Folsom Prison Breakout: The Dog Named After The Man in Black

Monday was shaping up to be a normal day in my life, I got home Monday afternoon and sat down on the couch and was gearing up to listen to the Braves as they were set to take on National League East Division rival, New York Mets.

I noticed dad wasn’t home, but I didn’t think much of it, I assumed he had simply gone to the store or somewhere like that.

About 45 minutes passed and in comes dad holding a leash, I could hear what sounded like a dog walking. So, I got up from the couch and saw a beautiful black dog in tow with dad.

I asked if the dog had a name, and dad said “No, I don’t think so.” Immediately following that statement, I began to think of a name for my new four-legged friend.

I thought about it all night and all day for the next day and a half, and finally on Wednesday afternoon, as I was looking at my new friend’s shiny black coat.

I’ve always been one that enjoys music, particularly old school country, such as Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Sr., Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, etc.

As I glanced at his coat, it reminded me of Johnny Cash’s trademark black attire. I immediately sent dad a text and said “I believe I have a name for him, ‘Cash.’”

Dad then proceeded to walk through the door after returning from the store, and I mentioned it to him again, because I knew that he hadn’t checked his phone yet.

He said “Ask your brother,” so I went to my brother’s room and proposed the name to him and he responded “Sure.”

So, I reported back to dad and he said “We’ll then, his name is Cash.”

As soon as I figured his name out, I turned to Cash and said “Welcome home, you old ‘Man in Black.’”

Ever since then, Cash has stuck by my side, only leaving my side when I go to work. He seems to be warming up at a rapid pace, playing with toys, licking my face, ignoring the pesky Jack Russell we have that doesn’t particularly know what to think of her new “roommate”.

Because Cash knows that she’s harmless, I’ve tried to tell our Jack Russell that Cash is also harmless, but she doesn’t seem to think so.

They say everything new takes time to get used to, but I’d say Cash is getting used to things easily.

He also seems to be glad to finally be free of “Folsom Prison.”

Everywhere I go, I have a little black four-legged shadow now. So, if you see me and you see a black shadow, just know that’s the Dog in Black.

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.

It’s Time To Turn Off the TV and Turn Toward The Bible

Ever since this pandemic started several months ago, I haven’t watched the news, I’ve avoided watching tv as much as possible.

Every night before drifting off to sleep, I try to read the Bible. Recently, I read Isiah 41:10 and it got me thinking, you know, we may act like sports need to hurry up and resume, but they can wait.

Just yesterday, a friend of mine posted on Snapchat a picture that read “Sometimes, you are delayed because God knows that there is a storm headed right in your direction.” I can’t think of a more fitting picture to post during times like these.

There is light at the end of this pitch black tunnel that we are all in right now. Someday, we will be giving hugs again to the ones that we love and shaking hands with friends.

There will be a day when we don’t have to be six feet apart. There will be a day when we go back to work.

Concerts will return, sports will return, and everything will return to normal, but it won’t happen on our timing, it will happen on God’s timing. Be patient and trust Him.

God Bless and be safe.

A Dog’s Heavenly Journey

It’s always tough losing a loved one, especially pets. Even though there may be times when we sin, those God-sent four-legged animals love us as though we have never committed a sin in our life.

Sunday night, I lost my pet. I didn’t just lose my pet, I lost my friend, my four-legged brother, my companion.

As he crossed the bridge from temporary life into eternal life, I was broken inside. I didn’t know why he had to go but I knew exactly where he was going.

My four-legged brother, friend and companion was heading straight to Heaven. As much as it hurt to see him go, I was at peace knowing that he was no longer in pain,

For he was heading to be in The House of the Lord. He was heading for eternal life. In his final hours, I saw him in pain and desperation. As I looked into his yellow eyes during those heart-wrenching hours, I saw little tears being shed from the struggle that he was going through.

He hadn’t wagged his tail all day, but when St. Peter opened the pearly gates and my four-legged brother took the first of many steps on the streets of gold, he began to finally wag his tail, as if he was telling us he was in The House of God. He was finally at peace with one paw in the Hand of God.

Pets are often thought of as God’s sinless creatures, which is the absolute truth. If you have a dog, or any pet for that matter, hug them, feed them the table scraps, feed them half of everything you eat.

Do unto God’s creatures as you would hope they would do unto you,

God Bless.

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.

An Open Letter to My Best Friend Who Left This World Way too Soone

We all have that one friend that we do everything with, but few people can say they have a friend that was there with them through the good, bad and indifferent times.

For me, that friend was Jody Sanford, we grew up in diapers together some 22 years ago.

