Hank Aaron: A Man Character, Integrity, Tenacity, and Fortitude

There are no words to adequately describe the man that was Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron. I don’t say that lightly. You see, it was nearly a year ago, that we lost a great man, a noble man, a man of the highest character, integrity, tenacity, and fortitude.

When Hank Aaron, a black man from Mobile, Alabama, passed away on January 22, 2021, we lost a man whom, so bravely stood face-to-face with social injustice in the Deep South in the 1950s and 60s.

We lost a legend, but Hank Aaron didn’t care about his statistics, his fame, or what people thought of his career, he was more concerned with seeing that people were treated with the same amount of respect. He was an advocate, a servant, a legend, and an icon in every sense of his being.

He was and is highly revered in the baseball world, just as he deserves to be. Now, I never had the distinct honor of talking to Mr. Aaron during his 86 years of life here on Earth, but from what I’ve read in articles and books, he never wanted to discuss his historic 23-year Major League Baseball career that saw him break Babe Ruth’s long-standing record of 714 home runs by sending a ball into the left-center field bullpen at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium at 9:07 p.m., eastern time on April 8, 1974.

He was more concerned with discussing how you were, discussing your needs, and wants. He never was self-centered at all. Hall of Fame third baseman, Chipper Jones once said “When Mr. Aaron walked into a room, the crowd got quiet, when he spoke, you listened. But when he made himself available for conversation, you approached him, shook his massive hand, and heeded any advice he offered.”

The baseball world definitely hasn’t been the same since Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron passed away just shy of a year ago because we’ve all felt the void that the absence of such a noble human has left in our hearts. I never got the chance to speak with Mr. Aaron here on Earth, but when my name is called one day to head to that big baseball stadium made of gold in Heaven, you can rest assured that I will approach Mr. Aaron and tell him just how much he means to not only me but to the baseball world in general.

Afterwards, if Mr. Aaron has any advice on how to hit 755 home runs, I will sit back and enjoy his company. Rest In Peace, Hammer. I l love you, brother.

Source (USA Today)

Paying Tribute: A Visit with Hank and Audrey Williams

Paying tribute. It’s something I’ve always liked to do. Whether it’s having one of the person’s favorites, whether it be candy or food. To physically visiting their grave and having a chat with them for a bit.

Yes, I know that the actual person isn’t lying beneath that cold hard stone, only their Earthly body, but their soul, the part of a person that actually makes a human who they are, resides in Heaven.

Last Sunday, my girlfriend and I exchanged gifts at my house a day after Christmas because we were both busy with family on Christmas Day, which is completely and totally understandable.

After we exchanged gifts, we went to eat sushi at Rock N Roll Sushi in Montgomery, because it’d been a while since we had both had sushi and we like it, so why not?

Soon, after we had finished eating sushi, we headed to Oakwood Annex Cemetery in Montgomery to visit with believe it or not, not just one but two country music legends.

One who is considered by many to be the Father of Country Music, Hank Williams Sr., and his wife, Mrs. Audrey Mae Sheppard Guy Williams.

Not many people know this, but Hank and Mrs. Audrey met in Andalusia late summer of 1943, but didn’t marry until December 1944. It’s also believed that by the time they both passed away, Hank of course long before Audrey, the couple was actually divorced.

Of course, Hank Williams is best known as the father of Hank Williams Jr., but he also had an adopted daughter named Lycrecia.

Lycrecia is the daughter of Audrey Mae Sheppard Guy Williams and James Erskine Guy, her full name is Lycrecia Ann Guy Williams.

She was born August 13, 1941, but not long thereafter, Mrs. Audrey and Erskine divorced that same year and Hank adopted Lycrecia some time between 1943 and 1953, so she refers to old drifter as “daddy”.

As my girlfriend arrived at the final resting place of the two legends, I felt the wind die down and I approached the graves.

Now, these aren’t your usual small, intimate graves. These graves feature large headstones and raised concrete slabs.

I sat down on a bench next to Hank’s resting place and listened to his hit song “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” after the song ended I heard a train whistle off in the distance. It was as if Hank could hear his music being played.

Nearly 68 years after his untimely death, the spirit of old Hiram King “Hank” Williams is still searching for a way to get to that New Year’s Day 1953 show that he never made it to.

Rest In Peace, Hank and Mrs. Audrey Mae Sheppard Guy Williams, we miss you both.

