I’m watching the ballgame with a ghost this afternoon. Braves versus the Brewers. The ghost visits during important games like this.

He doesn’t drink beer or eat peanuts anymore—since he’s only a memory. Still, I put out a bowl of parched peanuts just the same.

He used to eat the heck out of peanuts. He’d crack them open and make a string of jokes that weren’t even funny. The ghost is notorious for ridiculous jokes.

But he’s not shelling peanuts tonight. And no jokes. He is sitting on the sofa beside me. Legs crossed. Hands folded behind his head.

He never ages. That’s one of the perks of being a ghost. He looks the same as when he died. Skinny. Lanky legs. He is loose built, and all freckles. He places his size-thirteen bare feet on my coffee table.

“Get your feet off that,” I say.

“Why?” he says. “I’m a ghost.”

That’s not the point, it’s the principle.

So we’re watching TV halfheartedly. We’ve got too much to talk about to focus exclusively on the game. It’s been a long time since I last saw him.

This is a good series. The ghost and I are pulling for the Braves. I’d rather lick a billy goat between the eyes than see the Bravos lose to the Brewers. But you can’t have everything.

The ghost wears an Atlanta ball cap.

Funny story about his hats. When he was alive he owned a million ball caps, but had never paid for a single one. This is because he was a steelworker who dangled from iron rafters, welding. Often, he worked on roller coasters.

People lose hats on roller coasters.

Once, he took me to an amusement park during business hours. He unlocked a chain link fence to a secure area beneath a roller coaster. When the roller-cars made their upside-down loops, it rained ball caps. Fifteen or twenty hats fell, every ride.

After a few weeks, he’d collected caps from every American League and National League team.

That is, except the Dodgers. We didn’t keep those hats. We disposed of those with an acetylene blow torch.

So the ghost is telling a story. It’s one I’ve heard before. But I still like it.

I close my eyes and remember his exact timbre. Usually, it only comes in dreams. And even those are getting fewer between. But tonight it’s real.

The ghost is a baseball fanatic. In fact, his love of it overshadows his interest in activities like hunting, fishing, camping, and yard work.

The ghost wanted to be a pitcher once, they say he was good. He tried out for semi-pro ball clubs, but didn’t make it.

The ghost claims he’s never been a winner.

“Ain’t never won a thing in my life,” he’d often say. “Never.”

And it was true. I never saw him win a single thing when he was alive. This genetic trait got passed to me. I’m no winner, either. Never have been. Winning makes me too uncomfortable. I’d rather place fifth. Or sixth. Or not at all.

The TV gets louder. The game is a nail-biter. Both teams are turning this matchup into a knife-fight. The ghost and I let conversation fade so we can pay attention. I turn my head to watch the ghost. He’s too engrossed in a boy’s game to notice me. God. He was beautiful.

Braves lose.

The ghost never touched his peanuts.


  1. oldlibrariansshelf - October 9, 2021 6:58 am

    Thanks, Sean. My father-in-law was a Braves fan. He was also one of the good guys. It is so sad that suicide took your dad but he left behind a winner in you. After all, you married a great woman and you get to be on television in insurance commercials. God is good.

  2. Debbie g - October 9, 2021 7:25 am

    Not a winner. Now that’s a joke Ask us who read your words if you are a winner !! Go champ Love you and Jamie. And love to all

  3. Eileen - October 9, 2021 7:58 am

    Sean, how often have you heard “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” ?
    You play fair and square. Your writing hits a home run with so many fans. Thank you for putting it out there in the ballpark. ⚾️

  4. Sonya Tuttle - October 9, 2021 10:02 am

    What a blessing to be with the beloved ghost! Thanks for sharing, it felt like a blessing to me as well.

  5. stephenpe - October 9, 2021 10:32 am

    Winning is all in your head. Winning at life is not the same as winning in specific contests or with material things. Winning is uplifting other human beings. I would say you are much close to that finish line than many people.

