A Man with a Heart of Gold: Baseball World Remembers Don Sutton for Genuine Personality


For as long as I can remember, Don Sutton has been a member of the Atlanta Braves broadcast team. I can clearly recall standing in front of TV as a little kid and listening to Don, along with Skip Caray and Pete Van Wieren, and later, Skip’s son Chip, call the action. 

The trio of Skip, Pete, and Don have now been reunited in Heaven and I’m sure that they will be calling the Braves’ games from the vantage point of Heaven, the greatest vantage point of them all. Not only was Don Sutton a great broadcaster, he was also a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher. 

A 1998 inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, National Baseball Hall of Fame Chairman, Jane Forbes Clark said “Don Sutton’s brilliance on the field, and his last commitment to the game that he so loved, carried through to his time as a Member of the Hall of Fame, I know how much he treasured his moments in Cooperstown, just as we treasured our special moments with him. We share our deepest condolences with his wife, Mary and his family.” 

Sutton, a Clio, Alabama native, began his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers with whom he played from 1966-1980, and again in 1988. From 1981-82 Sutton was traded from the Dodgers to the Houston Astros, from Houston he left and went to Milwaukee to join the Brewers club from 1982-84, from Milwaukee he went out to California to join the Oakland Athletics where he stayed for less than a year in 1985. Later in 1985 he moved across California and joined the Los Angeles/California Angels with whom he stayed until the end of the 1987 season. In 1988, Don returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

During his career, he won 324 games as a pitcher and earned a spot in the hallowed halls of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Following his playing days, he joined the Atlanta Braves broadcast team where he served for all but two years from 1989-2018. He spent the 2008-09 seasons with the Washington Nationals’ broadcast team. 

Tuesday afternoon, Don’s son Daron released the following statement on social media, “Saddened to share that my dad passed away in his sleep last night (Monday night). He worked as hard as anyone I’ve ever known and he treated those he encountered with great respect…and he took me to work a lot. For all these things, I am very grateful, Rest in Peace.” 

The Braves subsequently released a statement that read, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend, Don Sutton. A generation of Braves fans came to know his voice…But despite all (his) success, Don never lost his generous character or humble personality.” 

I would have to agree, every time I ever heard the voice of Don Sutton over the TV or radio, I always learned something new about the game. His knowledge for the game of baseball is what I credit for my obsession with the sport. 

While sharing his unmatched wisdom, he would often find just enough room to squeeze in one of his corny jokes about either the game the night before or a personal experience with his family in which he found great humor. I could go on and on for hours about the memories that I have and will carry with me for the rest of my time here on Earth that include Don Sutton, but I don’t want to keep you here all day. 

Even when he was on the mound, Don wanted to be a broadcaster, specifically with the Braves. In 1976, when the Dodgers were in town playing the Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Sutton, in his usual casual-but-humorous style told Pete Van Wieren: “Someday Pete, we’re going to work together.” Little did he know he had just predicted the future. 

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t wrap this up with Don’s signature sign-off call, “That’ll do it here in Atlanta, for my broadcast partners, Skip Caray and Pete Van Wieren, so long and Go Braves.” 

Rest in Peace Don, 

I love you, my brother.

(Picture: Atlanta Braves Twitter)

Returning Home: 315 Games into My Career

It’s hard to believe that in just over a month, I will begin my eighth season as a baseball broadcaster. Honestly, it seems like just the other day, I was standing against the of the home dugout at Bazemore Field when I got the opportunity to broadcast my first game, but we’ll dig back into the vault and pull that out later.

In these eight seasons, I’ve been on hand for 315 games, had you asked me eight years ago if I would be fortunate enough to still be living out my dream 315 games later, I would’ve probably told you, “This is probably just a one time deal.”

But here I am, eight years later and I haven’t been kicked out of the press box yet. And I couldn’t think of a better school to serve as a broadcaster for. I’ve been a member of this program in some capacity, for nine years.