Virtual Grave Tour to return New Year’s Day

I’ve always had a love for cemetery. There’s just something peaceful about them. Most people see them as a place where one only goes when they die.

They see cemeteries as cold, dark, gloomy places of mourning and sadness. But to me, cemeteries aren’t all cold, dark, gloomy places of mourning and sadness. They aren’t places where one should only go when they die.

In fact, you can learn a lot just by going and walking through a cemetery and looking at the dates on the headstones, thinking about what all the people lived through and what they saw during their time here on Earth.

I’ve lived across the road from a cemetery all of my life. The graves in that cemetery range from 1863 up until 2010.

When I was a young boy, about 9 or 10, my brother and I, along with our friends would go up to the cemetery at night and play hide and seek with flashlights so that we could see and avoid disrespecting those that were peacefully sleeping at our feet.

So, I’ve always loved the history that cemeteries hold and the stories that are told by the dates on the headstone.

Stories of heart-ache, heartbreak, loneliness, illness, wellness, happiness and sadness. But above all, stories that in a way, make you feel a certain connection to the people that have walked the land before your time. The rich and poor, the old and the young, the famous and the ordinary, their stories all differ, but they’re all the same in a way. They’re all human just like you and I.

I say all of that to say this on January 1, 2022, the Virtual Grave Tour will return to a cemetery near you, wherever you may be, the Virtual Grave Tour travels all over this great land, from California to Florida and anywhere in between.

Come along won’t you? Relive and remember history one grave at a time.

The Iron Bowl: America’s Most Bitter Rivalry

It’s a rivalry as old as time itself. In a series that dates all the way back to November 30, 1893, this is a rivalry in every sense of the word.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, we’ve all filled our stomachs with turkey, dressing and all of the fixings. Now, it’s time for the State of Alabama to push the leftovers to the side and clash in the 86th chapter of the fiercest rivalry in college football, the Iron Bowl.

The Tide may have washed over the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division and the Tigers may have lost their grip on their prey two weeks in a row, but as history has shown, anything is possible when it comes to these two cross-state rivals.

It separates brothers, mothers, fathers, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and wives, even if only for a few hours.

This rivalry has seen it all through the years. Bo’s gone over the top, the game has been won in a literal second, Cam ran all over Alabama in the second half, and so much more. Aubie has even mocked the legendary Bear Bryant in the past.

If you put these two in a room together, you’re bound for a fight. That’s exactly what we will have on our hands on Saturday, November 27, 2021, when the Tide and Tigers are locked inside one proverbial cage and only one will emerge victorious.

In a rivalry of twists and turns, the blood of these two teams is boiling and Saturday, the pot will no longer contain the bad blood between these two.

It’s the Iron Bowl in the 86th chapter, what will happen? Find out at 2:30pm tomorrow on CBS!

Worth the Wait: The Night I’ve Waited My Entire Life to See

I think it’s safe to say that November 2, 2021, is a date that I will never forget. Perhaps you’re not a sports fan and you’re thinking “Why November 2?” The answer to this question is simple yet complex.

It’s the night that the Atlanta Braves, my favorite baseball team, won the Major League Baseball World Series. I can recall sitting in the back of the house when I was little with my baby-sitter, an older lady, watching the games for hours on end.

I can remember the days of Turner Broadcasting System, more commonly known as TBS, listening to the voices of Skip and Chip Caray, Pete Van Weiren and occasionally, Ernie Johnson, describing the action.

I can remember going to Turner Field as a little kid, possibly three or four, and reciting the SportsCenter theme song as we pulled into the stadium parking lot. I’ve seen thousands of iconic moments in franchise history and I’ve definitely seen my fair share of some not-so-iconic moments.

I saw them in the middle of their unprecedented 14-straight division title run while under the direction of the legendary Bobby Cox. I’ve seen my favorite player retire and be immortalized in baseball history. I’ve seen the good, bad and ugly, but I never gave up on them. I’ve gone to sleep many a night feeling broken-hearted because of a one-run loss, and I’ve pulled adrenaline-filled all-nighters celebrating icon wins.

But the one thing that I hadn’t seen until November 2, 2021, was a World Series trophy head home to Atlanta. I’ve endured many years of postseason heartbreak, sleepless nights, and so much more and all of it paid off 24 hours ago.

It was a long wait, but it was worth the wait. It was the night that I had waited my entire life to see.

