Cul­ber­son, Braves pas­sion; Sum­mer youth sports camps

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS WEDNESDAY -

This col­umn con­tained a ques­tion weeks ago just as the Ma­jor League sea­son was get­ting un­der­way. The ques­tion is even more ap­pli­ca­ble to­day that it was when first asked. The ques­tion was “What is there not to like about Char­lie Cul­ber­son?”

There is pos­si­bly no need for an ex­pla­na­tion but it is wor­thy to note that Char­lie played for Coach Chip Hen­der­son on his Cal­houn High School re­gion and state cham­pi­onship teams.

Af­ter climb­ing to the Ma­jors and play­ing for a cou­ple of teams Char­lie be­came a mem­ber of our home­town At­lanta Braves. Iron­i­cally, it is that des­ig­na­tion as “home­town” used in de­scrib­ing Char­lie by the broad­cast and print me­dia out of At­lanta. There are two ci­ties in North Ge­or­gia who can claim Char­lie as their own: Rome and Cal­houn.

The Cul­ber­son fam­ily has long been syn­ony­mous with base­ball in North­west Ge­or­gia. Cal­houn High ex­pe­ri­enced a con­nec­tion to the Cul­ber­son’s for years by rea­son of them liv­ing in the Model School area. Leon Cul­ber­son (Char­lie’s grand­fa­ther) hit a home run for the Bos­ton Red Sox in the 1946 World Se­ries. It was a mat­ter of pride with this writer that a player from Shan­non, Ga. was in the Ma­jor Leagues.

Jim was an ath­lete at Model High around my age. Then there is Char­lie’s dad who was a prom­i­nent ath­lete him­self. The Cul­ber­son name was prom­i­nent in the adult North­west Ge­or­gia Tex­tile League back in the 1940s with Cal­houn and Shan­non’s teams meet­ing up on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

With all the above said (I will leave it to Alex to give the par­tic­u­lars) Char­lie has greatly widened the ex­cite­ment about his play with the Braves with each of his great games. As an ex­am­ple – and I am sure it can be true of many – Coach Diane Smith has be­gun to sched­ule her ac­tiv­i­ties around the Braves TV sched­ule. She also ex­pressed warm sen­ti­ments by say­ing that she was so proud of Char­lie that she would nearly cry when he played and is in­ter­viewed.

Alex got to take his father to the Sun­day game. For one who went to 39 games in 1966 – the Braves first year in At­lanta and be­fore I-75 was even close to be fin­ished – there is doubt I will see an­other “live” game. Years do that to one. Be­cause of phys­i­cal ail­ments there will be no ef­fort to make the trip to ex­pe­ri­ence the love for the Braves up close and per­sonal. That feel­ing has been in this heart since 1950 when Earl Mann, owner of the At­lanta Crack­ers, signed a work­ing agree­ment with the Bos­ton Braves and Ed­die Mathews was an 18-year-old slug­ger for the Crack­ers.

Right now, all loyal Braves fans can en­joy the early-sea­son suc­cess of the Braves and our own Char­lie Cul­ber­son’s con­tri­bu­tion. He will be some­one fans can tell their grand­chil­dren about.

School is out for the sum­mer. With that break in aca­demics and ath­letic com­pe­ti­tion be­tween schools come the sports camps for the youth of our county. Soon we will see pic­tures in this pa­per of the hun­dreds of young­sters who at­tended camps as­so­ci­ated with Gor­don Cen­tral, Cal­houn and Sono­rav­ille Schools.

We would be in­con­sis­tent if it were not pointed out that there will be camps with em­pha­sis on var­i­ous as­pects of the per­form­ing arts and some aca­demic ar­eas. It would be nearly crim­i­nal if I tried to go into an area of which I am ig­no­rant. In­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing the camps is made pub­lic in var­i­ous ways.

Some­one might ques­tion the worth of camps for lit­tle ones. One or two ob­ser­va­tions are wor­thy of at­ten­tion: First, par­tic­i­pa­tion in a camp will not au­to­mat­i­cally make a young­ster an ex­tremely-skilled ath­lete. The par­tic­i­pa­tion will ex­pose our young to con­cepts, to skills and to at­ti­tudes nec­es­sary to be suc­cess­ful in their cho­sen pur­suit. Those who end up per­form­ing and com­pet­ing at older ages are those who stay the course and dili­gently ap­ply them­selves to those val­ues to which they have ex­posed and taught.

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