THE DAY THE MICK DIED

I APOLOGIZE FOR BEING SUCH A BAD BLOGGER…THE LAST FEW MONTHS HAVE BEEN CRAZY BUSY!  THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT MY NEW ALBUM “REAL GOOD TIME” IS FINISHED AND WILL BE OUT AROUND THE MIDDLE OF AUGUST!  YEEHAW!  MY FIRST SINGLE, “RAISE YOUR BOTTLE,” WILL BE AVAILABLE ON ITUNES AROUND MEMORIAL DAY.  ALL PROCEEDS FROM THIS SONG THAT I WROTE FOR MY DAD WILL BENEFIT THE BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE PAID THE PRICE TO GIVE US FREEDOM! 

ALSO, I ALMOST HAVE JULIA GRACE’S NEW BLOG READY (WEEKS 24-25).  WE ARE DOING GOOD AT THE WATSON HOUSE, BUT I HAVE TO BE HONEST, WE HAVE OUR MOMENTS FROM TIME TO TIME.  THERE IS AN EMPTY HIGH CHAIR AT THE KITCHEN TABLE.  THERE IS AN EMPTY CRIB IN A BEDROOM.  AND THERE WILL ALWAYS BE AN EMPTINESS INSIDE OUR HEARTS.  WE LONG TO HOLD AND LOVE OUR BABY GIRL.  SHE WOULD NEARLY BE 7 MONTHS OLD NOW.  IT STILL HURTS AND IT ALWAYS WILL.  WE CONTINUE TO ASK FOR PRAYERS AND WE CONTINUE TO PRAISE GOD THROUGH IT ALL.  “WHEN WE ALL GET TO HEAVEN WHAT A DAY OF REJOICING THAT WILL BE…”

THIS NEXT POST IS A LITTLE SOMETHING THAT I WROTE LAST YEAR.  I THOUGHT WITH THE SMELL OF SPRING AND NACHO CHEESE IN THE AIR IT WOULD BE A GOOD TIME  TO POST A BASEBALL RELATED BLOG!  GOD BLESS AND I HOPE YOU ENJOY!  PLAY BALL!

THE DAY “THE MICK” DIED

THE MOVIE, SANDLOT

THE SANDLOT GANG

If you’ve seen the movie, The Sandlot, then you basically know my Dad’s childhood.  For a boy in West Texas in the 1950’s, life revolved around sandlot baseball.  There weren’t all these reality TV shows and video games like the ones polluting our world today.  Kids got their rears off the couch and went outside to play.  If they did watch a little TV, it was in black and white and it was probably either Howdy Doody or the Lone Ranger.

THE SUPER CUTE WATSON GANG

In the movie, The Sandlot, Scotty Smalls is the new kid in town with no athletic ability or knowledge of baseball.  The kid couldn’t kick a ball much less throw it.  He is uncoordinated, goofy, and even the duck bill hat he wears looks ridiculous.  Whether it’s a politically correct statement or not, the biggest insult you can give a little boy on the baseball field is telling him that he “throws like a girl.”  Well, the new kid, Smalls, throws like a girl and the sandlot gang is slow to embrace the nerdy kid who is so eager to earn their approval.

THE SWEET FACE OF VICTORY

One hot summer day, future Major Leaguer Benny “The Jet” Rodriquez hits the ball so hard that it literally rips the cover off the ball, which is a feat that every boy dreams of doing, you know, just like Roy Hobbs does in The Natural!  The entire sandlot gang is in awe, amazed at this tremendous showing of brute strength and power, but Benny is heartbroken!  That was their only ball and they didn’t have the 98 cents between them to buy a new one. The new kid, Smalls, sees this as a great window of opportunity to get in good with the gang and earn some respect.  The whole team is down in the dumps, but he rises to the occasion and says, “I’ve got a ball!”  In all actuality, Smalls doesn’t have a ball, but his step-dad has an autographed Babe Ruth ball in his trophy case.  Smalls doesn’t even know who the Babe is, but races home and snags the ball like a thief in the night.  He shortly returns with ball in hand, and being that he provided the new ball, he gets the privilege to bat first.  Play ball!  The game after the short delay resumes again.  Smalls, who generally couldn’t hit a beach ball sitting on a road cone, somehow connects with a fastball and crushes it over the fence into the forbidden backyard of the Beast!  The Beast, in the eyes of these little boys, is some type of massive, ferocious monster, but in reality is a 300 lb. English Mastiff…a beast nonetheless!  The entire sandlot gang rallies around Smalls, cheering as if he had just hit the game winning home run in the seventh game of the World Series.  Smalls’ brief excitement quickly turns to panic as he realizes he won’t be able to retrieve the irreplaceable ball.  The gang tries to console him, assuring him they can get another ball until they get the whole story from Smalls, who is still unaware at the importance of the ball he had so ignorantly borrowed.  They will spend the rest of the movie trying to retrieve that ball.