  6. William J Adams - October 9, 2021 11:41 am

    Love reading your columns.. stories, insights, and thinkabouts… quite obviously. we all relate to them at our core… which doesn’t happen that often in this fast-paced world. Except it’s almost guaranteed…when reading your stuff. Another great one…..

  7. Donna - October 9, 2021 12:00 pm

    This morning I woke at dawn, oozing out of a vivid dream. It was the most tangible dream of him in the nine years since he died. He looked strong and healthy like before he got sick and he was wearing the brown leather jacket I gave him and a Stetson hat. We were at a funeral party where he came to say goodbye to everyone. We were waxing his car, something he never did in life. He drove a truck. After he left, I sat on the sidewalk, sobbing, doubled over in grief. He came back and told me he wanted me to have his newly-waxed car and one of his horses. I can still smell his leather jacket and I knew he loved me.

  8. Paul McCutchen - October 9, 2021 12:08 pm

    Growing up in The Delta of Arkansas we were to far from any pro teams of any kind. The closest pro team was the Memphis Chicks. I believe they were an “A” ball team so we didn’t follow anyone. Shoot with only the three major TV stations and PBS we were also limited to what was on the tv. It is nice to read and imagine how it must have been to follow a team and be a fanatical fan. Thanks Sean. Say Hi to Jamie

  9. Pete Tucker - October 9, 2021 1:31 pm

    My daughter, Dr. Suzanne Allen, is a big fan of your writings.

  10. Dave Compton - October 9, 2021 1:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing your current and past lives with us. As often as you mention the difficulties you had growing up with and without a father, I often wonder how you would have turned out had you been placed on this Earth in a more ‘perfect’ world with a more ‘perfect’ father. I am one of those who grew up in a pretty ‘normal’ family with both parents in tact surrounded by loving siblings. But, I think the good Lord put me there because He figured I couldn’t handle the opposite surroundings. Perhaps I wouldn’t be enjoying your daily stories had you been a product of an environment like the one I experienced? Or, heaven forbid, grew up a Cubs fan.
    Go Braves!

  11. Heather - October 9, 2021 1:57 pm

    Are you kidding me? The ghost never won anything?? He won you for a son: a son who turned himself into a first class writer, a weaver of words. The words you mesh together make me laugh at the similes, or make my eyes water at a quick speed. The ghost probably went back into ghost world at the end of that game. It was a nail-biter. Anyway, he’ll be back to share the next Braves game with a Braves hat on, and say thanks for letting me sit here with you.

  12. Ruth Mitchell - October 9, 2021 2:30 pm

    Sometimes I tear up at your entries, but today I sobbed. How wonderful it is that you can still so vividly capture the presence of your dad. I lost my daddy when I was eleven (I’m 76 now), and I have so few memories left that I can recall. I envy you.

  13. Harriet - October 9, 2021 2:55 pm

    That was one of your best writings. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

  14. DAVID A WILSON - October 9, 2021 3:38 pm

    Good writing/story; seems we all have our on GHOSTS!

  15. Linda Moon - October 9, 2021 4:08 pm

    He’s your daddy, the visiting ghost….I read and surmised in the first paragraph here before I continued on. My ghost smoked the heck out of cigarettes. He didn’t tell jokes, but always used nicknames—as in “Schnikelfritz” and “Doodlumsquat”. Those two were exclusively mine, and so were the lanky legs he passed on to me. Like your daddy, mine was some kind of beautiful, too!

  16. Peggy ALEXANDER - October 9, 2021 4:16 pm

    I was 5 when I lost my daddy in a car accident. He was 33. I have very few memories

  17. Kathy Wolfe - October 9, 2021 4:39 pm

    I don’t want to make you uncomfortable but you are a winner in my book. You touch my heart every time I read what you’ve written.

