Brandon Joseph Bateman, 37, of Forney, TX, and forever “Mr. Kenner, LA”, passed away unexpectedly, yet surrounded in love and in my arms, from a series of traumatic brain injuries on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. He was the adored husband of Jennifer Hirdes, and the father of our four children, Brayden, Briar, Jagger and Breaux Bateman.
Brandon was born in New Orleans, LA, to Joey and Cindy Bateman. In his early years, Brandon was part of the Moisant Street Gang, a lively group of neighborhood children. Brandon, an only child, considered the people of this street his family. He was known by his infallible friendship with Randy West and Jesse Smith. They were the brothers he never had. He was raised by his doting grandma Ruth and Aunt Nancy. He was their sun, stars and moon. He was the precious son in law of Joy Hirdes and Gustavo Gonzalez. He also had an undeniable love from that of his Aunt Niki and Uncle Mike, Aunt Teri and Uncle Kirk, and Uncle Scott and a slew of cousins.
Brandon was a star athlete on the playing field in all sports, showing signs of excellence at an early age. He played youth sports at Butch Duhe and Highway Park Playgrounds in Kenner, LA. He was annually chosen for the All Star Teams and proud to represent the city of Kenner all over Louisiana. His first love was baseball, where he was given the name “BamBam” by his dad, Joey Bateman. He will always be known for how pitching came with ease, homeruns even easier. Manning third base was his territory. He was chosen player of the week in the local newspapers at least every month and was honored as MVP more times than his family could count.
At East Jefferson High School in Metairie, LA, Brandon’s athletic abilities continued to shine bright. As a true freshman, he was a varsity baseball starter where he remained throughout his high school career. After graduation, Brandon hung up his cleats for a little while and he was ready to get work.
In 2007 Brandon was given an amazing job opportunity by Ricky Rodriguez with the French Riviera Fitness Center on Earhardt Blvd. in New Orleans. That job would change the course of his life. Although Brandon always said the school of hardknocks and the streets taught him how to sell, it was this experience that opened his life up to so much more. He and I met because of that gym. We both worked there and adored our jobs and each other. We always said our favorite story to tell was how we met. We loved when people asked us. We forever owe a debt to the French for our family.
When Brandon was 24 we had our first son, Brayden. As Brayden turned 3, Brandon signed him up for tee-ball and signed himself up as the coach. It was at this time that one of his former coaches approached him and asked him if he would like to coach on side of him at Galatas Playground in Kenner, LA. He always said he owed his coaching experience to Conrad Berniard and Johnny Bergeron. They handed over the keys to the fields and let him lead Galatas and Kenner Allstars to many victories for the 11, 12 and 13 year old boys. He had so many men that he looked up to as fathers, and he always said he could never repay you all enough for loving him even when it was hard.
In 2015, Brandon started a new adventure. He was determined to find the meaning of his life. He packed up and headed to Monroe, LA, for many reasons, but he always said it was to find himself and save his family. It was in this experience that I watched Brandon come back to life. He found more brothers and more opportunities. We found each other again, and I lived for my every other weekend drives up there to sit by the water and have a cup of coffee with him and watch him and Brayden become a force in this world. There are so many people he felt he owed his success to, but, Matt and Martin, you two were his life lines. I thank God for you all and your dedication to the program and to love the least of these. You two were his shelter in the time of the roughest storms. In 2016, Brandon was knocking on doors selling AT&T U-Verse in Monroe. One door in particular opened up the opportunity of a lifetime. Mr. Shannon Noblit, I think we can all imagine what you saw in him that day, but to offer a stranger knocking on your door a sales position with a company like Smitty’s on the spot never truly made sense to us. He always thought it was too good to be true. Due to this opportunity, Brandon moved our young family from New Orleans to the Dallas area to become the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex Territory Sales Manager for Smitty’s Supply of Roseland, LA. Many people do not know, but the very day Brandon was offered that position was the very day we found out we were expecting Briar. It was all God. Brandon’s former manager and friend with Smitty’s shared these words with us: “Brandon was not just an amazing coworker, he was that guy,” said Jeff Kupers. “That guy that somehow produced incredible sales numbers but found the energy each day to give his family quality time.” Kupers added, “He had his finger on the pulse of the market and gave his customers a level of service that no one could match. His customers knew that he was their guy in the oil business.”
