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.
On July 1, 1939, Walter Banks was introduced to the world. Walter has been an usher for the Atlanta Braves for 54 years. Banks joined the Braves security staff in the offseason 1965, just in time for the team’s transition from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Atlanta, Georgia. Since 1966, Banks has been a mainstay at Braves’ home games, attended over 4,000 games and shaken the hands of approximately 400,000 thousand fans, who ended up being a friend of his by the end of the night. I am one of those lucky 400,000. Back in August of 2012, August 13, 2012 to be exact, my dad and I took a trip to Atlanta to see Braves play the San Diego Padres in Chipper Jones’ last season. I wasn’t expecting to meet an usher that had been with the Braves for 46 years at the time. We got to Turner Field that day as soon as the gates opened and we needed help finding our seats, six rows away from the Braves’ dugout along the first baseline. So we approached this nice-looking, black gentleman and asked him for assistance in helping us find our seats. He shook our hands and showed us to our seats, at the time, I had no clue how long he had been with the Braves. A few minutes later, he made sure to stop by our seats to check on us, we told him we were fine. He then asked us “Where are you from?” We replied: “Montgomery, Alabama.” Because very few people know where Wetumpka is. He then asked dad: “When were you born?” I’m sure that dad didn’t know how to take that, but he replied “1968.” And then came the knowledge. He said “I’ve been with the Braves since they moved to Atlanta in 1966.” I was mesmerized. So I asked him, “Were you there the night Hank Aaron hit his 755th home run?” He replied: “I was I’ve never seen anything like it, that night was incredible.” At this point, I was speechless. Then he asked me “What year were you born?” I replied: “1997.” He enthusiastically said “You were born two years after we won the only World Series title in Atlanta Braves history, right across the road at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.” (The stadium had since been turned into a public parking lot for Braves fans). After a while, he asked “Who is your favorite player?” Without hesitation, I said “Chipper Jones.” He said “Chipper has been a member of the Atlanta Braves since 1993 and will someday be in the Hall of Fame.” A while passed and he said “Hang on, I’ll be right back, stay here.” I noticed that he had gone down to the Braves dugout, but the Braves were taking batting practice so I wasn’t sure what he must be doing. He came back after a minute and said “I got you something.” With his hand behind his back. I was curious to see what he had gotten me. He took his hand out from behind his back and in his hand was a baseball from the Braves dugout. I thanked him and then asked for a picture with him. He obliged immediately, saying “Absolutely!” I still have the ball on a shelf and I also still have the picture of myself with Walter. I chose to write this today because tonight, the Braves are giving away Walter Banks bobbleheads to honor the beloved usher of 54 seasons. If you ever get the chance, go to.a Braves game in Atlanta and ask for Walter Banks, you won’t be disappointed. Happy 80th Birthday, my dear friend, Walter! Braves Country loves you!
Just three months ago, back on April 2, 2019, just hours after attending and throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of the Atlanta Braves home-opener against the Chicago Cubs, Braves fans all across the country were shell-shocked at the news that they would receive next. Bobby Cox, the man who led Atlanta to an unprecedented 14-consecutive National League pennants, had suffered a stroke. But being the strong-willed man that Bobby is, he managed to make his way to a neighbor’s house before calling an ambulance. Since then, Braves Country has worried, prayed and wondered about the condition of the beloved long-time skipper. On Thursday, June 20, 2019, Bobby Cox was able to go back to his Marietta, Georgia home. Which was a huge sigh of relief for millions of people, including myself. The news was broken by Ken Rodriguez, a sports news director at a local Georgia television station. Though Cox was left with paralysis on his right side and the inability to speak for a number of months, the larger-than-life figure has not slowed down. Thursday, Cox was speaking, hitting a ball off of a tee and throwing the baseball with his therapy dog as well as talking about the Braves. Though Cox hasn’t been at the helm of Atlanta since 2012, he said “I watch every game.” Bobby also has high hopes for himself as does all of Braves Country. Cox also said “I hope to be there for Spring Training.” His wife, Pamela Cox said “I think the biggest frustration for him is his speech, but it will get better with time.” Cox then looked at his wife and smiled. Bobby has been kept constant company since April 2nd by his beloved grandchildren. “They light up a room.” He said with tears in his twinkling eyes. If there’s one word that describes Bobby Cox, it’s “fighter”. Get well soon, we love you Bobby!
