Los Bravos

I’m watching the Braves game on TV, eating a hamburger, trying not to get my keyboard greasy.

The Atlanta Braves are locked in a treacherous battle against the Philadelphia Phillies. Both teams are fighting for a shot at the pennant, and neither team is going down without taking fistfuls of flesh and hair with them.

This column is part of my longstanding tradition wherein every year I write a handful of boring baseball columns. I do this faithfully although I’m no expert on baseball, nor am I an athlete. Also, I’m hard pressed to believe that the same ball players I care so deeply about would ever visit my place of work to cheer for me.

Even so. There’s just something about baseball.

To me, stickball is more than just an American sport. It’s not merely vivid green grass, halide lights, peanut vendors, or howling fans who have been overserved. Baseball is my past. Baseball is boyhood on a stick.

Of course the game has undergone many changes since my day. Even the entertainment delivery methods have changed.

The TV I’m watching, for example, is about 68 inches wide, plasma, high-definition, and connected to my mobile phone. This television has the capability of answering emails, browsing the Internet, obeying spoken voice commands, and communicating with military aircraft.

When I was a kid, however, the technology of baseball was different. Our beat up television ran on unleaded and picked up one-point-two sports channels. There was WGN, out of Chicago, and TBS out of Atlanta.

The Chicago station broadcasted games wherein the Cubs lost each night by double digits, whereupon Harry Caray would sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” to a stadium of clinically depressed Chicago fans at Wrigley.

But the Atlanta channel had Dale Murphy, John Smoltz, and the fighting Atlanta Braves. To us, they were America’s Team. Los Bravos. The Tomahawks. The Peach Clobbers. They were ours. And there weren’t many American kids who didn’t love them.

My childhood was a good era for baseball. It wasn’t as good as the Mickey Mantle era, or the era of Ted Williams, Yogi Berra, or Joe Dimaggio. But mine was a period when everyone’s old man still wore work uniforms and talked about the famous catches made by the “Say Hey Kid,” or Roger Maris’ 61 homers. And of course, they never missed a chance to discuss Mazeroski’s walk-off.

Even at my youngish age I can still remember a golden age before instant replay, when umpires were still infallible, when ballpark hotdog buns weren’t non-GMO, and a hot dog contained a blend of 39 varieties of “meat product.”

It was a time when all kids kept score on official scorecards with eraserless pencils. A time when—hard as this is to believe—our phones didn’t even shoot good video.

Almost every summer evening my old man would sit on our camel-colored sofa in our basement, poised between a collage of cushion stains, watching or listening to ballgames. We’d either tune in with a transistor radio or a Zenith television that was the size of a Cheez-It box.

Sometimes the televised image would go staticky, at which point my father would untwist a wire clothes hanger, sculpt it into a strange shape, then attach it to the TV’s backside to improve reception. If this didn’t work, he’d add aluminum foil to his makeshift antenna. If this didn’t work, he’d get another beer.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe he’s been gone for so long. Often I have to remind myself that my father has been deceased now for more years of my life than he hasn’t.

Even so, baseball brings him back to me. And therein lies the charm of this unique game. It’s a game that retells your history in full Technicolor. You remember everything when you watch 18 men play with a five-ounce ball.

Every time I tune in to see an overpaid, prepubescent millionaire swing a bat before a nationwide audience, I remember the way my father once guided me through my batter’s stance in our backyard.

I remember his ever vigorous six-word sermon, the mantra of boyhood: “Keep your eye on the ball.”

I remember late evenings in the tall weeds, beneath the glow of dim porch lights, serenaded by cicadas, playing marathon games of catch with neighborhood boys, throwing the ball until one of us sustained a dental injury.

I remember televised games on Atlanta’s superstation, when I would sometimes crawl onto my old man’s lap as he slept. I would curl beside him until one of his arms draped around my shoulder and held me. And I can still remember how safe I felt in those arms. I remember feeling like I belonged to someone. I remember feeling like I mattered.

In some small way I still feel like that when I watch games. Because, as I say, there’s just something about baseball.