Here’s the monologue from the movie after Smalls hits it over the fence and is freaking out:

Squints: Where did your old man get that ball?

Smalls: I don’t know. Some lady gave it to him. She even signed her name on it.  Ruth.  Baby Ruth.

All: BABE RUTH!?

Smalls: I was gonna put the ball back.

Squints: But it was signed by Babe Ruth!?

Smalls: Yeah, you keep telling me that! Who is she?

Ham: WHAT? WHAT?

Kenny: The Sultan of Swat!

Bertram: The King of Crash!

Timmy: The Colossus of Clout!

Tommy: The Colossus of Clout!

All: BABE RUTH!

Ham: THE GREAT BAMBINO!

Smalls: Oh my gosh! You mean that’s the same guy?

THE REAL LIFE SANDLOT

THIS PROBABLY LOOKED A LOT LIKE DAD’S BASEBALL

In 1956, Mickey Mantle came to Midland Texas.  My Dad took a brand spanking new baseball, as shiny as a polished pearl, and had the Mick autograph it.  That Mickey Mantle autographed ball would sit proudly on the mantle in my dad’s room.  But later that year, one hot August day nearing the end of the summer, my dad’s sandlot gang would run out of baseballs.  Being without a baseball is tragic to a young boy because no ball means no game.  My dad, well aware of what he was doing, would walk into his room and grab that ball he had been displaying so proudly.  He sacrificed one of his most treasured gifts at the time, so he and his buddies could continue their summer time sandlot series.  Of course, years later, Dad says he wishes he still had that ball, but I honestly treasure the story much more than I would some leather wrapped ball of twine.  It just goes to show that even though the boy loved Mickey Mantle, he loved baseball just a little more.

6 YEARS OLD AT CORONADO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

I grew up very similar to my father.  I loved baseball even more than my girlfriend and I would play ball every chance I got.  We even built a mini wiffle ball ballpark in the backyard.  I used my yard mowing money to buy high wattage lights and extension cords so we could light up the field at night.  I had lights strung up in the trees, on the roof, and half way up a power line pole.  There were cords running everywhere!  It was a sight that rivaled Chevy Chase’s house in the 1989 movie Christmas Vacation.  It’s a wonder we didn’t burn the place down or get electrocuted.  The outfield fences were made of old wooden forklift crates and we painted them the same green as the Monster at Fenway.  The grass was plush and we brought in dirt for the infield and the pitcher’s mound.  Behind the center field fence we had a U.S. flag, a Texas flag, and a small pennant flag that my friend’s mom made that said “IWL,” which stood for International Wiffle Ball League.  We went way over the top and it was really a sight to see!  We played for hours and hours on end.  Even in high school when most kids were looking for a party, my friends would park in the alley and we would play wiffle ball till 3 am in the morning.

DADDY & HIS BALLPLAYERS!

JACK (20 MONTHS) JAKE (3 YEARS)

Baseball was life.  I had the heart. I had the hustle. I had the fundamentals.  Perhaps, I was just a little short on talent.  Even during my hard-headed teen years when Dad and I couldn’t see eye to eye on anything, we still had one thing in common, and that was baseball.  I would even go as far to say that God used baseball or a baseball player to open my eyes and nudge my soul a bit.  As a Dad now, I enjoy passing on my father’s and my love for the game to my two little boys.  My wife says that I am borderline brainwashing them and I absolutely agree with her!

