Charlie Daniels: Super Fan Part 1 - Soapbox Jr.
Super Bowl LV is in the books, and it made me realize that I’ve written several things about my dad in the recent months, but very little about one of his passions, sports.
Dad loved most all of the major sports. I don’t think he ever really warmed up to hockey like a large section of Middle Tennessee did when the Nashville Predators started becoming competitive, but I don’t think there was a whole lot of hockey going on when dad was growing up in North Carolina and Georgia.
I don’t think he was much on soccer either, I know I’m not… personally, I think soccer is a plot to force a globalist agenda on us. I'm kidding, of course… Well, kind of…
But back to hockey, we did attend a couple of Predators games when dad performed our National Anthem at a couple of Stanley Cup Semi-Final games a few years ago, Bridgestone Arena went wild. He also performed with the house band in-between periods once or twice.
Dad was a bigger fan of baseball, at least he was until the strike in 1994/1995, and then he never really recaptured the love of the game like he had before the strike.
I haven’t been a huge baseball fan since I was a kid, but dad was a huge Braves fan when I was younger, and specifically a huge fan of Hank Aaron, who sadly passed away recently, so I was too.
I remember watching Hank break Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974 when we were living in a house we built in Mt. Juliet, it was something special for sure.
In 1992, we went to Atlanta to watch the Braves take on the Toronto Blue Jays in game 6 of the World Series.
Despite not having followed much baseball as I got older, this was an electric atmosphere, unfortunately for the home team fans, the Braves lost to the Blue Jays and they won the Series.
It was also one of the last things we ever got to do with my grandmother, LaRue. Shortly after the World Series, LaRue (she never wanted to be called “grandma” or anything along those lines, Just LaRue) had been diagnosed with a blockage that would require exploratory surgery.
Sadly, that turned out to be pancreatic cancer, and she was gone less than six months later. She was a wonderful and loving woman who lived life to the fullest the last few years of her life.
Dad never got into basketball much except with the NCAA tournament rolled around, but every March, he was glued to the TV right down to the final game.
But dad’s real passion was football, both college and the pros.
He loved it all.
He was a huge Tennessee Vols fan, and even performed at the halftime of a nationally televised game against the Crimson Tide in 1980.
The way I recall it, during the halftime report, the studio cut back to the field where the CDB was performing, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” and legendary college play-by-play announcer, Keith Jackson, said, “Let’s join The Charlie Daniels Band on the field,” right as dad got to the iconic line, “I done told you once you S.O.B, I’m the best there’s ever been!” And time may have colored my memory, but I remember a startled Keith Jackson saying something to the effect of, “Whoa Nellie, I think we came back just a little early…”
Alabama won that game 27-0, so other than the halftime show, it’s a pretty bad memory for a Vols fan.
Dad also performed at another Tennessee Alabama halftime in 2002, it was a great halftime show, another not-so-great outcome for Tennessee, as the Crimson Tide won 34-14. I blame CDB bass player, Charlie Hayward. Charlie, who was born in Alabama wore a crimson red shirt as the rest of the band wore orange jerseys, but I understand rivalries run deep in the SEC.
The first professional game I attended was in Pittsburgh in 1980 when the Steelers played the Miami Dolphins. The CDB performed “In America,” at halftime which contained the line, “Just go and lay your hand on a Pittsburgh Steelers fan,” and the stadium was rocking with tens of thousands of Terrible Towels twisting in the wind.
I remember watching a lot of football with dad when I was growing up. Back when I was a kid, Tennessee didn’t have a professional team, so we were Dallas Cowboys fans since they were on TV so often as “America’s Team,” but people wondered if dad was a Cowboys fan, why he chose Pittsburgh for the song, “In America.” He said it was primarily about the blue-collar working-class image of the fans which prompted him to put them in the song.
So, when I was growing up, we were Cowboys fans first, and probably Falcons fans second, since we got quite a few games locally because of the proximity to Atlanta, but our AFC team was the Houston Oilers, which years later would become pretty significant for the “Tennessee Midlands,” as dad used to call it, but more on that next time.
What do you think?
Pray for our troops, our police, the peace of Jerusalem and for our nation.
God Bless America!
— Charlie Daniels, Jr.
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