Getting into Atlanta it was only fitting. It was raining. I heard the Rockies got pummeled in Pittsburgh and were on their way. Rain was fitting.
Today, as I opened my eyes, the bright sun told it me was a new day and time for a much needed win. I hear I am lucky. It’s 70 degrees and very mild. Normally, the locals tell me it’s supposed to be around 90 degrees and of course %100 humidity. Lucky me.
I took that luck and struck out in search for that Atlanta peach cobbler that had to be around somewhere. I got some food recommendations from a local Atlantian (I’m not sure what to call someone from Atlanta) and I was en route to such a place when what did my eyes see- Bobby and Junes.
Bobby and June had to have some good eats and I was the intrigued mind to find out. Hell, any place with a swing on it’s porch out front has to have some kind of good food inside.
I have been in the south before, but majority of my food eathing experience has come from the many times I have been in the big easy. That is some great food and I couldn’t wait to see what Atlanta had to offer. I mean after all, I am not a “small” guy and I love the food experience.
The first thing I recognized in Atlanta, is that I need an interpreter. I never took “deep south” when I was in high school and it’s a dialect I am not the most familiar with. Like a low mumble taking halves of words, and splicing them together at a fast pace, catches me off guard and asking “excuse me” quite often.
Walking into Bobby and Junes, I had no idea thee Bobby would be the gentleman holding the door open for me. Probably in his 70’s, he looked exactly what I would expect from the owner of this establishment. I can imagine he has seen many years in the kitchen building the reputation. With his white hair and worn face, he was a tough one and you could tell this was his place.
Seemingly everyone walking in and out knew someone there. This was about as down home southern a place you could get. It was easy to see I was the “odd” man out but I relished the opportunity to be a baseball embassador. Bobby Jr, who seemed to running the day to day, asked me where I was from and I explained I was in town to see the Rockies play the Braves. He said he hoped the Rockies would win and the Braves didn’t have a team. I thought it was a nice gesture and didn’t really want to remind myself of the Rockies play of late, so I just agreed.
For ten bucks, I ate some great fried pork chops, collared greens, cream corn, biscuits and peach cobbler. Let’s see a chain restaraunt come close to that and have as much character and bring an experience like Bobby and June’s.
Sitting at a counter that showed it’s age, I couldn’t help but think of all the events it had seen. I wondered what conversations had been spoken here. Loosely listening, I could hear discussions of car dealership closings and worried thoughts of mismanaged government on this day.
Autographed pictures of George W. and Dick Cheney along with Georgians of some political nature I had no idea who they were, stared across from me. They all had thank-you’s to the Bobby and June for the great food.
As the day grows longer I am more excited for my first trip to Turner field. I drove by it to see if I got that, baseball is played here feeling, like I get from Coors. I do get that feeling and it looks like a beautiful stadium from the outside. In a few short hours I’ll be inside it’s gates waiting and hoping for the boys of summer from Colorado to put a W up on the board.
I am grateful for the good weather today and I have a good feeling about tonight’s game. Of course I will have the latest and greatest from Turner Field and give you the low-down on the food and fans of the Atlanta Braves. The food of Atlanta has been good so far, let’s see what Turner Field can bring to the mix.
With a belly full of peach cobbler, I am ready for a win…
If you read yesterday’s post you could tell it was a challenging day(s) and I wrote a lyric from Hank Williams Sr.
Kathy over at Redbird Chatter didn’t recognize the lyric and thought she had heard every Hank William’s song growing up. She then realized she was behind on Baseball Across America when she saw I date every post at the top. After getting caught up she offered a space in Oklahoma if I should need a rest.
Leave it to a Cardinal fan in Oklahoma to make me smile and say a big, “Thank You.”
She inspired me to explain more of myself and personally it’s a side of me I consider one of the biggest- my love of music. If you have ever seen Shawshank Redemption and Andy Dufrain is sitting in the wardens office blaring opera and knowing he’s going to solitary confinement, but he doesn’t care because he loves music so much. That’s me.
I love music more than I could ever explain. My parents had a huge record collection when I was growing up and I could literally change a record before I could tie my shoes. My parents would have friends over and they would always remark how cute it was their son could put a record on and he was so little.
They listened to everything and I grew up appreciating so many types of music including Hank Williams Sr. As I got older, I began to appreciate him even more as obviously I “grew into” the music and could understand it so much more.
The lyric you did not recognize Kathy, was indeed Hank Williams Sr. but it was his alter ego Luke the Drifter. Williams had struggled with alchohol and “honky tonkin” in his years as a musician but he always sought the comfort of prayer and the Lord. His alter ego Luke the Drifter was inspired by his need or want to sing songs of a preaching type nature as he travelled across the country and they’re some great songs.
The first song I had ever heard was “I dreamed of mama last night.” Musicians such as Johnny Cash covered it later but it was always the best sung by Hank.