  1. MermaidGrammy - September 30, 2021 7:59 am

    Oh! Sweet Sean! You matter so much. To so many. I’m of the age that has a hard time finding good sleep. But when I wake after3:00 am, instead of hurrying back to sleep, I look for today’s column. I’m so disappointed when it hasn’t posted yet. Today is a good day: Here you are! My baby sister and I used to drive from Montgomery (me) and Birmingham (her) to Atlanta to watch the Braves lose in person. The stadium was never full. No problem finding parking. But as you say, there’s just something about baseball. Whatever brings daddy back to you is worthy. To me and many others, you are a national pastime

  2. Norma Den 🇿🇦🌈 - September 30, 2021 8:27 am

    Baseball not a hugely played game in RSA. However anything that bonds people is great. Our 1995 Rugby World Cup debut saw is beating all time best team in the last minutes. Winning the World Cup on debut with our much loved president Nelson Mandela (MHDSRIP) watching & wearing a captains rugby jersey was a triumph over years of oppression, separated races & people. We were at that stage his dream of a united Rainbow 🌈 nation. Sadly things have gone sour again due to political corruption, fraud, nepotism & plain greed. Still those true South Africans stay, pray, hope & trust the Lord will heal our land & people. 🇿🇦🌈

  3. Kristi D - September 30, 2021 9:58 am

    We too are Braves fans- which seemed at times like being in group therapy instead of a fan following. Fingers crossed this year .
    We love baseball- my hubs pitched in college some.
    Also in my recipes I have one for “Dale Murphy Bread” that Natalie Dupree had when she was on TV.

  4. Steve McCaleb - September 30, 2021 10:18 am

    Next time one of these new age young yahoos tells you about how “boring and slow” baseball is…give the knucklehead a stopwatch and have him time your average NFL game. Between walking to the huddle….walking back to the huddle, blowing kisses to the crowd, cussing the crowd, posing for 8 x 10 glossies to sell to the crowd, making paper airplanes with salary with re-negotiation $$$ demands to sail at the billionaire owner up in his luxury box, well, you get my drift. I’ve seen more action in the garbage cans behind the Royal Order of the Mongoose Club the morning after the annual Fish Fry and Mumblepeg Tournament. So there 😖

  5. Paul S Gawrych - September 30, 2021 10:58 am


  6. Greyn - September 30, 2021 11:21 am

    Good writin’ as always,Sean. To you , Norma Den, I know your country is troubled right now, but it is oh so beautiful and South Africans are by and large lovely people. All best to you.

  7. Jan - September 30, 2021 11:26 am

    Too beautiful for words to comment … even for this non-baseball fan!

  8. Ginny Judson - September 30, 2021 11:31 am

    Sean, for me it is a sound. The sound of the commentator and the crowd. I can remember lying in bed at my grandparents house listening to baseball games on the radio or TV. Grampa would stay up late to watch and listen to these games even though he had a hard day’s work ahead as a diesel mechanic and road grader driver. I would lie there listening and be lulled to sleep by that voice, the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd…

    Every now and then I hear that sound again and I can suddenly smell Grandma’s house, see Grampa in his chair intent on the game, and feel the love and safety that wrapped around me in their home.

    Thank you for reminding me!

  9. jill - September 30, 2021 12:06 pm

    Oh I do remember. We also had on Zenith TV. I really do like the just the umps calls without the instant replay and watch on slow mo to be sure they made the right call. And the players hardly made enough to buy shoe laces. They played for the very simple pleasure of doing what they loved to do. Riding trains or buses thru the night to the next game, dressing in suits and ties, and kids were buying and saving when they could bubble gum with baseball cards in the package for pennies or nickels. Now a pack costs well above 4 dollars. Oh the joy of a hot summer evening, with the crickets chirping in the background, twilight baring down on us, and the totally mind boggling sound of that bat when it hit that ball.

