‘If You’re Gonna Play the Game Boy, You Gotta Learn to Play it Right’ Saying See You Later to The Gambler

Saturday morning, I received the notification that “The Gambler” Kenny Rogers had passed on to Heaven at the age of 81.

Rogers, a Houston, Texas native pumped out hit-after-hit during his 60-year career as a country music singer.

A few of those hits were “The Gambler”, “Islands in the Stream”, a duet with Dolly Parton, “Coward of The County”, “Golden Years” and so many more.

Kenny was active as a country music singer from 1957 to 2017. Throughout his career he shared stages with some of country music’s biggest names.

See you later Gambler, you will definitely be missed but never forgotten.

Picture: Rifnote

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.

The Passing of an Icon: Infamous Rodeo Clown Lecile Harris Passes Away at age 83

It’s safe to say, rodeos will never be the same.

Thursday afternoon, it was made public on Lecile Harris’ Facebook page that the infamous daredevil went to Heaven in his sleep at the age of 83.

Harris was born in Lake Cormorant, Mississippi on November 6, 1936. where he lived until he was five-years-old. After turning five, Lecile and his parents moved to Collierville, Tennessee.

Many people didn’t know this, but Lecile Harris, best-known for attempting hilarious and often life-threatening stunts on the dirt of an arena somewhere in this country for over half a century, attend The University of Tennessee at Martin, where he was a part of the Skyhawks football team.

He got his rodeo career started as a bull rider, and then later saw himself perform some fill-in duties as a bullfighter when other bullfighters were unable to attend the show for one reason or another.

When I was a kid, maybe around the age of three or four, my parents took my brother and I to the Southeastern Livestock Exposition Rodeo, which was held just up the road in Montgomery, Alabama at Garrett Coliseum, in fact that rodeo has been around for what will soon be 63 years this coming March 19-21, 2020.

My favorite part of the rodeo was the clowns, I never really was big on clowns, but there was something about Lecile that I loved.

He just seemed so friendly and quite like me in my younger days, he seemed like a daredevil.

One year in particular, I believe somewhere between 2002 and 2004, it was announced that Lecile would be in town for the rodeo.

Now, by this time, he had already made a name for himself, starring in television shows like ‘Hee Haw’ back before I was born, but I didn’t know that at the time.

It was also said that he had a surprise guest coming with him, so I begged my parents to take us, and they did.

We got to the rodeo and after the national anthem was played I screamed across the coliseum “Play Ball!” Because that’s what I had always on TV and at baseball games.

Lecile’s friend’s name was ‘Wild Child’ and boy, was that Child Wild.

He and Lecile took turns during intermission jumping ramps on Wild Child’s dirt bike.

Wild Child jumped over a piano and motorhome successfully, but then came Lecile.

He got on Wild Child’s bike, jumped the ramp, blew up the motorhome and piano, which resulted in him sending Wild Child’s bike into flames.

I felt sorry for Wild Child at this point, but Lecile thought it was hilarious. He preceded to ask Wild Child “Can I do it again?!?” To which Wild Child responded “No, absolutely not!”

If you never got the chance to see Lecile in action, let me describe him to you, he wore a black cowboy hat, red suspenders, a red plaid shirt a dark blue jacket, a blue belt and blue jeans. Nothing he wore matched. His face was painted white around the eyes, red paint on his nose and sad looking white around his mouth, he looked like Emmett Kelly.

On the other hand, Wild Child mainly wore a big yellow cowboy hat, blue on his cheeks, red paint on his nose, a yellow shirt, blue suspenders, and saggy blue jean overalls.

Needless to say, neither one cared what they looked like.

From now on when I hear thunder I will always think “Here goes Lecile attempting his stunts again.”

Lecile, please be careful in heaven, don’t attempt jump any ramps and end up blowing things up.

Rest in Peace, my friend, I’ll see you again one day.

Picture Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Picture: Lufkin Daily News.

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)

Nation Mourns Loss of Basketball Legend, 13-year-old Daughter

It’s no secret that everybody knew who Kobe Bryant was. You didn’t even have to watch basketball to be familiar with his name.

Sunday afternoon, the Los Angeles Lakers legend and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, were among nine who were killed in a helicopter crash about 30 miles outside of central Los Angeles, California.

When I received the news via text on Sunday, I had to read it twice to make sure I was reading it correctly.

The text simply read “Kobe Bryant is dead.” I was speechless. I responded with question marks because I couldn’t process that thought clearly in my head.

They responded “He really is,” I then scrolled back up to the text so that I could read it again and try to wrap my mind around the news that I had just gotten.

As I was reading it, a news notification popped up on my phone that read “Lakers Legend Kobe Bryant Among Nine Killed in Crash outside of Los Angeles.”

As I was scrolling through social media an hour or so after receiving the text, I read a headline that stated “Kobe Bryant, 13-year-old daughter die alongside each other in LA helicopter crash.”

No family should ever have to bury the body of a loved one, but to have to bury two bodies, a husband, friend, father and role model to many and a daughter, is truly unimaginable.

My deepest condolences are extended to not only the family and friends of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, but also the countless number of teammates that shared the court with Kobe during his NBA career.

Kobe Bryant was just 41-years-old, while his daughter, Gianna departed way too early at the age of 13.

Rest easy, you’ll never be forgotten. Picture: Yahoo.

Willie Nelson: The Only True Outlaw Left in Country Music

It has been debated for years, just how many true outlaws are left in Country music and it’s without a doubt that when discussing this topic you’re going to mention an 86-year-old with long, braided, silver, silky hair from Abbott, Texas, named Willie Nelson. There’s a strong possibility that he just might be the only true outlaw left in the country music genre. You see, the rest of these people, mainly the newer self proclaimed ‘artists’ think they are outlaws and love to sing songs written and performed by people way before their time. But with Willie Nelson, he is an outlaw. There’s absolutely no doubt about it. Some of these new people write songs about stuff that didn’t actually live through or witness. With Nelson, there’s no doubt that he’s actually lived through or witnessed the things that he has written about in songs. Willie has lived through the Great Depression, both World Wars, the Vietnam War, Korean War and so much more. In fact, Willie Nelson served this country out of high school and then attended Baylor University after his time in the armed forces. I can’t even begin to imagine all of the things that Willie has seen over the past 86 years. When the news broke early Thursday morning of Willie Nelson cancelling all of his 2019 tour dates because of a breathing problem. I was literally speechless. It got me to thinking ‘Just how much more can this man take?’ How many outlaws are left in country music?’ Willie has had his fair share of health problems in the past, including pneumonia, a few years back. People these days don’t take time to think about those who made country music what it used to be, what many people, like myself still consider real country music, like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Johnny Paycheck and so many more people. What this generation considers ‘country’ isn’t country at all. Luke Bryan, Luke Combs, Florida-Georgia Line etc. are more of pop artists than country. You can get mad if you want, because I really don’t care what you think. That’s not what people like Willie intended it to be. You can say ‘Luke Bryan, Florida-Georgia Line, Luke Combs etc. are country’ all you want. But I along with so many others will quickly tell that it most definitely is not country music. It’s time we start paying attention to folks like Willie and appreciate their music like y’all do these pop artists that consider themselves ‘country artists’. We need to buy the old timers’ music, listen to it and appreciate it because we won’t have them much longer. I never have understood why people start buying the old music long after the artists have passed on. Why can’t we buy it while they’re still alive? Because as Willie says ‘the best I can tell the world’s gone to Hell.’ Folks, whether you like it or not, Willie Nelson really is the only true outlaw left in country music.