My father had lost his mother at the age of eight in Brooklyn, when she tragically fell off the stoop hanging laundry. Growing up I would find him listening to this song and I could see a deep sorrow.
As i got older, and understood what indeed my mother went through raising her boys, I could understand. I would come in late and never got angry or upset if she would call out. I thanked Hank for putting it in the words he did.
(I’ve just been to heaven with someone so true I dreamed about mama last night
She read me the Bible like she used to do I dreamed about mama last night)
She never closed her eyes and sleep till we were all in bed
And on party nights till we came home she often sat and read
We little thought about it then for we were young and gay
Just how much mama worried when we children were away
We only knew she never slept then when we were out at night
That she waited just to know that we’d all come home all right
Why sometimes when we’d stay away until one or two or three
It seemed to us that mama heard the turning of the key
For always when we’d step aside she’d call and we’d reply
But we were all too young back then to understand the reason why
Until the last one had returned she’d always keep a light
For mama couldn’t sleep until she kissed us all goodnight
She had to know that we were safe before she went to rest
For she seemed to fear the world might harm the ones she loved the best
And once she told me when you’re grown to women and to men
Perhaps I’ll sleep the whole night through I may be different then
And so it seemed that night and day we knew a mother’s care
That always when we got back home we’d find her waitin’ there
Then came the night that we were called together round her bed
The children’re all with you now the kindly doctor said
And in her eyes there gleamed again that old time tender light
That told that she’s just been waitin’ to know that we were all right
She smiled that old familiar smile and prayed to God to keep
Her children safe from harm throughout the years and then she went to sleep
(My dream is a treasure that I’ll always keep I dreamed about mama last night)
So as I travel across America, music will be my best friend. I have over one thousand cd’s and they won’t come along in hard copy, but I love Apple for inventing the Ipod because so much of that music will be with me. From rock to rap to big band and blue grass folk, the Taurus will be as diverse in it’s music as this country is in people.
So even though Hank died at the age of 29, in the back of his Cadillac on the way to his next show, he’ll be sitting right next to me waiting to tell me everything’s ok.
I could talk about music for days but I’d be more than happy to make it a regular post if people would like to pick my brain on what’s the current hit inside the Taurus. And when I say I listen to everything I mean almost everything and there are some exceptions like Polka. Nothing against it in a barn dance or the like, but I never found it on any regular rotation in my listening ever!
You would find groups like the Beatles, Eddie Vedder, Willie Nelson, Jay-Z, Korn, Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, Tool, Garth Brooks, John Denver, Kings of Leon, Jimmy Buffet, Johnny Cash, Metallica, Chimaira, Pantera, Ozzy, Prince, Radiohead, Sam Cooke, Snoop, Rolling Stones and the list goes on…Trust me it really goes on and on. : )
Thanks again Kathy.
December 31, 2008. Today is the last day of 2008 and what a year it has been. In this post I will lay down the groundwork for much of my 2009 and an adventure I invite each and every one of you to come along on. In my experiment I hope to expose the America lost in recession, war, political bickering and loss of love for thy neighbor. The America where there is love for one another and kindness and generosity and all through the use of baseball…
“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.” Bart Giamatti.
Baseball has seen most of the major strife this country has faced and through out, it has taken on one form or another and supported the masses. Whether during the ’30s and depression era ball bringing the first night games to be played or the ’40s with brave women taking over and creating “a league of their own” as brave soldiers fought in WWII. Even recently as 2001, poetically, the Yankees took to the field after 911 versus the Diamondbacks to reassure Americans we would go on. It was an American tale to see the D’backs face the “giant” and win in the World Series but it was the American dream. You could do anything.
The year of 2008 saw the first black president and great strides in tolerance but also the culmination of corruption in American business. Thousands continued to lose their homes and life savings and red and blue were still the colors separating American and American. With great reserve and fear so many Americans will turn to the national pastime this next year on radios, internet, television and if lucky enough, visiting so many of the holy shrines we call stadiums. That’s where I come in.
Part one- background and belief
I will assume majority of people who are reading this don’t know me, so I will give a brief synopsis of where I am coming from and what will drive me there. Roughly six years ago I gave up my passion in writing for fear of student loans and other obligations I couldn’t pay. I took another job that would meet those obligations but I lost my dream along the way. How many people out there have done the same? 2008 gave me the opportunity to once again realize that dream and at what better time to begin to realize the opportunity before me.
Much of it started with prompting from my mother. Gotta love moms. I had gone to the DNC in Denver with a great friend and I wanted to see the spectacle that was American politics. I wanted to see through the eyes of a journalist something that hadn’t been in Denver for a century. What could I learn or be a part of? I marched in an anti-war protest that was the largest of the DNC with over 12,000 people not because I didn’t support the troops or love this country and understand their sacrifice, but because I wanted to highlight the idea of peace and maybe if just given a try we could be a better world. In comes my mother. After hearing of this she reminded me that I used to write and maybe I should write again. So I did and a local southern Colorado paper ran my piece.