We had a bond that was somewhat similar to Bonnie and Clyde, except we didn’t kill anybody, even though I know that went through our heads on multiple occasions with siblings that drove us crazy, but we never killed anybody.

We stuck by each other’s sides through hell and back. When one of us needed something, we knew that we could just pick up the phone and dial the other’s number and either one of us would be there in a matter of minutes.

I’m almost positive she’s the only reason I did my school work and graduated high school.

Jody was more than my best friend, or my partner-in-crime, she was the sister I never had.

When I was too busy talking in class to do my work, she’d turn around and say “You’d better get busy before I tell Mrs. Ellen.”

She said that quite often, in fact. Most of the time, I would just roll my eyes at her and get busy doing my work and she’d laugh and say “That’s what I thought.”

Through the years, we shared countless memories, like Mobile Mardi Gras, where we saw ‘M&M man’ a man that was dressed in a yellow M&M jacket waiting to catch beads and whatever else they threw his way.

We shared many laughs like the baby monitor incident at Mardi Gras one year, I won’t go into detail, because words just wouldn’t do that baby monitor justice.

We shared serious times too; believe it or not.

I don’t know how she managed to keep me in line as often as she did, I can barely keep myself in line.

But sadly, on February 2, 2014, my best friend, partner-in-crime, the sister that I never had, gained her wings.

I remember that day vividly, perhaps too vividly.

My mom was in the kitchen cooking on the stove and literally dropped everything she was doing ran to the back, where I was on the computer, and grabbed her shoes.

When I asked what she was doing, all she could say “Jody! It’s Jody!” At the time, I didn’t understand why she was running, because the last time I saw Jody, the day before at the ball field, she was fine.

Then, an hour or so later, my brother came and took my cellphone because my parents told him to.

I didn’t understand that either, I wasn’t grounded, I hadn’t done anything wrong.

Then another hour passed, still nothing, about 30 minutes passed and the house phone rang, I picked it up and answered it.

Everybody in the room on the other side of the phone was silently crying.

Mom answered and said “Jody’s gone,” I was speechless. But when I finally processed what had just been said I responded “WHAT?!?” Then mom said “I can’t talk right now, I’ll tell you when I get home.”

When mom returned, she explained to me that God had called Jody home to be with Him.

All I could do was sit in my room and cry for the rest of the night.

Later that week, I was called to the counselor’s office at school, I didn’t understand this either, I didn’t need counseling.

But I didn’t ask questions, I just went to the counselor’s office. I was unaware of what was happening, all I knew was that I had just lost my best friend.

When I entered the office and sat down, her brother, Jeremy was sitting there also. He hadn’t been at school all week, and understandably so.

But I was still confused. Before I knew it, there were six of us sitting in the office with Jeremy and after a while, after shedding several tears, he asked us one by one to serve as pallbearers at her funeral.

He asked me first, because I was the first one on the list. I broke down, unsure of how to feel. After a while all of us went to the baseball locker room. I talked to Jeremy and the head baseball coach about it.

I wasn’t sure I could carry my best friend’s body to its final resting place, but then I realized, I’m not going to be alone.

I didn’t need to do this for myself, I needed to do this for Jody, because she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

So I accepted the offer, hugged him and fell apart. Jeremy then said “Hold your head up brother, she’s not hurting anymore, she’s happy again.”

That night, we went to her visitation, now, keep in mind that I’m not big on visitations or funerals because that’s not the way I want to remember them.

Jody’s mom and dad met me inside the church and escorted me to the chapel, where her body was, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it alone.

When I reached the chapel, I looked up and saw her colorless body lying there, arms crossed and eyes shut.

I began to cry again, I didn’t understand why this had to happen to her so soon.

The next day was the funeral, we arrived at the church at about 8:30 that morning because my brother and I served as two of the six pallbearers.

We entered the chapel and were met with what seemed like a thousand hugs.

It was 8:30am and the funeral didn’t start until about 11am. But this gave me time to realize that it wasn’t a dream.

Around 10:30, close to 1,000 people came into the chapel, heads hung, tears falling and hugging each other.

Then before I knew it, the funeral director motioned for us to stand, approach the casket and carry the body to the hearse.

When I reached the hearse with the body, and loaded her onto the loading rack in the back, I fell apart again.

I was met with several hugs, the one I remember the most came from somebody that had known both of us ever since middle school when I served as mascot and Jody, a cheerleader.

I tightly gripped her and pulled her in, she laid her head on my chest, looked up at me and said “You are one of the strongest people I know.”

When we reached the cemetery, all six of us, grabbed the casket and placed it on a table and then stood around the casket and table for prayer.

When the prayer concluded, I fell apart and I was once again met by the person that met me in the church parking lot after I loaded the casket into the hearse.