At the time of his death, Brandon was the regional sales manager for Bi-Lo Wholesale in Dennison, TX. “Brandon was a very energetic, dedicated team player, always trying to find ways to one up himself and improve,” said Bi-Lo Wholesale co-owners Kerrie Hunt and Kenneth Gouge. “We loved to see his desire to grow, and he was always looking forward to higher ground. We never had to worry about Brandon. We always knew he would hold his own and serve us loyally,” Hunt said. “Brandon’s shoes will be extremely hard to fill, and he will be extremely missed.”
His career successes were astounding, but one of his most favorite successes came from his baseball organization. Brandon founded and became the head coach of Vortex Baseball in his living room on Easter Sunday 2017 in Forney. Vortex would grow to become a select youth baseball team developed with his son Brayden and his friends in mind, but let me make this clear that this was not daddy ball. We were always on the go, heading to the fields or out of town for a tournament. He and Brayden would wake up on tournament days like it was Christmas, get dressed and load the truck up like it was their most important job. Watching him coach in this stage became an art form. He kept all people in the stands and on the field entertained. His forever role model was Buttermaker, Walter Matthau’s character in “The Bad News Bears”. It was his home screen on his phone. People always say your home screen speaks volumes on who you are. Vortex didn’t always play like the Bad News Bears, but when they had their moments he would remind them it was time to get their heads out of their asses. Mike Hannigan, a friend of Brandon, the coach of Brayden’s football team and one of the assistant coaches to Brandon said he and Brandon had a lot in common in the fact they both coached youth sports. “What stands out more than anything was Brandon’s dedication to the kids and the families associated with them. The time he spent away from his own family to make my son a better player and better young man is unmeasurable. I never wanted Trey to play for another coach, and Trey felt the same way.” One of the team moms on our team, Crystal Rees, who also considered Brandon to be family shared, “Brandon was more than a coach to these boys; he was a role model, a friend, a critic, a confidant, and someone that pulled the best out of them. He truly loved his boys and wanted to see them succeed in all they did.” Brandon never let money get in the way of his boys playing. If a kid wanted to play and he had room for them he found a way to get them on that field, even if it meant coming out of his own pocket. He believed everyone needed a chance to step in between the lines.
Brandon was the most amazing human I have ever known. He was charismatic, compassionate, determined, energetic, a go getter; he was a coach in every aspect of his life. He was an amazing friend and guy to have in your corner. He expected greatness of himself and all whom he surrounded himself with. He was my dance partner; man, did he love to dance. He was so freaking funny. He could talk to anyone, and I always said he could sell ice to an eskimo. He was meticulous and OCD to the point that he drove everyone he encountered crazy, but kept us all in check. He was my cleaning lady; he could organize like no other. He was the yin to my yang, type A to my type B. He was always dressed to the 9’s even if he was just in his athletic lounge gear. His hair was impeccable, and he had a standing weekly appointment with his barber that no one and no thing was going to get in the way of. I used to watch him get out the shower and get ready, and I was amazed at the routine he kept in check from the time he was a kid. He despised laziness, and his favorite term was “get shit done.” He didn’t take no for an answer. If the answer was no, he ALWAYS found a loophole. He knew how to have the most fun; life was always a party with him, and you never wanted for anything in his presence. He entertained you, he fed you, he made sure that you were happy, or you were going to get the shirt off of his back in order to get happy. He put on the most amazing firework shows. He ran to the gas station 15 times a day for God knows what; sometimes I think just to talk to the lady who worked there. He was frugal and didn’t have to be. He was adamant that the family would have water at a restaurant instead of a cold drink because that 10 dollars was better in his pockets than the restaraunts. And he gave the best freaking hugs.
Brandon was a superstar in all he did. In baseball both as a player and a coach, in work, and in how he loved me and the kids. He was hard as hell on our kids, but he was determined to have them walk a different road than he did. “Do as I say, not as I do or have done” mentality 100%. He worked hard to lead by example and, as any human does, sometimes fell short. His shortcomings would eat him up in the silence of his soul.
All of these attributes made Brandon the man the world came to know and love, but becoming this way didn’t come easy, and it came with a hard price. Being a perfectionist and always wanting to be #1 was a huge driver of his anxiety and depression. He always felt like he wasn’t good enough, or that he could have done more. He felt he was letting someone or something down. Brandon carried so much hurt. So much pain. By the time he was 26 he lost both of his parents and grandparents. He lost friends. He turned to many things in life for comfort and, unfortunately, walked through the hell that many people know as addiction. Many people who knew brandon knew he fought this demon, but many did not. He fought like hell to get sober. He fought like hell to be a man the world could be proud of. I often told those around me that I just didn’t know how he woke up most days. Brandon had been through and experienced stuff no person ever should and, to be honest, you wouldn’t even believe if you knew the stories. Although he had found sobriety and had his spiritual awakening, he still struggled with anxiety and depression. He missed his parents terribly. He was surrounded by 4 amazing kids and always had a huge hole in his life. His kids, his job, his coaching filled so much of his pain, but his grief was huge.