Not long after it was attacked in an editorial by a gentleman who I don’t believe meant harm, but called my idea of peace “flowery rhetoric.” I was saddened not because he had disagreed, but because I felt this was probably the feeling of so many Americans in this day and age. I then asked myself what I could do to change this. I firmly believe one person can make a difference in this world with the passion and determination to do so. Along came the idea for Baseball Across America.
Part two- Belief in action
I am currently in the process of becoming homeless. Not because of foreclosure, but because I won’t need a home where I’m going. Majority of my possessions are being sold or will be sold and the rest will go into storage or donated to charity. February 1st , I will officially be without an address of my own for the first time ever.
I am taking the last money I have in savings and putting it all towards living my dream and hopefully making America and the world a better place at the same time. How?
At the beginning of the baseball season I will follow behind my team, the Colorado Rockies, and as best I can go where they go. Not in first class plane trips or by fancy means but in my 2001 Ford Taurus with 140,000 miles on it. I won’t be able to see every game or go to every city and truthfully I don’t know how far I will even get on the money I have. I may take a flight or two if I find I can afford it, however American engineering and the Taurus will have to hold up! But it’s the journey I’m going to write on. The experiment.
The experiment will have me staying with complete strangers and family or friends when available. My goal is to document not only the game of baseball but the great people of this country in each and every city and home I am welcomed into. The humanity of the great people of this country is what I hope to see most. No arguments or divisions or separation by race, income or belief. I love baseball and hope to act as an ambassador of my love for the game.
You the people are welcome to come along but not just passively. I hope that if any post I write inspires you to do good then please by all means. A call to action. If something I said in the back of your mind prompts you to a kind deed then every last penny of my life savings was worth it. We can all do this one deed, one person, one city at a time. We all are in this country and it’s the best one in the world so why not try and make it just a little better for everyone. For a moment look at the We not the I. For those outside America the principle still holds true. Canadian brothers in baseball or Mexican brothers begin the fight.
Most who know me would say I am stubborn and not quick to ask for help. For this journey I have put that stubbornness aside and will ask help of so many people, so many towns to visit and homes to take refuge. Anyone wanting to help and even if in kind words can always email me at email@example.com or stop in at rockymountainway.mlblogs.com. My internet access after February will depend on coverage where I am but I will do my best to respond to every email I get.
I’m not naïve in the challenges and obstacles I face. I know there will be many who disagree with me and would rather see me fail. I know the money will eventually run out and the car could quit in the middle of nowhere. I could get robbed or in an accident and terrible things “could” happen.
I’ll paraphrase Bob Marley here “the people trying to make the world a worse place aren’t taking a day off, so how can I.” The things I hope to happen are worth far more then the negative that could come about.
Some will say driving and seeing baseball games is not hard but I’ve driven many road trips and it is hard. Writing everyday will be a job and trying to cover America no easy task. A great quote I read recently from a freelance writer said something to the effect of being a freelance writer you are free to starve wherever you want. I hope not to starve but losing some weight would be a good thing!
I won’t say that every post at http://rockymountainway.mlblogs.com will be Pulitzer Prize winning material. Some will be very light hearted and some serious. But my hope through all the bad is to show the good that does not make the daily news. Sure if I find a to die for brat with onions and peppers in Houston or an awesome baseball statue in San Diego you will read about it. If I come across an amazing charity in Chicago or unbelievable youth baseball program in New York I will highlight them.
I understand my blog is a baseball blog and baseball will be this ship carrying me to my destinations. I can’t thank the people at MLBlogs enough for giving the opportunity to ordinary people to write. Thank you Mark and all the others that go into keeping the sight up and running.
Mr. Rodgers said it best “would you be my neighbor.” In 2009 will you be my neighbor in rediscovering the beauty that is America through her people and places and her past time?
Again you are all invited to help and read along in this chapter of my life. January will find me packing and cleaning and maybe even finding a part-time job to pay off some more bills before I go. February will find me franticly trying to pay those bills still! I’ve been invited to stay on a friends couch until I leave and it will also find me gearing up for my journey. March will find me beginning that journey and God only knows the outcome.
I am not perfect and have made too many mistakes in this life to count but it’s what we do now and in the future that determines who we are. Every minute is an opportunity to do the right thing even if it’s the hardest thing. No matter your age or background we all take steps backwards at times but as long as you’re trying to take steps forward it will all work out.
“He’s telling us this and he’s telling us that. Changes it every day. Says it doesn’t matter. Bases are loaded and Casey’s at bat playin it play by play. Time to change the batter. And we don’t need the ladies crying cause the stories sad, uh huh. Rocky mountain way is better then the way we had…” – Joe Walsh
God bless each and every one of yours in 2009 and I hope to meet many of you on the road this year and maybe tell your story!
Tom Walsh- rockymountainway Dec 31, 2008