Champagne Rain: Braves Clinch Fourth-Consecutive National League East Crown

Early on in the season, if you’d have told me that the Braves were going to comeback at the end of the season and win a fourth-consecutive National League East title, even as a life-long diehard fan of the Braves, I probably would’ve called you crazy.

I was born in the middle of the Atlanta Braves glory days, when they won an unprecedented 14-consecutive division crowns. Plus I have relatives from the Atlanta-area and so it was easy for me to delve into the red and blue of the Atlanta Braves. I’ve also seen the Braves at some of their worst times in franchise history such as that 2016 season when we won less than 68 games.

Yet, I’ve stood solidly behind them through the storms of the times. I’ve seen them at their peak and at rock bottom and right now, I’ve got to believe the glory days are returning. We won the East without Ronald Acuña Jr for half of the season, Marcell Ozuna, who was arrested in May missed 80% of the season and pitcher Mike Soroka missed the entire season with a torn Achilles.

The 2021 division title stands as our 21st division title in franchise, the most in Major League Baseball history, two more than the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers

Here’s to October baseball returning to Atlanta in 2021 and our 21st division title! Break out the champagne Braves fans!

(Braves Facebook)
(Braves Twitter)
(Braves Twitter)

Long Time Coming: My First Trip to Truist Park

I went to my very first Braves game at Turner Field in either 2000 or 2001, back when the Braves had that daunting starting rotation that included three then-future Hall of Famers in Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz, who was often used in a closing role back then. Perhaps you’ve heard of them.

Those were the days of Rafael Furcal at shortstop, Matt Franco at first, Julio Franco at second, Vinny Castilla at third or catching, Chipper Jones at third or in left, Eddie Perez catching, Andruw Jones in center, Marcus Giles at second, and Wilson Bettimit in right, Javy Lopez catching, and of course the skipper, Bobby Cox.

I don’t remember if we won or lost that day due to my young age at the time, but I do know that Tom Glavine was the starting pitcher that day.

Fast forward 20 or so years and I’ve finally made it to my first game at Truist Park, the new home of the Braves that opened back in 2017.

Usually, we get there early enough to watch the Braves take batting practice, but we had trouble with the mobile ticketing deal going on nowadays due to COVID, so we had missed them by the time we entered the stadium, which I was kinda upset by, but it was okay, I was more concerned about the game anyway.

Before the game, I went to the Braves Clubhouse Store to get another hat (shocking, I know, but I just have to get a new hat at every game).

Afterwards, we walked over to Monument Garden near section 125, where I had my picture taken with Hank Aaron’s 1969 jersey, Tom Glavine’s 1995 jersey, Dale Murphy’s 1982 jersey, the Hank Aaron Award, a champagne bottle that was used after the Braves won the 1995 World Series Championship, in front of a picture of Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox, in front of all of the hats Hank Aaron hit a home run with, the 1995 World Series trophy and even a time capsule that will be opened in April 2042.

The Braves shutout Tampa Bay 9-0, to improve to 44-10 in games I attend. 43-10 at home and 1-0 on the road. If you haven’t been to Truist Park, you need to go. Trust me when I tell you, there’s something there for literally everyone.

See you in 2022, Truist Park! It was nice meeting you!

(All 755 of Hank’s home run bats)
Hank’s 1974 jersey he was wearing when he passed Babe Ruth)
(Hank Aaron Statue, beside which his casket sat during memorial services for him at Truist Park in January)
(World Series Trophy)
(Time Capsule)
(Hank’s 1969 jersey)
(Tom Glavine’s 1995 jersey)
(Dale Murphy’s 1982 jersey)
(Champagne bottle used to spray champagne in celebration of the 1995 championship)
(Half of the retired numbers. Murphy, Cox, Chipper, Spahn, Smoltz, Maddux)

Old Glory: The Symbol of Hope and Beacon of Freedom

Back a few days ago, I posted a picture on social media of the American Flag and what it meant to me. I posted some of what the Stars and Stripes mean to me.

You see, 245 years ago this country we live in was founded on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It was founded and formed as one nation under God and God willing that will never change.

As Americans, there are a lot of freedoms and liberties bestowed upon each and every one of us to uphold the principles upon which this nation was founded. Along the way we have done a good job of that.

But it seems to me, that in recent months and years, we’ve forgotten what the 50 stars and 13 stripes mean to not only us as individuals, but also to this country. We’ve forgotten what it means to be patriotic.

