All is Right With the World: Baseball is Back

For fans like myself, who grew up around and love the game of baseball. After waiting all offseason plus four more months.

You add that up and you’ll get 267 days of boredom, waiting, impatience, and so much more.

But for me, all is right considering that the Braves are off to a (2-1) season after the first series of the season.

Following a well-pitched 1-0 loss on Opening Day Friday, Atlanta found the New York Mets weakness and pulled out two consecutive wins.

Saturday, the Braves were literally down to their last strike, but then game newcomer Marcell Ozuna, who blasted a game-tying home run and then Dansby Swanson scored the game-winning run in the top of the tenth.

On Sunday, the Braves brought out what we’ve been waiting all offseason to see, a 17-hit, 14-run outburst to cruise past the Mets 14-1.

Tonight the Braves will take on the Tampa Bay Rays for two games in Tampa, Florida, and the Rays will follow the Braves back to Atlanta for two more Wednesday and Thursday.

Baseball is back and everything is right in my world.

Resting Respect: Paying Visits to Some of the South’s Most Influential Figures

Perhaps you were watching my travels throughout this great State of Alabama this weekend on Facebook.

You may wonder what I was doing, you may also wonder what made me pay visits to the many statues and gravesites in multiple cities.

Well, since sports have been basically nonexistent since mid-March, I have come across a newfangled hobby, touring cemeteries; both virtually and physically to pay respects to those that are no longer here in bodily form, but rather in the presence of God.

On Saturday, I visited a statue dedicated to the memory of Booker T. Washington, a mid-19th-century and early-20th-century social reformer, who believed in hard work, and self-education.

On Sunday, Dad and I took a family friend with us to Mobile, Alabama, to visit multiple cemeteries with several early-Mobile notable figures.

Our first visit Sunday, was to the notoriously haunted, Church Street Graveyard, where the man who created a Mardi Gras Revival in 1866 and 1867, is buried.

Perhaps you’ve heard of him, Joseph Stillwell “Joe” Cain Jr. while in Church Street Graveyard, we saw the famous Boyington Oak that stands just outside the Northwest corner of the 19th-century New England churchyard-style cemetery atop the grave of Charles Robert Stuart Boyington, a mid-17th-century printer and gambler, whom moved to Mobile in search of a better life than the one he had experienced in his hometown of New Haven, Connecticut.

Mr. Boyington, allegedly had become friends with Nathaniel Frost, whom owed him money from one of their poker games but refused to give Boyington the money.

As a result, Mr. Frost would be stabbed, robbed, and left for dead inside of the Church Street Graveyard.

Mr. Boyington would be framed as the suspect, taken into custody, and hanged in 1835. According to legend, his last words, as his feet dangled from a tree at Oakleigh, which is now historic landmark, were “A tree will grow from my heart to prove my innocence.”

After our stop to visit Alabama’s third-most haunted burial ground, the three of us made our way to the 120-acre Magnolia Cemetery just down the road, to pay respects to Confederate States Army General Braxton Bragg, whom I claim is my namesake. We also saw numerous graves of confederate soldiers.

Next, we travelled to the 19th-century, Saluda Hill Cemetery, in Spanish Fort, Alabama, to visit the grave of Zachariah Godbold, the only known Revolutionary War veteran buried in Baldwin County, Alabama.

Moral of the story, pay respects to those that came before anyway you can, you never know what you’ll run across in the process.

Church Street Graveyard sign.
Joe Cain grave, Church Street Graveyard.
Joe Cain and I in Church Street Graveyard.
The haunted Boyington Oak, Church Street Graveyard.
Confederate Monument, Magnolia Cemetery.
General Braxton Bragg and I.
Our Confederate Dead, Magnolia Cemetery
Zachariah Godbold, Revolutionary War veteran, Saluda Hill Cemetery, Spanish Fort, Alabama.
Booker T. Washington statue, Tuskegee University.

Tomahawk Chop: Why Are We Considering Removing Such a Harmless Storied Tradition

Around 2:45 Monday afternoon, I read from a credible source that the Atlanta Braves are considering removing one of their longest traditions; the Tomahawk Chop.