With every passing season, every passing game, every passing minute and second, this program becomes more and more etched into my heart.

When I look back on the previous 315 games of my career, I realize just how blessed I am to live out my dream as a broadcaster. But not just any broadcaster, but the “Voice” of Wetumpka High School Baseball. Over the course of my time as a broadcaster, I’ve seen highs and I’ve seen lows, but I’ll always be thankful for everything that has come my way.

No matter where this industry takes me, I’ll always be proud to say that it all started at Bazemore Field in the small town of Wetumpka, Alabama.

Here’s to the next 315 games of my career. 315 more games worth of memories. I’ll be back home in a little over a month.

An Homage to My Broadcasting Idols

There have been many great voices that have echoed over the airwaves of radios and through the televisions to the living rooms of sports fans over the years.

Many great calls, sighs of relief, and painstakingly heartbreaking sounds of defeat.

Even though many of those great voices have since passed on to their eternal lives, sports fans everywhere still hear the voices of those legendary broadcasters and forever identify those voices with certain teams or schools.

For me, those remarkably renowned voices belong to none other than Skip and Chip Caray. This father-son duo will always stand the test of time when it comes to Atlanta Braves baseball.

Sadly, Skip Caray’s voice is no longer present with us here on Earth, but make no mistake, he is definitely giving God a play-by-play of Braves game, whether home or away.

But Chip is still with us, and he calls all Braves games. While his voice is great, it can’t compare to that of the late Skip Caray.

There’s just something about Skip’s voice that conjures up memories of years gone by inside my mind. So many of the most famous calls were described vividly by the word wizard that was Skip Caray.

One of my favorite Skip Caray calls came when the Braves won the 1995 World Series Championship at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, when Skip so elegantly described the final out.

“The wind, and the pitch here it is, swung, fly ball deep left-center, Grissom on the run…..YES! YES! YES! The Atlanta Braves have given you a championship! Listen to this crowd!!! A mob scene on the field!!!!”

What a great call. It echoes through my mind even though I wasn’t alive in 1995. I can just imagine what it must’ve been like to hear his voice describe the last out of the 1995 World Series.

What great men, what great personalities, what great voices, what great memories. Thank you, Skip and Chip Caray for so many great calls together.

Source: Reddit.com

Destined for Greatness: A Testimony of God’s Mercy

On the afternoon of December 12, 1997, at 1:50 p.m. I saw this world for the very first time, and some thought I wouldn’t live to see life outside of the four cold walls of that dark hospital.

The first few months and years of my life were spent with trips to and from hospitals. I spent most of my early childhood traveling anywhere from Montgomery, Alabama, to Birmingham, Alabama, all the way to Greenville, South Carolina.

At six weeks old, I was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy. Not long afterwards, my small intestines ruptured, I was diagnosed with gangrene, and had suffered a stroke.

Seeing everything that I had been through having just been born, the medical staff basically said I wouldn’t live much longer.

I knew that if I wanted to see the light of day outside of the four walls of that Birmingham, Alabama hospital, I had to put up a fight.

I knew that my life was at stake. I knew I had to prove the medical staff wrong. I just knew I had to fight. Nobody in that hospital had given me even the slightest chance to make it, so it was all up to me.

Thankfully, God had greater plans for my life and saw me through those early horrors. Throughout the nearly 23 years of my life, I’ve survived multiple surgeries.

Through the years, I’ve seen my fair share of tragedy and triumph. At age 16, I lost four of my friends in the same year. With one of them being my lifelong best friend.

Even though I have faced many trials and tribulations in my short time, the one thing that has remained constant is the great and power mercy of God.

He has seen me on my best and worst days and has always remained at my side. Even though I will face much more adversity in the coming years of my life, I have no doubt that God, along with my guardian angels will see that I make it through the hard times safely.

I share my testimony not as a pity on me, but in hopes that my story will touch the hearts and lives of its readers. May it serve as a source of hope and inspiration.

God Bless you all.

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.