A year before I was born (1966), for those of you wondering when dirt was first created, the Milwaukee Braves moved to Atlanta. The first regular season game for the Atlanta Braves was April 12, 1966 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The stadium was sold out, but the Braves lost in the 13th inning 3-2.
One of baseball’s and the Atlanta Braves greatest fans to me would have to be my grandfather and we called him “Daddy Ralph,” a good southern paternal name. He loved the Braves’ and baseball. I never remember being in his house during baseball season when the Braves were not on TBS in his living room. I also remember him taking me to a few Braves games and doing the whole baseball thing that you do at the park. He even bought my first baseball glove to be used for rec baseball and it was a MacGregor “Hank Aaron – 715” fielders glove. I still have it!
I tell you all this because this will be the first year of Braves’ baseball for me without him. In June of 2007 at the age of 95 he left this world to live with the one who made the most impact on his life, JESUS. I am so glad he did. He was ready…his health was poor…and we just don’t live forever. Still, I’m going to miss him. He could tell you everything Bobby Cox and previous managers were doing wrong and he could tell you who that new kid was and how good he was going to be.
He loved the Hebron Angels too! He never got to see a game, but he got to hear about all of them and whenever we visited him he would say to Michael and Evan, “There’s my baseball players…” and he would hug all over them. Last year we bought him a Hebron Angels team t-shirt and I’ve never seen him prouder.
He believed in hard work and he encouraged dreamers, especially in his elder years. Here are a few things about life that I learned specifically from him.
Love God and give your life to Jesus.
Love your family and love other people. Give people respect and treat them with dignity even if they have experienced hard times, were less fortunate or made bad decisions that they regret.
Work hard for the man who hired you and make the wages be deserved.
Do good things for people when others aren’t looking.
These are just a few and sorry to be so long on this one, but had to share it.
If he were still around…I’d have him come to one of our games and let him tell us coaches what we’re doing wrong and listen to him talk about how great “ballplayers” you all are and are going to be. He would believe in you all and so do I.