SUNDAY, AUGUST 13, 1995

17 YEAR OLD PUNK!

I was seventeen years old and I was ready to give my life to Jesus.  I had actually started thinking seriously about it when I was sixteen, but the thought of getting up in front of our huge church congregation and making that commitment scared me to death.  I kept putting it off Sunday after Sunday after Sunday.  One day I turned around and realized I was quickly approaching my 18th birthday and I had been avoiding the most important decision of my life for nearly two years.  So a few months ahead, I set a date to be baptized on my birthday, which happened to fall on Sunday, August the 20th.

HIS WHOLE LIFE AHEAD OF HIM

On Sunday, August the 13th, exactly a week before the big scheduled day, I woke up to the smell of coffee brewing.  Some of my most treasured memories are my early morning visits with Dad while drinking his famous cup of joe (something we still do even today, except now I make the coffee.)  That particular morning as we turned on the TV we were surprised to hear the news that in the early morning hours, Mickey Mantle had passed away from cancer.  Dad and I just kind of sat there in silence.  I remember feeling a little heartbroken for Dad, knowing his boyhood hero had just died.

ONE OF MY FAVS

Mickey Mantle is to Dad what Nolan Ryan is to me.  Dad has told me countless stories about the Mick.  For example, he would say, “Did you know Mickey was the first person to hit a home run in the Astrodome?  In 1965 the Astros played the Yankees in a pre-season exhibition game and the Mick christened the outfield bleachers with the Astrodome’s first home run.”

SO YOUNG…

So there I am watching the news with Dad and a small documentary about Mickey came on, starting with his small town Oklahoma raising all the way to his rise as a New York Yankee superstar.  They went through his entire life and even with all his outstanding accomplishments it took not much more than a minute.  He went from a 19 year old teenage boy to an old man in his 70’s just like that.  Watching his life flash before my eyes, hit me like a wild pitch right in between my numbers.  Right then and there it occurred to me just how short and bittersweet life really is.  I felt a sense of urgency.

LIFE GOES BY IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE

That Sunday morning as I got ready for church, I decided today was going to be the day.  The day I would give my life to Jesus.  Why wait another week?  On the drive to church, I told Mom and Dad the news.  I was nervous and a little scared but I did just fine.  It was without a doubt one of the best days of my life.  I always smile when I see some old footage of Mickey because his life, or I guess you could say his death, gave me that little nudge spiritually.  August 13, 1995 was the day the Mick died and the day I was born again.

STEP UP TO THE PLATE…and SWING!

JACK HIDING FROM MOMMA UNDER THE BLEACHERS

Mickey was known for his performance on the field but he was notorious for his lifestyle off the field as well.  To say that the Mick was wild and rowdy is probably a huge understatement.  The Mick played hard and the Mick partied harder.  He lived reckless because he always assumed he would die at an early age.  His father, his uncle, and many of the men in his family had died in their forties from Hodgkin’s Disease.  He was certain that this would be his fate.  Mantle admitted his hard living had hurt both his playing and his family, saying, “If I’d known I was gonna live this long, I’d have taken a lot better care of myself.”

JAKE SMOKIN’ A LINE DRIVE UP THE MIDDLE (AGE 5)

Honestly, the Mick was never a role model or much of a family man, but he came around in the end.  In fact, some might say he came around at the bottom of the ninth with 2 outs and 2 strikes against him, which kind of makes sense being that the Mick is the all-time leader for walk off game winning home runs.

MICKEY & BOBBY

They televised Mickey Mantle’s funeral on TV.  Bobby Richardson, former Yankee second baseman and teammate of Mickey Mantle, preached the message.  In several of Mickey’s books, he wrote of his friend Richardson’s strong Christian faith and how he admired him for it.  Bobby spoke of Mickey Mantle and of praying with Mickey over the phone, and shared with the crowd about Mickey telling him that he had accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. And when Richardson’s wife had asked Mickey what reason he would give God to let him into Heaven, Mickey quickly quoted John 3:16.

HALL OF FAME NUMBERS!

Mickey Mantle hit 536 home runs, hit 18 World Series home runs, won three American League MVPs, played in 16 All Star games and led his team to 12 World Series, winning seven of them.  He won the Triple Crown and is considered to be one of the best switch hitters of all time.  However, the most important thing Mickey ever did was accepting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. That was his “greatest achievement.”

