The Last of The Bulldog: My Last Trip to Turner Field and Met “The Bulldog” Five Years Later

Saying Goodbye to Turner Field

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.”

Image Source: Wikipedia
Image Source: Call to the Pen

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 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.

Remembering Sports Broadcasters/Journalists Who Gained their Wings in 2019

2019 was a rough year to be a sports broadcaster and journalist, I can’t remember a more deadly year surrounding one industry.

Sure, there have been more deadly years in the past, but I can’t remember when they were.

Maybe it’s because I am still in shock at the amount of sports broadcasters and journalists whom were welcomed into heaven over the past 365 days.

2019 started out pretty smooth, and then on May 25, 2019, things took a turn for the worst when then-Auburn Baseball, Basketball, and Football Voice, Rod Bramblett, and his wife Paula were killed by a teenage driver who was under the influence at the time of the crash and topped out well over the speed limit.

Rod was just 53, while Paula was 52.

On December 24, 2019, ESPN’s Edward “Ed” Aschoff passed away after a brief battle with pneumonia at the young age of 34.

On December 28, 2019, Louisiana Sports Journalist, Carley McCord, the daughter-in-law of LSU OC, Steve Ensminger, was killed in a plane crash in Lafayette, Louisiana while on her way to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, to watch the Tigers in the College Football Playoffs Semifinals against Oklahoma.

McCord was just 30-years-old.

While 2019 was a trying year for sports journalists and broadcasters like myself, I hope 2020 takes it lighter on this industry too many people with bright futures in this industry were lost in 2019.

God Bless.

Pictures: Daily Mail, Saturday Tradition and The Wrap).

The Iron Bowl: A Rivalry Like None Other

We all know what the Iron Bowl is so there’s no need to explain it, but in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 83 years, I’ll explain what the Iron Bowl is.

It needs no introduction, it’s the one time a year where families can’t get along, friends become enemies and enemies become friends.

And it’s all because of one thing around the State of Alabama, bragging rights. People talk about this game 24/7, 365 and everybody across the state is tuned into the same game at the same time, every year.

It’s all the bad blood between these two bitter rivals that makes this game what it is. Not to mention the amount of memorable moments from this game that have stood the test of time.

Plays like, “The Kick Six”, “The Camback”, “Bo Over the Top” and Van Tiffin’s kick 34 years ago in 1985 among many, many others.

Teams often claim to have a better rivalry than Alabama, Auburn and the Iron Bowl, but the Iron Bowl is quite clearly the most-bitter, most-historic rivalry in the nation, and anybody from the South will tell you that same thing if you ask them.

Sure, there are rivalry games that have been played more than the Iron Bowl, but when it comes to historic moments, nothing comes close to touching the Iron Bowl.

These two teams simply hate each other, absolutely no love is lost, it’s the one game a year where you can throw everything including the kitchen sink out of the window as you travel down the road, so you can watch it shatter.

Over the past 83 years the Iron Bowl has emanated from several different places and cities around the state. Those places include, Birmingham’s Legion Field, Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl, Tuscaloosa’s Bryant-Denny Stadium, and Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.

But something will be a little different this year, for the first time since 2002, the iconic golden voice of Rod Bramblett won’t be heard over the radio waves.

Instead, Rod’s best friend Andy Burcham will have the call alongside Stan White on the Auburn Sports Network.

This game is bound to have its own historic moments I’m sure, so prepare yourselves, we’ll have our hands full Saturday at 2:30pm CT in the 84th Iron Bowl. Picture: AL.com.

Here’s to Seven Years of Living My Dream

It’s still so hard to believe that in less than three months, I will crank the speakers up and let my voice be heard at Bazemore Field in Wetumpka for the seventh year.

If you know me, you know how many hours I practiced announcing when I was little, it’s the only way that I could be around sports due to the fact that I didn’t play sports for long when I was a kid.

I played baseball until I was eight, because I broke my finger bunting a baseball when I was seven.

From that my moment on, I knew that the only way that I could see my dream flourish would be to pick up a microphone.

Over the past six years, I’ve had the honor and privilege of announcing for numerous then-future MLB draftees, announced in the AHSAA Class 6A State Baseball Playoffs, visited several colleges, and so much more.

In 2020, I plan on making many more new, unforgettable memories and sarcastic remarks, behind the microphone at Bazemore Field.

Here’s to seven years of living my dream, the best is yet to come.

Passing The Headset: Andy Burcham to Assume Duties as Voice of the Auburn Tigers

Just after mid-day on Monday, the news broke around the State of Alabama that Andy Burcham, the longtime color analyst for the late Rod Bramblett had been named the new ‘Voice of the Auburn Tigers’. While I’m sure that this move had to be a tough one on Burcham, it just seems fitting. As Rod and Andy had just celebrated 25 years of broadcasting Auburn Baseball games alongside each other a few weeks before Rod and Paula Bramblett’s untimely and sudden death. Andy has been in the broadcasting industry since 1988. The 2019-2020 season will mark Burcham’s 32nd year in the industry. Personally, I don’t think I could’ve taken the job under these circumstances, but somebody has to do it and I know without a doubt, that Rod is smiling down from heaven knowing that his longtime friend and colleague, Andy Burcham, has been selected to assume the role that Bramblett held for so many years. While you will never be able to replace the silky, southern voice of Rod Bramblett, now is the time for Andy Burcham to cement his legacy alongside Bramblett and Jim Fyffe as ‘The Voice of the Auburn Tigers’ and Rod wouldn’t have it any other way. In a sense, Rod is simply passing the headset to his right-hand man, Andy Burcham.