I thank God everyday for giving Brandon the gift of sobriety; for waking him up from out of that slumber. I thank God for giving me the gift of Brandon: the good, the bad, and the oh so very ugly. He wasn’t perfect at the walk. He still had high highs and low lows, but ultimately his departure from us was not because of this beast. The fact that he walked out of this earth with his dignity and name in tact when he could have left us in so many other ways is surprisingly comforting in this devastating loss. I pray that you all will take notes from Brandon’s life and be a good human. Sometimes it’s within the least and the lost that the most beautiful souls live.
To our beautiful children:
Brayden: You had your dad for 12 years. You walked the hardest road with us. You were born to two young kids who didn’t know much about life. We learned to grow up with you. You endured a lot with us. But at the end of the day you have had the best of your dad. From the time he went to Monroe to the time we moved to Texas it was all about you. You saw someone literally rise from the ashes and make something of themselves when the whole world wrote him off. It was all about giving you the best life. He saw the greatness in you that was seen in him. His greatest joy was watching you on the field whether it be baseball or watching you shine tackle the hell out of people in football. Your ability to read the field, to take charge, to coach and play like he did is the most amazing attribute he could have ever given you. I know you say all he did was yell at you, but you and I both know that’s not true (although I know he was hard on you.) He was your biggest cheerleader. You were his first born. His best job he ever did was being your dad. All he wanted to do was teach you how to sell. He wanted to own a business with you. He wanted you to have the best parts of him, and I know you do. You have the absolute best parts of him. You and I will forever walk a broken hearted road together, but we will be okay. We will fight, we will cry, we will ask why, we will grieve; but above all we will keep him alive. Him and all his crazy. Dad and I sat outside of Dr. Grahams office in Metairie the day we found out we were having a boy. His dream was coming true. He wanted a junior, but didn’t want to curse you with his name so he took his name, changed it by two letters, and named you. You are his keepsake, you are his junior, and he was so very proud of you and to be your dad.
Briar: Daddy always said you were the missing puzzle piece we never knew we needed. Your daddy and I found out God put you in my belly the very same day he got the job offer to move to Texas. There is no bigger sign of God in this world than that. Your presence in our life put this family back together and built it back piece by piece in a way I never dreamed possible. You were daddy’s little sidekick. You helped him do anything around this house no matter how crazy his idea was. You and he were going to get it done. You are as persistent and determined as him. You, my girl, also do not take no for an answer. I know he snuggled and comforted you better than mommy, but it is now my life’s mission to figure out how to be more of a gentle soul like him for the sake of keeping him alive in your heart. When daddy named you he was so proud. He was living in Texas, and I was still in New Orleans. He called me so excited and said, “We have a name, Jen,” and I said, “I know her name is Tatum”, and he said, “NO its Briar. I just heard a girl tell her story in a meeting, and our daughter is to be named Briar.” He always said you would be unique like your name.
Jagger: Our third surprise, Baby Jags. He just adored you. You made him laugh and laugh. Your personality is ruthless. He called you our sour patch. He loved to dance with you. He was the best at giving you your bedtime routine. He loved bathtime with you and putting you to bed. He loved even more waking up to the sounds of “dada” in the morning. No one got you out of your crib better and ready for the day. You look just like him and you are tough as nails like him too. He would call you the little muscle as you would run zoomies all over this house, and he just adored the energy you brought into this home. When God gave us you he said, “Boy or girl this baby will be named Jagger because I know this one will do great things.”
Breaux: Oh, sweet baby Breaux. You only had 6 short months with daddy, but no doubt were you wanted and loved. He adored you. You are the families little “chunkachoo”. You always snuggled up in Daddy’s arms and were perfectly content. When he named you he said, “Jen, imagine it, under the lights in Alex Box Stadium: Stepping up to the plate, Breaux Bateman.” He would then mimick the sound of the crowd and say, “Bam! He knocks it out the park!” He wanted your name to be so Cajun he said, “He may be born a Texan, but them Cajun roots will always be deep”. My heart breaks that you won’t know him, however, I am starting to think you will be more like him than any of us will be able to handle. God knew Daddy’s work was almost done, and that myself and your brother and sisters needed you!