PE was my favorite subject in school.

No, PE isn’t necessarily a “subject”, but it’s what I enjoyed the most. I wasn’t the best math student.

Even though, you can ask me anything about sports stats and I can tell you everything you need or want to know.

Success without a college degree is harder to achieve than with a college degree, but I’ve always been one to procrastinate and take the long way around things.

I promise, I’m not the only one who has ever been successful and not finished college.

Yes, it takes longer to succeed without a degree, but for some of us, that’s the way our story was written.

When I was about five or six, I already knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

When I got to college, I felt like school was just holding me back, I felt like I didn’t need science for my occupation, I didn’t need most of the courses that I took.

Not because they weren’t important, but because I already knew I wouldn’t need science to be successful in my field.

I knew what it took, and I knew I had what it took.

So I decided to drop out of college and I’ve still heard ‘You need to go to college’, or ‘Get back in school’ over the past three years.

But I knew I didn’t necessarily need a degree to be successful, because of the work I had put in at an early age.

Sometimes, God puts us in certain situations not to tear us down, but to build us up.

You see, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Michael Dell, are just a few successful people who never finished college and look at them now.

It’s not college or bust, I never really understood why people would tell us that in school.

If you already know what you want out of life and you have what it takes, why waste time and money doing something that you don’t necessarily need.

I’m a seven-year broadcaster, who dropped out of college. I started broadcasting at age 15, why would I waste time and money doing something that doesn’t fit me?

Broadcasting has taken me places over the past six years, that I never dreamed of going.

It has given me the opportunity to work alongside and meet some of the people that I idolized as a kid.

Being successful without a college degree is possible. Yes, a college degree would be nice, but it’s just a piece of paper.

You can be successful without a college degree.

Picture: Entertales.