Q: When did you start collecting the items that can be seen displayed on the walls of your den?
A: By no means do I consider myself to be a sports memorabilia collector. It’s just things I have acquired over the years. All the signed baseballs you see, unless they were a gift, I’ve gotten them all by happenstance. I don’t get online and look and order things. The majority of the stuff I have is really not of any value to anyone but me.
Q: Does that mean that most of these items have an interesting backstory?
A: Everything has a story, a meaning to me. We’ve lived here 8 years now, and before we moved here, I didn’t have a place to display it, so everything was in crates. That autograph of Johnny Bench up there is my very first autograph from when I was 10 or 11 years old. I still have my first tickets from a baseball game I went to with my Dad and brother.
There’s a picture hanging over there of the boys riding on the team bus with Jackie Sherrill. The year after it was taken, we got him to sign it for them. It’s probably my favorite thing in the room.
Q: Do you have any other favorite pieces?
My first job out of school was at a hotel in Tuscaloosa. When the sports teams came to play Alabama, that’s where they stayed. LSU came through, and that’s when Shaquille O’Neal played for them. He came in and signed a newspaper article that I have framed.
I also have things that no one would ever know are of any value. There are beads hanging from my Saints helmet. Deuce McAllister threw those from the float at the Super Bowl parade. I stuffed those in my jacket pocket because I thought it was cool.
Q: How did you first become interested in sports?
A: My grandfather died when I was really young, and my grandmother remarried. My step-grandfather played minor league baseball, and he’s the one who first taught me how to throw a baseball and how to talk baseball.
Q: Tell me about your cowbells.
A: Two of those are Spencer’s, my son who is going to Mississippi State this year. One of them is Harris’s, my other son, who went to Ole Miss. Maybe one day, he will come back and get that cowbell. He grew up a bulldog. One I got when I graduated from Mississippi State, but I have had to retire it to the shelf, and get a new one.
Q: I see a lot of other teams represented here, too. Are these all the teams you cheer for or do you just pick things up along the way?
A: I’ve always been a big Cubs fan. We went to Wrigley this year for a game. In the ‘70s, I was a fan of the Cincinnati Reds. I grew up near Ocean Springs, Miss., so I have always been a Saints fan as well. The two pennant flags hanging up are from my room when I was a baby. If you look close on the Packers flag, you can see where I traced the letters with crayon. I’ve just carried all these things around with me. I actually built the frames that they now hang in.
Q: Do you host people here often?
A: Sometimes. It was really a space for me and the boys. We would sit up here a lot together. When Harris went to college, it was me and Spencer. Now, he’s leaving for college soon, so it’s gotten a bit more lonely up here.
Q: So, watching sports is a family hobby?
A: This is what I tell people all the time: sports is a pleasant diversion for me.