  10. JS - September 30, 2021 12:13 pm

    Thank you Sean

  11. carolanne78 - September 30, 2021 12:36 pm

    Go Phillies! (probably they will go home after tonight’s game, but I have hope!) And to your other points: I remember the guys bringing transistor radios into class to listen to afternoon games, but hiding those radios when Sister walked in. LOL

  12. Penn Wells - September 30, 2021 12:39 pm

    If you will write it, the people will read, Roy… er, Sean. Go Los Bravos!

  13. Lisa - September 30, 2021 12:49 pm

    Lifelong Cubs fan here, Sean. Nothing you write about baseball is ever boring. Grew up in Illinois watching WGN, too. Good luck to your Braves!

  14. Paul McCutchen - September 30, 2021 1:13 pm

    Didn’t get the Braves in Arkansas growing up. Didn’t get much of anything. If the Cardinals played at night I could pick them up on the radio. Yea I was born in 52′.

  15. Shelton A. - September 30, 2021 1:26 pm

    Glad you have baseball and the good memories it brings you. Blessings….

  16. Christina - September 30, 2021 1:26 pm

    What sweet and treasured memories Sean!

  17. Suellen - September 30, 2021 1:31 pm

    Baseball connects generations. My Dad lived and died for the Chicago Cubs. He told the story that when he was sixteen he ran away from his Northern Wisconsin home to go try out for the Cubs. Of course he was quickly back home but lived for baseball season. It was bittersweet to watch the Cubs win the World Series in 2016. I know he was cheering somewhere in heaven. I used to buy my son the complete Topp’s boxed set of baseball cards every year and some individual packs sometimes. He came over the other day and he had put all the individual ones in a binder and said he still had all of them. Looking through that binder was like walking down memory lane. All our favorites Rick Sutcliffe, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Dennis Eckersley, Ron Cey….Alas, now we are a divided house. My husband is a Mets fan.

  18. Rich - September 30, 2021 1:31 pm

    I did not think anyone use the term “Technicolor” anymore. Are there any TVs left that show “Technicolor”. Just kidding. Love the column and glad you made reference to the Mantle, Dimaggio and Maris days of my childhool.

  19. Shelton A. - September 30, 2021 1:36 pm

    p.s. I remember the Braves of ’78-’80 when they were terrible when you watched to hear what funny stuff would come from Skip Carey, Ernie and the gang. The Braves were so bad, but they had the best announcers on TV.

  20. Tom - September 30, 2021 1:39 pm

    I grew up with Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi, Elston Howard, Don Drysdale, Sandy Kofax – those were the days of baseball. Only got 2 channels and only 1 baseball game a week on Saturday afternoon. The commentator was Dizzy Dean and he was great and as country as a turnip free.

  21. Lulu - September 30, 2021 2:27 pm

    Sean, I’m not a big fan of baseball but I follow it still. When my husband was in Viet Nam in 1966-1967 he was in charge of 1/3 of the port of Saigon. It was a 24/7 year. But just imagine the thrill of spending time along side Hank Aaron and Stan Musial? Those two took time out to come visit troops in Viet Nam. My husband was ecstatoc having his picture taken standing with those two greats. Just imagine the thrill. Aah, baseball. Love it. Thanks for your talents and the way you use them…we are blest.


  22. Stacey Wallace - September 30, 2021 2:47 pm

    Love you, Sean. Thanks!

  23. Vicki Dukes - September 30, 2021 3:28 pm

    My husband and I watch the Braves every day (except when they play on the West coast). It is something we look forward to. My husband and I my son text throughout the game. There’s just something about baseball.