Many across the State of Alabama remember listening to the enthusiastic, deep voice of Rod Bramblett at some point in their lives. Whether it was during your childhood/teenage years or in your adult life. Even if you were a fan of a different school, like myself, you were familiar with the silky smooth voice that Bramblett possessed. Hearing of his passing on Saturday May 25, 2019, left me speechless. Not only by the loss of a broadcasting legend, but also by loss of a great person. This world was a better place because of Rod Bramblett. Rod passed away at a Birmingham, Alabama hospital due to injuries sustained during a car collision earlier that evening. Not only did Rod but his wife, Paula Bramblett was also injured and also succumbed due to injuries sustained. Bramblett took over for Jim Fyffe in 2003. My thoughts and prayers are with Auburn University, its athletic department, and the Bramblett as Rod, represented not only a broadcaster, but also a son, father, mentor and friend to many across the State of Alabama. His compassionate spirit and silky smooth voice. Will not soon be forgotten
Austin Riley has been in the major leagues just over a week, eight days to be exact, but he’s playing like he’s been in “The Peach State” all year long. Riley is also making his presence felt not only on the field but also in the clubhouse. To be honest with you, he reminds me a lot of a switch-hitter from DeLand, Florida, Atlanta Braves legend and 2018 National Baseball Hall of Famer, Chipper Jones. Over Austin Riley’s first eight days in the Atlanta clubhouse, he’s had 30 at-bats and has hit to the tune of a .367 average with 4 home runs, 9 RBI, a .406 on-base percentage and a 1.206 OPS. It’s looking like he wants to stay right where he is with Atlanta. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this kid will be special just give him time although he is already proving that he is the spark the Braves needed in the lineup. He’s got a long way to go but he’s proving his worth so far. I just can’t get enough of this kid.
For many years, Bobby Cox has been referred to as one of the game’s most influential figures to ever manage a baseball club. Cox was born May 21, 1941 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He began his major league career as a player in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization as a minor leaguer after signing with them out of free agency in 1959, although he never played a game in a Dodgers uniform. Bobby was traded from the Los Angeles organization to the Atlanta Braves in 1966, the first year the Braves were known as the Atlanta Braves after spending time in Boston and Milwaukee. He never played a game in an Atlanta uniform, he was then acquired by the New York Yankees following the 1967 season and played in The Bronx from 1968-1969. However, he would become one of the most highly-respected managers the game has ever seen. At just 30-years-old, Cox began his managerial career at the minor league level in 1971 with Yankees’ farmhand, Fort Lauderdale of the Florida State League. In 1978, Bobby Cox was hired as the manager of the Atlanta Braves, even though the Braves didn’t want to hire him due to his lack of major league managerial experience. He led the Atlanta club from 1978-1981 and then was hired as the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, where he stayed from 1982-1985. In 1990 however, he was called on by Braves executives to manage the team one again. This is where Bobby Cox found a home and stayed from 1990-2010. During that span, Cox led the Braves to an unprecedented 14 consecutive division titles from 1991-2005. Well-respected by players, managers, executives and fans all across the sport, Cox made sure he earned respect of umpires by getting ejected from a Major League record, 158 games. In his managerial career, Bobby Cox coached in 4,508 games with a record of 2,504-2,001 and a winning percentage of .556. Before his retirement in 2010, he was immortalized in Braves history as his number 6 was retired by the club. In 2017, when the Braves opened SunTrust Park, the team honored him with a bronze statue that depicts him standing on the top step of the dugout with one arm on the rail. In April 2019, Cox suffered a stroke a day after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of Atlanta’s home opener vs. the Cubs but has since been released from an Atlanta-area hospital and is in a local-rehabilitation facility and is expected to make a full recovery. Hats off to a legend.