THE ALL TIME FAVORITE POST GAME SNOW CONE!

Mickey Mantle waited until the bottom of the ninth to give his life to Jesus.  What inning of life are you in?  There’s no reason to wait.  If it’s weighing heavy on your heart, don’t just test the water by dipping a toe in…jump in head first.  Or perhaps I should stick with my baseball analogies… step up to the plate and swing!

What are you waiting for? Don’t wait around till tomorrow because you never know when your last day may be.  Proverbs 27:1

OF COURSE, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BAT GIRL IN TEXAS…IF NOT THE WORLD!

When God calls us to a particular task, we need to respond immediately…doing it now and doing it well.  Throw everything you’ve got, at whatever God gives you to do.

PLAY BALL and GOD BLESS THOSE TEXAS RANGERS 😉

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Published in: on May 3, 2012 at 8:31 pm  Comments (16)  

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16 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I just love reading your blogs! It touches my heart so much that you are not ashamed of your faith in Jesus! I also learned a few things about the Mick! Thank you for the time, effort and love you put into your blogs! Gob bless you and your sweet family! I continue to pray for y’all!

  2. This was a great blog! Brought me to tears, it was exactly what I needed to hear today! Thank you for sharing your blogs and all your wonderful memories! Continuing to pray for you and your family 😉

  3. This was truly moving and a read I will never forget. Thanks Mr.Watson.

  4. Aaron, thank you for what you do in this world today, not only in your music but your family life as well. a church up the street has a message board, they change the message every couple of weeks. During Christmas, the message changed my life. it read, “THE BEST GIFT YOU CAN GIVE ANOTHER, IS A GOOD EXAMPLE.” going through a terrible divorce in which my x wife want s me to have nothing to do with my now 15 month old daughter, you can imagine what that said to me. not only a good example for my daughter, but i need to be a better example as a son, brother, friend, uncle and father. it is now my daily thought, and i pray about it everyday. you my friend are that good example, and i applaud you for it.

  5. Aaron, I always look forward to your blogs because you are such an inspiration. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to compile them. This one was really great and kinda hit me right in the ol’ heart. You are such a blessing in all that you do. I highly admire you for the life that you live and the testimony that you give from it. You do lead by example which is very touching. Prayers are still coming to you and your sweet little family. Oh and by the way your music it not just something to sneeze at Honky Tonk Kid, you are pretty awesome in that field as well.

  6. Thank you. This is just the nudge I needed. I cannot tell you what it means to see you and your wife truly being an example of Christ in the flesh. Blessings to you and yours.

  7. What a beautiful post!

  8. Thank you so much for what you do. I always look forward to reading your blog. My dad’s health is failing after cancer & reading your blog helps. Of course I’m a huge fan of your music & that help too, especially “Barbed Wire Halo”. Thanks again, and may God continue to bless you and your family.

  9. You truly are an amazing person! If we all could be as great a witness as you, there wouldn’t be a lost soul out there. Love your faith and hearing about it makes mine a lil stronger! Keepin your family in my prayers! Bless you and your family!

  10. Hello from Sacto! My son and husband have gone to Stoney’s End to see you a couple of times and they have the most fun every time. We are members of the church, went to Harding (I was secretary, my boys are alumuni) and even though born and raised in San Diego I’ve always loved country music. I had the good fortune to meet Ralph Emery, and he said to me, in his best radio voice, “you were country, when country wasn’t cool” so awesome!! But I digress. I have always told people that I attracted to country music because its about life, positive or negative, drinking your troubles away, cheating or songs of faith, redemption, second chances, looking back with 20/20 hindsight. Also baseball. The year Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky et al scandals filled every newscast there was also a homerun contest going on–Sosa and McGwire, which was the brightest spot in the dismal news. Also on a personal level things were seemingly going crazy (people and events both were crazy) and although my brothers and sisters in Christ were there for me and with me, if it weren’t for Country Music and Baseball providing me with necessary diversion I would have gone crazier than I went! When Daddy died suddenly, my mother gave me two things of his: His folded American Flag, and his Mickey Mantle plate. This is an old lady’s drivel to a busy young and dynamic man, but you, Aaron Watson, with your music, but also your personality and your faithful Christian example, are helping me and my family with all your efforts. Thank you and keep on keepin’ on. God Bless You and Keep You and Yours. In Christian love and thanks, Karen Angel

  11. Ty for being the kind of entertainer, man, christian, and family guy we moms can encourage our sons to look up to. My 18 yr old son who graduates this June 1 from hs and then heads off to a career with United States Air Force loves the song Barbed Wire and Halo knows it word for word and understands it. Ty for your witness thru your music!!!