She dried my tears and said “Look at me, she’s happy now,” and hugged me tight and then wiped her tears on my blue blazer.

Dear Jody, thank you for always keeping me in line, laughing with and at me, loving me unconditionally, being my confidant, my shoulder to cry on, my partner-in-crime.

Thank you for forcing me to do my school work, the disagreements, the memories, but most of all, thank you for being the sister that I never had and having my back no matter what.

I promise I will continue to stand up for you as long as I live.

You’re safe with me.

See you on the other side beautiful, I love you.

Your best friend,

Braxton Parmer.

Five Minutes of Prayer: Wetumpka, Alabama, One Year Later

This time a year ago, i was unsure of what to expect, meteorologists had been talking all week about possible tornadoes in Central Alabama.

They mentioned that they could be life-threatening, so I was preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.

That afternoon, the skies were covered in clouds that you would only see in a horror movie. I grabbed the dogs, my brother, and his girlfriend, and we sprinted to the hall bathroom.

My dad wasn’t home, he was eating at a local sports bar called “Coaches Corner” or just “Coaches” to the locals.

Just as the three of us and the dogs were able to get the bathroom door closed, the wind began to pick up, throwing things around outside.

It was at this time, that I was sure that the tornado would hit our house, so I did what any Christian would do, I closed my eyes and began to pray.

I prayed to God for about five minutes, I prayed for my hometown, my family, co-workers, and friends. But most of all I prayed that He would keep us all safe and unharmed.

After five minutes of praying, I opened my eyes, and everything was eerily silent and still.

The maximum wind speed just five minutes earlier was 135 miles-per-hour, the damage path length, 18.18 miles.

One historic church in the heart of downtown was, for the most part, completely destroyed.

Another church just a few yards away, had it’s steeple swallowed in the wind, the senior center was demolished, and so much more was destroyed, including homes.

But by the Grace of God, nobody was killed and only four people were injured.

Be thankful for what you have and the history that your hometown has. It can all be changed in just five minutes.

Picture: First Presbyterian Church of Wetumpka built back in 1836.

Picture: God appears in the clouds above First Presbyterian as people pray. This was one of very few things left of this historic church.

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.

Music is the Best Medicine

It all started back in May of 2014, I went through a lot of tough times back in 2014, and my friend was having her 16th birthday party somewhere around the 15th or 20th of that month and I had heard that a rock band called Framing The Red, out of Jackson, Mississippi, would be playing the party.

At the time, I only knew one of their songs and that is because I looked them up on YouTube. Besides that one song, I really didn’t know what to expect but I wanted to celebrate my friend’s 16th birthday with her.

When I got to the party, I could hear the music from outside of the venue, I knew the music must be good if I could hear it before even reaching the door.

I walked in and greeted my friend and several other friends that were at the party. As the night grew older, the music got better and I’m so glad that I went to the party because this band has become some of my best friends.

Unlike some bands, they play a majority of original with a few mixed in just to keep your attention.

As I was leaving the party that night, each member shook my hand and introduced themselves to me.

They have had a few changes over the years, but they haven’t let that slow them down at all. These guys play somewhere around 200 to 250 shows a year all across the country, from New York to California and everywhere in between. Thank you, Paul Cox for introducing me to this band. They definitely changed my life.

If you haven’t heard them, I highly recommend you go look them up on YouTube and everywhere else. If you like Southern Rock, you won’t be disappointed. Music truly is the best medicine.

Nice to See You Again, Old Friend

About two weeks ago, I was heading to Alpharetta, Georgia and I passed the place where I spent a large amount of my time growing up, Turner Field, now known as Georgia State Stadium, since it is the home of the Georgia State Panthers football. I still call it Turner Field, though, because that’s what I’ve always known it as. I witnessed many victories inside those friendly confines and very few losses. In fact, a few months ago, I did the math, and I realized that I had been to 42 Braves games, 41 of which game at Turner Field. The Braves home record when I attend is 31-10. I like to think of myself as the Braves ‘good luck charm’. Because they almost never lose when I’m in attendance. As I passed the stadium, I was suddenly taken back to my childhood, I felt the thrill that I felt as a little kid, I felt like a kid in a candy store all over again. I’ve seen so many Braves greats take the field there. I was taken back to when I was little and we would pull up to the stadium and I would blurt out the ESPN theme song, I could hear Crazy Train over the PA system in my head as I passed it. So many great memories were made there. I never visited the stadium when I didn’t thoroughly enjoy myself. It was like I was a little kid again for that split-second. So many life-long friends were made inside those four walls. I haven’t been inside SunTrust Park yet, but I did pass it as I was headed home that weekend and I plan to visit in 2020. Nice to see you again, old friend.