  24. Mary Ann - September 30, 2021 4:00 pm

    Baseball, to me, is my grandfather, who took me to games when I was little. I lived in Cleveland and grew up with The Cleveland Indians. Now they have changed the name because it offends another group of minorities. I am sad to say I am white. I think I am a minority as a woman, but there are more women then men, so the men should be a minority. I think I may be African American because I have minority hair. I am a cisgender woman, which, I think, means I am the same sex as when I was born and I am not gay. I don’t like the word cisgender, it sort of sounds like cissygender, which is uncomplimentary( probably not a word). I don’t know the other words for the genders, which makes me a confused cisgender, a confused heterosexual cisgender non gay person. I don’t want to be a cis. So the Cleveland Guardians should be called The Cleveland Cisguardians.
    Thank you for your blogs.They are great. I enjoy them so much!
    Mary Ann

  25. Susie - September 30, 2021 4:08 pm

    Sean, what bittersweet memories for you!! I’m so glad this season brings it all back to you, and that at least some of it is sweet and comforting. Bless your heart. ❤️❤️

  26. Tom Wallin - September 30, 2021 4:13 pm

    Amen, Sean. And I am a Cubs fan. Please remember to thank me for giving you Greg Maddox. LOL.

  27. Floyd Williams - September 30, 2021 5:10 pm

    Baseball is my history reference also Sean.
    I grew up idolizing Al Kaline, a skinny 18 year old when he hit the majors with the Tigers. I didn’t even like the Tigers but Al was my man. I’m 79 years old now and I do reference The Thumper,
    Stan the Man, Say Hey Kid, Yogi, The Mick, etc.
    etc. I had my Damascus Road experience and fell for the Milwaukee Braves in the late 50’s. Now it’s
    Incurable. Go Bravos! However, Al will always remind me of the good old days. First ballot Hall of Fame inductee 88% of the votes. Beat that you modern day prima donnas. I said I was old. I’ll add old and opinionated. Keep your eye on the ball Sean.

  28. Deanna - September 30, 2021 5:23 pm

    Our dad was a tried and true Atlanta Braves fan. He saw them through many wins and losses. Whenever he would watch them and they were not playing well, he would say, “They ought to take their sorry behinds back to Ponce de Leon where they started.They didn’t make a lot of money, but those players knew how to play baseball. He passed away last year 3 weeks shy of his 96th birthday

  29. Jan - September 30, 2021 5:59 pm

    Well written. You make baseball come to life with every word. So sorry you lost your dad when you both were very young. Glad the game brings back pleasant memories.

  30. Sandra Wolfe - September 30, 2021 6:27 pm

    Nicely written Sean, nice written.

  31. Linda Moon - September 30, 2021 7:39 pm

    My keyboard got a little “greasy” yesterday because of heat and humidity on my fingertips. I have one TV somewhat similar to your mega-TV, but my favorite TV to watch is an old analog style that picks up cable but is unconnected to that other stuff you mentioned. Old Silent Films in black & white connect with my guy and me like baseball does to boys and their fathers. Boys and baseball and daddies and old movies are pure Americana, and I’m happy you and your daddy were part of it!

  32. gwenthinks - September 30, 2021 8:03 pm

    yes, yes, yes! A favorite memory was 1995 game six of the World Series. We were in the mountains at a church retreat, and the only tv in the cabin was a tiny black & white with rabbit ears. About 20 of us crowded around, standing, watching the Bravos bring it home!

  33. kip carter - September 30, 2021 8:34 pm

    Thank you !! I am so old that I saw many games at Ponce de Leon park. Still go for a week to Spring Training!

  34. Karen - September 30, 2021 8:41 pm

    Sean, you stirred up some wonderful memories. Thank you.

  35. Karen Snyder - October 1, 2021 3:26 am

    Daddy was a lifelong Cubs fan, always sure that a series win would be in the cards “this year.” Unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough to see the 2016 fruition of his dream, but you better believe a couple of his daughters were cheering on his behalf!

  36. Janet W Moffat - October 7, 2021 2:45 am

    You bring such lovely memories of my childhood. But, my mother was the baseball nut. She ironed while listening to the game. A minister in town loved baseball but his wife wouldn’t let him Listen. So he came to our home. Mother ironed, he sat in the rocker and mother made tea for him. At the end he got up, thanked her and left. Until the next game.

    • Susie - October 7, 2021 11:31 pm

      Janet Moffat, what a sweet memory that is!! I LOVE that story…..and what was with that minister’s wife, anyway!? I would guess he was secretly in love with your mama, or at least had a special place in his heart for her. How cute.


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