Click on link to watch Studio Statesboro segment on the Stuckey family:
The word itself brings to mind much that has been good about Americana for more than 100 years. Right here in Bulloch County, three generations of the Stuckey family have made baseball a focus of their lives. The family's home is full of the signs of their love of the game.
During the holiday season, a gorgeous Christmas wreath greets guests as they approach the Stuckey home. Or is it?
It isn't until you get close to the house, however, you realize that instead of bearing Christmas ornaments the wreath has baseball cards of the family's favorite players, each bearing that player's autograph.
Joseph Stuckey II first began collecting cards at a young age, and his son Joseph Stuckey III followed in his footsteps. Now, at the age of 13, Joseph Stuckey IV has accepted the mantle of "baseball fan," along with his younger brother Corey, mother Shellie Thompson Stuckey, and his dad, who said "Baseball is the center of our family time."
Now, add to their love of baseball the fact that they just learned that Shellie is related to baseball great and Banks County, Georgia native, Ty Cobb. It turns out Shellie's great-great-great grandmother Lucinda's sister Sicily's daughter Amanda married Ty Cobb's dad, William Herchel Cobb.
"I always knew baseball was in my blood, too," Shellie Stuckey said. "I realized that it was either get involved or be left out in the cold, so I'm right there with them at the games and all the other events."
She even admits that, "I'm not above jumping over tables and chairs when there's a chance of getting a good autograph."
She even helped young Joseph become the Savannah Sand Gnat batboy for 2007 and 2008. The family was sitting at the opening day Sand Gnat minor league baseball game in 2007 when she was conked on the head by a rock thrown by someone else's child. Stuckey actually was taken from the game by an ambulance to the hospital.
When Sand Gnat representatives arrived at the hospital to see how she was doing, they asked what they could do to compensate her for this most unfortunate event. Always quick-on-the draw, she responded by telling them to let her son become their batboy. The team agreed.
As a result, the family got to see not only all the home games at famed Grayson Stadium but the away games as well. This unrestricted access allowed Joseph to see many of the best players in the minor leagues at the time, and to begin collecting the record of their climbs to fame and fortune.
One such player is pitcher Tim Lincecum. Selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 48th round in the 2003 draft, and the Cleveland Indians in the 42nd round of the 2005 draft, he didn't sign until 2006 when he was drafted by the Giants as the tenth pick overall. Known to many as "The Franchise," Lincecum captured the Cy Young Awards for both 2008 and 2009.
Going through the living and family rooms, it's difficult to decide what piece of memorabilia to stare at first. Joseph IV says his favorite is the shadow box with a piece of a broken baseball bat signed by one of his favorite players that he got at a minor league game.
Also, there is the framed pair of batting gloves he was given when standing outside the opposing team's dugout after a game; while another favorite is the signed jersey from another one of his favorite players while he was still in the minors hanging in a frame on the same wall.
Across the room is a display of baseball pins the family has traded for at numerous fan events over the past several years. Joseph IV said "the Atlanta Braves used to have a pin trading wall at Braves Stadium but they had to take it down because people began stealing the pins."
And finally, there are the baseball cards. Boxes and boxes full of the cards of most of the players on Major League teams: some are ‘commons,' just regular cards; some are special limited edition ‘chase' cards; some are already autographed in the pack; and some are regular cards that the family has gotten autographed. For Joseph IV, it's easy to explain why he has such a passion for baseball.
"Baseball is something that will always be here. Nothing, not even the players' strikes and the owner's greed, can take that away from us. It will always come back. Baseball is, and will always be, a part of our lives."