I can still see that old wooden-cabinet-table-top radio. It only picked up A.M. stations, and there weren’t even many of those, but I listened to everyone I could tune in, that played what I wanted to hear. When I was a kid, that old radio was my main transmitter of the Atlanta Braves baseball games. We had a television, black and white, but they only televised one or two baseball games per week. Those games did not include the Braves as often as I wished, so I listened on my radio, when I could pick them up.
I was 10-years old when the Braves moved to Atlanta. I don’t think I had ever heard of them before that. They moved from Milwaukee. I wasn’t even sure where Milwaukee was located, but I felt pretty certain that it wasn’t in Alabama or Georgia. Those two states, and Florida and Tennessee, were about as far as I had ventured at that time.
The Braves brought with them a 32-year-old slugger named Hank Aaron. I didn’t know who he was either, but when I heard that he grew up in Alabama, I liked him. As I listened to him play, and occasionally watched on television, I loved what he did. I quickly learned that he was perhaps the best baseball player in the world at that time. I loved the sound of the ball coming off his wooden bat. Many of those balls landed in the outfield bleachers.
His greatest accomplishment was breaking Babe Ruth’s home-run record. Aaron’s 755 career homeruns stood as the record for 33 years. He was chosen for a record 25 All-Star Games, and played in 24 of them. As great as “Hammering Hank” was, there was one thing that eluded him in Atlanta…they never won a World Series while he played there. He had won one in 1957 with the Braves in Milwaukee.
That World Championship title was not only elusive for the great Hank Aaron, it has been pretty elusive for all the Braves’ teams. The Braves have played baseball for 117 years. They’ve won the title only four times, and only two of those were after they moved to Atlanta. They’ve broken our hearts several other times. Some of their best years were in the 1990s and mid-way through the 2000s.
By that time, I was watching almost every game in color on Ted Turner’s TBS network. In the 1990s, they assembled perhaps one of the greatest starting-pitcher rotations in the history of the game. They won their division year after year, as well as numerous National League titles, but brought home the big trophy only one time.
After last year’s heart-breaking lost to the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series, I said what I’ve said a multitude of times before…Just wait till next year. Well, this year didn’t start off so well. Before the season began, on January 22, hero Hank Aaron died.
Midway through the season, they had a losing record. On July 10, Ronald Acuna, perhaps their best player, tore his ACL. It looked like they wouldn’t even win their division this year, much less win it all…but they did both! They entered the playoffs with the lowest-winning percentage of any playoff team. Hardly anyone believed they would go far, except the team, and they did. In fact, they went all the way.
Believe! In order to accomplish your goals in life, you must believe. Believe in God, believe in self, believe in others, and believe in your purpose. When no one around you gives you a chance, go out there and prove them wrong!
— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal Wednesday edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.