  18. Robin Williams - October 9, 2021 5:40 pm

    Mama used to say, “honeh, don’t grieve for me when I’m gone. I’m just in the next room.” Just a thin veil

  19. Robin Williams - October 9, 2021 5:51 pm

    Mama used to say, “Huneh, don’t grieve me when I’m gone. I’m just in the next room.
    And when I’m trying to make her pie crust , she’s actually In the room. Watching me and she makes me nervous.

  20. Suellen - October 9, 2021 6:34 pm

    I talk to my ghost every night when I’m doing devotions only my ghost has grayer hair and was weakened from congestive heart failure. I use his prayer book as part of my devotions and the page I turn to first is one that has his nicotined (I’m guessing) fingerprint on it. Then I turn to the page with the 23rd Psalm bookmark that is Prayers for the Dying. My Mom told me when she gave me this book that he was holding it the morning they found him.

  21. lynda - October 9, 2021 7:54 pm

    You are a winner Sean. You have us who love you and you have Jamie.

  22. Susie - October 9, 2021 9:36 pm

    Sean, your dad will always be with you. I pretend mine is with me at certain times and I’m showing him the newly completed projects here and what’s new in our lives and he’s always so thrilled! 👍❤️🤗

  23. MAM - October 9, 2021 9:58 pm

    I dreamed about my dad, who has been gone for more than 50 years, the other night. He doesn’t show up often, but he sure did that night. I still miss him although I only had him for 28 years. But I still have some memories, and he was a strong man and had a huge impact on my life. It’s lovely when they join us again! And you, Sean, ARE a winner in the writing game! Your words always show us the good in life!

  24. Karen Snyder - October 9, 2021 10:36 pm

    How fortunate you are that your ghost still visits to share the occasional game. ❤️

  25. Steve Winfield (Lifer) - October 10, 2021 1:30 am

    I’ve seen one Major League ball game in my life. Red Sox vs Brewers. Just happened to be in Boston in 1980 for the Tall Ships Celebration aboard the USS JFK. Old Navy guy.
    Seen many Minor games in B’ham. Go Barons!
    I played a year of Little League around 10 yrs old. Minor Cardinals. Got a little plastic trophy. My brother played for the Barons & he broke the plastic bat off of his trophy. He caught “you know what” about it. He must have cried 35 times. (They didn’t make Crazy Glue back then)
    We loved baseball. Had a big yellow Pitch Back in the front yard. Our bases were pine trees. Our out fielders were dogs. Sometimes they kept the ball.
    Oh well.

  26. Stacey Wallace - October 10, 2021 2:12 am

    Sean, you are a winner. Never doubt it for a minute. Your writing makes so many people happy, which makes you a great success.

  27. Chasity Davis Ritter - October 10, 2021 2:13 am

    I’m glad you had some time with your ghost today. It was our last game of the Fall ball Dream League season. My girl didn’t go play she was under the weather but I went for her and cheered on her teammates. I also collected her end of the season medal and a neat little goody bag from the helpers that had a new ball cap with her name stitched on the side (speaking of baseball and ball caps). She was happy when I came home with it. As for ourselves we watched the OU/Texas football game. Always a big rivalry. My pastor Greg left this earth 2 months and 2 days ago. He was a major OU fan. I think we all had our own ghost watching the game and cheering today too. OU was behind 3 touchdowns in the first quarter really sucking it up but they worked hard after the half and came back in the last quarter and won at the last minute. Our ghost happy today. It’s funny the things that can bring them back. I’m still so glad you spent time with yours today too.

  28. elizabethroosje - October 10, 2021 2:20 am

    If encouraging tons of people like myself by your writing is winning then my friend you’ve struck a lot of home runs. God keep & comfort you. 🙏💗

  29. Lynda Phillippi - October 10, 2021 4:47 am


  30. terric - October 10, 2021 9:35 pm

    Sean, you ARE a winner. A winner in life. Look at your beautiful wife, your dogs, all the people that you touch with your written words. You lift up folks every day. Love you much!

  31. Christina - October 10, 2021 11:41 pm

    I have a feeling the ghost is so proud of you for the person that you’ve become. And that’s always a win!


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