We’ve always been taught and used those rights and freedoms that are available to us whenever we may choose to use them.

We sleep so comfortably free under Old Glory. You see she’s 13 stripes and 50 stars all gathered on the three most beautiful colors ever assembled.

Here recently, she’s been trampled, set ablaze and cursed here in her own land. She’s seen the Battle at the Alamo take place below her. She got powder burn the night that Frances Scott Key sat writing the Star Spangled Banner.

It got a bad rip at New Orleans with Packingham and Jackson tugging at its seams. She almost fell in San Antone, beside the Texas flag, she waved on though.

She got cut with a sword at Chancellorsville and she got cut again at Shiloh Hill. She may weathered and worn, tattered and torn, but that doesn’t take away from her meaning.

She’s hung limp and low a time or two. She’s been to every corner of the world. She’s been to Korea, Vietnam, Pakistan, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. She’s gone where Lady Liberty demanded, but she’s always found her way back to the mainland. In her own good land here she’s been abused.

She’s getting thread-bare and she’s wearing thin, but she’s in good shape for the shape she’s in. She’s been through war before and she still flying high.

Where I’m from, we raise her up each morning, take her down each night, we don’t let her touch the ground and we fold her right.

She’s more than a flag, she’s our symbol of hope and our beacon of freedom.

Born on the Bayou: 72 Years of Outlaw Living

He’s got 109 hit singles, 99 of which could be found on Billboard Hot Country chart at one time. He’s the son of arguably the greatest Country Music artist to ever live.

He’s an outlaw in every sense of the word, all you have to do is look at his family tree to see that the outlaw lifestyle comes to him naturally. I mean after all, his daddy is Hank Williams Sr, it doesn’t get more outlaw than that.

On this day in 1949, Hank Williams Sr and his wife Audrey Mae Sheppard Williams welcomed little Randall Hank Williams into this world in Shreveport, Louisiana. Hank Sr nicknamed Randall Hank “Bocephus” after Grand Ole Opry comedian Rod Brasfield’s ventriloquist dummy. Now, Hank Sr died in 1953, when young Bocephus was around three or four. So after that, he was raised by his mother Audrey.

When Hank Jr was a child, you could say that a Taj Mahal of musicians visited him and his family, given his father’s status before he passed away on New Year’s Day of 1953.

When I say a Taj Mahal of artists visited his home in his younger days, I don’t mean just one or two famous “regular” artists like you may think. I mean the likes of Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Fats Domino, Earl Scruggs, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis among others.

Williams first stepped on stage and performed his father’s songs at the age of eight and this was just the beginning of what would become what is today a very successful musical career.

In fact, to date, Hank Williams Jr. has 109 hit singles and is by far the most sought after concert ticket in the country music industry.

His career has seen him honored and awarded many times over the years of sitting somewhere between raisin’ hell and amazing grace. He was the 2006 Johnny Cash Visionary Award recipient and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2020.

He’s won countless Grammy Awards for his musical talents but it’s not about the accolades for Bocephus. He says “I’m tryin’ to keep my daddy’s legacy alive in a world that’s becoming more and more blind to those trailblazers as time rolls on.” I guess you could say, it really is a “Family Tradition” in more than one way. Not only is Bocephus keeping the Drifter’s legacy alive, he’s also paving the way for the future of outlaw country.

Happy 72nd Birthday to the Icon himself, Hank Williams Jr.

(Picture: Getty Images)

Expectations Sky High as Braves open 2021 season in the City of Brotherly Love

It’s no secret that the Atlanta Braves have one of the most talented and hungry teams in the entire MLB. After all, they were just one win shy of earning their first berth in the World Series since that Commissioner’s Trophy made the glorious trip back to Atlanta in 1995.

This team has so much talent, quite possibly the most talent that I’ve seen return to one team since the mid-2000s, when we were in the in the midst of an unprecedented 14-consecutive division titles under the legendary Bobby Cox.

I truly believe that this team has every capability of bringing another Commissioner’s Trophy home to Atlanta. Tomorrow, the road to the World Series begins at 2:05 p.m CT in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at Citizens Bank Park.

Aaron Nola will make his fourth-consecutive Opening Day start in the red pinstripes, while Brian Snitker will hand the rock to Max Fried, who will be making his first-career Opening Day start.

Picture: Atlanta Braves Twitter
Picture: Atlanta Braves Twitter.