Two deaths in the past week brought back some memories.
One you probably read about. The other, probably not.
Pascqual Perez was a pitcher for a number of teams, but his best years were with the Atlanta Braves in the 1980s. He made the All-Star team for them in 1983.
Perez was murdered in the Dominican Republic earlier this week, a tragic end for a man whose promising career was hindered by drug issues.
Brad Armstrong was a pro wrestler who performed for a number of prominent promotions, including the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling, which aired on TBS.
Armstrong was a tremendous performer, the son of legendary grappler "Bullet" Bob Armstrong. Brad died earlier this week at the age of 51.
These two men probably never met, but they were linked by the fact that their performances often aired on Ted Turner's TBS, which took regional names and exposed them to a national audience.
On Saturday, when I was flipping through the channels looking for a college football game, I came across an airing of "The King of Queens."
TBS sure has changed.
Now, the network is like any other national network. It has its own sitcoms. It has baseball championship series. It has Conan O'Brien.
But when I was growing up in the 1980s and '90s, TBS - the Turner Broadcasting Network (Ted was/is, modest, no?) - was known for three things.
* Atlanta Braves baseball.
* Professional wrestling.
* "Andy Griffith" re-runs.
I never watched much "Andy Griffith." But I would watch any baseball game growing up, and ended up becoming familiar with the Braves. In the pre-Greg Maddux, John Glavine years, the Braves were a bad team that were only on nationally because their billionaire owner needed programming for his network.
And until the mid-'80s, a big part of the Braves was the pitching of Perez. He spent four seasons in Atlanta, winning 29 games between 1984 and '85. I'll confess that most of my knowledge about Perez at the time was sketchy because I was so young, but he stood out because of his quirky pitching delivery.
If the Braves weren't on, it was likely wrestling was. I still remember Armstrong having matches with Flyin' Brian Pillman, the former Cincinnati Bengal. Both were young, and it seemed they had long careers, and lives, ahead of them.
When I think about those days, the voice of Skip Caray on baseball games, Perez pitching, Armstrong wrestling, it seems like forever ago.
And that's when it hits you: It wasn't.
And that's what's so sad (especially in Perez's case, given the circumstances). When I think of growing up, watching the Braves and watching wrestling, it was a different world.
Southern wrestling, on the national level, is gone. The Braves are no longer broadcast on TBS. Armstrong, Perez, Caray, even Pillman are all dead. All died young.
James Taylor had a song on his 1988 album "Never Die Young" called "Letter in the Mail," which had lyrics about the way things used to be. One of the verses has the character driving alone, as he's able to "pay my last respects to a time that has all but gone."
In some ways, that's what I'm trying to do here. I'm sure TBS is more profitable now than it was 30 years ago, but I often long for the days when it had a personality that wasn't defined by Tyler Perry shows or any attempt to be hip.
Ted Turner's network may not have been hip, but it felt real (pro wrestling's authenticity notwithstanding).
Perez and Armstrong's deaths are sad for so many reasons.
But I am glad they were part of something I really enjoyed, and I thank them for that.
Zach Baker is the sports editor for The Advertiser-Tribune
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