Here’s my take on it, why are even considering removing such a long-standing tradition? What’s it hurting?

For 22 years, as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve been going to Braves games and honestly I can’t imagine going to a Braves game without there being a tomahawk chop.

For 22 years, I’ve done the tomahawk chop, whether it be at athletic events at my alma mater, or at a Braves game, not once have I thought it was offensive to anybody of any race.

Native Americans should look at it as an honor, because that’s exactly what it is and that way it’s meant to be.

When I have kids, I will take them to Braves games and yes, I will allow them to do the tomahawk chop. Just as I have done and will continue to do as long as God is willing to let me live.

Last year during the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the staff didn’t allow our fans to have foam tomahawks.

Why, you ask? Because somebody, somewhere complained about it being demeaning and offensive to the Native American race.

Whether we have the tomahawk chop from this point on or not, as for me and my house, we will continue to chop.

Source: WGHP.

Let Freedom Ring: This Fourth of July Remember What This Day Represents

As Independence Day is just around the corner, remember what this day is for.

244 years ago tomorrow, our Founding Fathers signed their names on the Declaration of Independence.

With all the negativity going on in the world these days, put all of that aside and be glad that we’ve been free for 244 years.

Think about all the people that lost their lives fighting so that we could live in this beautiful country freely.

Put all your differences aside and realize that no matter your race, you are an American. You live freely because of our Founding Fathers.

Tonight or tomorrow when you’re partying, barbecuing or what have you, take a moment and be thankful to live in the United States of America.

Be safe, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

Source: History.com

What Have I Been Doing Recently?

I haven’t written in a while, but recently, I made a post on Facebook about a 1930’s outlaw couple.

Perhaps you’ve heard of them, unless you’ve lived under a rock your entire life. Their names? Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow.

Yes, Clyde’s real middle name was Chestnut.

As I made the post, a friend of mine, who is from a Louisiana town/city not far from where the couple that ran all the through Louisiana and parts of East Texas, were ambushed and killed on May 23, 1934 in Gibsland, Louisiana.

The day after I made the post, she visited the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum there in Gibsland and sent me pictures of some of the content. She was also kind enough to allow me to use them in this piece.

Later, that night, she made a comment on the post about a book entitled, “Ambush: The Real Story of Bonnie and Clyde” by Ted Hinton. I believe Mr. Hinton is no longer living, but I decided that since I have always had an interest in the two outlaws’ tragic love story, why not purchase the book?

So, I went to the Books app on my phone, typed the title in, and purchased the book. I’m currently only in the second chapter, but I will say, I’ve been hooked from the first page.

While I have an interest in their story, I don’t condone what they did back in the 1930’s, but it’s history and I’ve always had a great love for history, especially stories like this one.

Stay safe, I’ll talk to y’all soon, I’m going to go back to reading more of this incredible story.

A replica of Bonnie and Clyde’s death car found inside the museum in Gibsland, Louisiana. Photo courtesy of Sarah Stephens.
Officers killed by the outlaw couple.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Stephens.
The last place Bonnie and Clyde ate on the morning of the fateful day that was, May 23, 1934.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Stephens.

Now is When We as Humans Need to Put Aside Any Differences We May Have and Do as God Calls His People to Do

It occurred to me recently, that there have been a lot of good things done in this world ever since this pandemic started.

People are helping people, they are giving to the less fortunate, delivering supplies to people’s houses etc.

Last night, a friend of mine who is in a nationally-touring band went live to address this pandemic, the effect that it has had on him and the other guys in the band.

But he said one thing that really hit home. “Put aside any differences that we may have and go help somebody in need.”

Basically what he was saying is, this is the one time in our lives that we are all struggling with the same thing.

As he spoke, I could hear God guiding his every word. You see, even though his band is unable to tour for the foreseeable future, he hasn’t let that get in the way of being the kind-hearted human that he is.

God calls us all for different things at some point in our lives. But right ͏n͏o͏w, I believe He is calling us to seek Him and He will guide us through these dark times.

I believe He is using this as a wake-up call for all of us. The kind of wake-up call that we’ve needed for hundreds of years now.