  12. Aaron, I really enjoy your blog. And the pictures are just precious. Thank you for sharing.
    I lost my only daughter at birth many years ago. You’re right-it’s something you never forget.
    I had three sons and they loved baseball too. This was a very sweet story & I enjoyed reading it. You sure can bring things to life on “paper”!

  13. Aaron, i am an active duty service member and also a huge baseball fan as well. i cant even tell u how many times i had to rewind my vhs copy of the sandlot. But like so many of these others have said, reading your blogs truly makes my day better and makes me think about my life as well. Thanks for you inspiration and mostly your support. Thoughts and prayers continue your family’s way. Thanks and GO RANGERS!!!!

  14. I absolutely love reading your blogs! Yu are an amazing man of God! I am speechless …. Thank you AW!!

  15. My son Mick named after my own boy hood idol Mickey Mantle just saw you in concert in Denver Colorado. He told me about this cool blog,. He sasid he would send me the link. I couldn’t wait so i googled it and found it. Great story. I have been a believer since i was a little boy watching my father, who died 20 years ago last month, coach with a rosary in his pocket. I have shared my faith with lots of baseball players in 35 years of coaching high school baseball. I have shared many stories of faith with lots of my former and present players. This year one of my players decided to give his coach a gift which is a custom at the school I coach at. Usually its some thing humurous. My player Jordan Rouselle changed my life for the better 4 years ago when he came into my life as an incredibly faith filled 9th grader. At the banquet Jordan changed my life forever by giving me the cross he has worn around his neck for the last 4 years as a thank you for me sharing my love of the game and my faith with him. Aaron the greatest game in the world was started in the BIG INNINg by the Greatest Manager of all time. Keep sharing your faith you have moved my son. As for THE MICk and his place in baseball heaven. No worries he’s batting 4th tonight!

  16. Mrs. Watson, my 19 year old daughter convinced me to go to one of your husband’s concerts. She made t-shirts, talked about it for weeks, …the whole 9 yards. I honestly wasn’t interested. I am a teacher. I do not go into bars. But as a mom, you know, we do things for our kids that no one else could ever make us do. And of course the love of my life knows that his little girl has him wrapped so tightly around her finger, she can convince him of pretty much anything. She had seen Aaron many times before – many! Ashley Kate really is his biggest fan – ask anyone. Ha He treats her like he’s known her forever and us too. I know he probably does that with everyone, but I told him I don’t know what she’s going to do when he gets so big (like filling up a stadium – and he will) that she’d have to sit in the nose bleed section instead of right in front of the stage. Ha But I understand what the “hype” was all about. As much as I love your husband’s talent. I SO respect him as a person because he makes it clear about his absolute love for you, his family, and Jesus, and he also is wonderful to his fans. I admire that. If he wasn’t a singer, I’d still feel the same way. So as a person who does not like to read a lot, when my precious child kept asking me to read this Barbwire Halo Blog, I finally sat down and read some of it. I couldn’t read but just a little because my heart just broke for your family. Children mean the world to me too. But this evening I sat down and read it from start to finish – I read parts of it twice. It was 8:15 when I started and 2:00 when I finished. I sit here in awe of you both. There are no words I can say to you and Aaron. Both of your blogs are inspiring and have faith unwavering. I need that. You don’t know us, but thank you so much for sharing your family’s life with my family. You are an amazing person! Please just know that I am praying for your family. At the end of my personal notes to my kindergarten parents I always say “Thank you for sharing your gift from God with me.” Julia Grace is an unbelievable precious gift from God. And your children are so incredibly blessed to have you two as their parents. Thank you for sharing your story with me. God Bless you both!


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