I have a feeling God is telling us, as a nation, to grow closer to Him and we will be perfectly fine.

If you have a neighbor, friend, etc. that can’t afford or is unable to get the essentials that they need now, do what God calls us to do and help them out in any way possible.

It’s time to stop being so self-centered and start looking out for those around us that need our help.

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.

Happy 86th Birthday to the Real Home Run King

Hank Aaron the former Milwaukee Brave and Atlanta Brave, was born on February 5, 1934, in Mobile, Alabama.

Henry Louis ‘Hank’ Aaron, later known as ‘Hammerin’ Hank’ wasn’t born into wealth. In fact, in a podcast that I listened to recently, Aaron stated, “My parents couldn’t afford to buy a bat, they couldn’t afford to buy a ball. And so, actually, we did everything we could in order to pretend like we were playing baseball.”

Aaron stated that he and his brothers would go out into the yard with rags that were rolled up tight and throw them to each other while using a broomstick as a bat.

They would do the same with coke bottle caps.

Mobile, Alabama wasn’t the safest of places in the 1940s when Hank was growing up. In fact, according to Aaron, there were no roads, nothing but little farm roads’ he explained.

Mobile wasn’t nearly as big as it is today back when little Henry Aaron was growing up just outside of Mobile.

Even though, he grew up just a few miles outside of Mobile, he still claims Mobile, Alabama as his hometown.

Hank Aaron stated in the podcast that “Actually, I heard about it, from sleeping in the bed at night, because the Mobile Bears were farm club of the Brooklyn Dodgers, in Mobile.”

Aaron continued “I could hear the game on the radio next door, because a friend of mine would have his radio tuned to the Mobile Bears. You know I didn’t have enough money to go to game so I just listened to it.”

Little did he know at the time, that he would one day be considered one of the greatest home run hitters of all-time.

As Hank’s career was beginning, his hero, Jackie Robinson’s career was winding down.

But luckily for Hank, he was able to play against Jackie Robinson on multiple occasions.

Aaron, once a little kid from a poor family in 1940s Mobile, Alabama, became Major League Baseball’s all-time home run record holder on April 8, 1974 at the age of 40-years-old.

That day, Hank passed George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth’s record of 714, when he sent career home run 715 over the left-center field wall.

Aaron would end his career with 755 home runs. He would hold onto the home run crown until 2007, when Barry Bonds passed him by hitting his 756th home run.

That, of course, was with the help of PEDs, so in my mind, Hank Aaron is still the greatest home run hitter of all-time.

Today, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron still serves with the Atlanta Braves as the team’s Senior Vice President. Happy 86th Birthday, Hank, we love you.

Picture: (baseballhall.org)

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.

‘Hank, Let’s Talk about Your Daddy’: A Day With The Lonesome Cowboy

It was a dreary and briskly cold December day in 2016, around 5 p.m., and I had known that Hank Williams Sr., was buried in Montgomery for years, but had never gotten the opportunity to pay a visit to the man who is quite possibly, the most famous country music singer still to this day.

So I got a hair of the dog, and decided to travel to Montgomery to visit the sacred gravesite of the legendary Hank Williams Sr.

As I rode to Montgomery, I listened to the lonesome-bluesy voice of The Drifter all the way to his grave.

When I arrived at his headstone, I stepped out of the car, I Saw The Light played on the radio, and suddenly, chills were sent spiraling down my spine.

For I knew just who was lying six feet below that cold, concrete slab, but I had never witnessed it first-hand before.

I looked up, gazing at the name on that tall, ghostly-grey headstone where the name of the country music pioneer is chiseled.

Then, I looked down at the base of his marker and noticed what looked like Hank’s famed cowboy hat.

I looked to my left, and there was Mrs. Audrey Mae Sheppard Williams, the wife of The Drifting Cowboy.

Time seemed to stand still for just a moment as I was in the presence of a legend and his wife.

I was standing just feet away from the man that brought country music to life.

Hank, let’s talk about your daddy, tell me how your mama loved that man, we won’t talk about the habits, just the music and the man.

Second picture: New York Times.