Thank God For Baseball

The sun is lowering over the trees on the horizon, and the sky is lit orange here in Birmingham. The world is filled with daylight. The birds are chattering.

Opening Day of Major League baseball is here. Hallelujah. Tonight, the Atlanta Braves will face off against the Cincinnati Reds. But right now, I am catching a game between two Little League teams in the park near my house.

It’s an unofficial matchup. These kids are young, they’re just practicing, and they’re still unclear on the rules of the game. But they’re trying. God love them.

A child hits a ground ball.

“RUN!” the parents in the bleachers cheer.

The kid drops the bat. He sprints straight toward the pitcher, runs over the mound, leaps over second base, and keeps going until he collides with the centerfielder. And I love it.

When I was a boy, my father and I listened to ball games on his Philco radio, or watched them on an old Zenith television. Almost every night of the summer we kept a scorecard beside the wooden radio and a bag of parched peanuts nearby.

When we weren’t following baseball, we were playing catch. When we weren’t doing that, we were at Little League games, like this one. When we weren’t doing that, we were in church daydreaming about Glenn Hubbard.

Of course, my childhood baseball career was cut short. My father died in a terrible way. It was the kind of death that makes everyone in a small town gasp when they read it in the papers. It was though someone had erased the sun.

And something else bad happened on the same day of his passing. And I mean the ACTUAL DAY of his death.

It was an announcement on the national news. The commissioner of Major League Baseball stood at a podium and proclaimed that there would be no World Series that year.

It was the worst thing to happen in the history of the world since 1904. To boys like me, it was like someone had canceled the Fourth of July, or Thanksgiving, or pushed Santa Claus off a tall cliff, set his workshop on fire, and forced his elves to file for unemployment.

That was the worst year of my life. What would I do? What was going to happen to us without a breadwinner? Who would raise me?

Also, what would happen to my favorite Major Leaguers? Would they be found bagging groceries at Piggly Wiggly? Would you walk into the store and see Greg Maddux wearing a red apron, asking if you need help out to your car? Would Bobby Cox be washing windshields for pocket change?

I sort of gave up talking that year. Besides, there wasn’t anything to talk about. My mother quit talking, too. And our house became a silent one.

Okay, that’s enough depressing facts for one column.

Still, I’ll never forget the February after my father’s death when baseball returned. The newspapers announced that Major League spring training was scheduled to start. Reporters said the players and franchise owners had come to an agreement.

And baseball was back.

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more grateful than I did that day. It was a rush of emotions. I cried when I read it in the paper. Not for baseball, but because you never know how much you love some things, or some people, until they’re taken from you.

In April, I listened to the first pitch of the season on my father’s radio. And I stood for the national anthem, even though I was alone in an empty workshed.

I checked the newspaper box scores every morning, back when newspapers still cared enough to publish them. I watched games on television with bags of parched peanuts.

My uncle took me to games in Atlanta. I hollered, laughed, screamed, leapt to my feet for good plays, and booed the opposition. He let me eat as many hotdogs as I wanted. And for nine innings, I was me again.

In normal daily life, I was a kid who didn’t know where our lives were going, or whether my family would survive hard times. But during a ballgame, I was part of something bigger than myself. And when the guys on the field won, they did it with me behind them.

Sometimes I wish that I could talk to that little boy. He’s still out there somewhere in time and space, eating peanuts, worried about his own life.

I would tell him to look upward. Just over the treeline. There’s an orange light, stabbing through the limbs making the prettiest sunset you ever saw.

The sun only goes down for the night. Tomorrow morning, it will rise. Tears will evaporate. Winter will end. And the old gang will take the field again. And you will know that nothing bad lasts forever. No way, no how.

And that is why I love baseball.


  1. Debbie g - April 8, 2022 7:01 am

    The sun will come up tomorrow
    The encouraging words you give us
    Are amazing thanks so much
    Love you and Jamie. And love to us all

  2. Debbie - April 8, 2022 8:09 am

    I am old. Winter will soon end. It will be a new day, just like you said. And, I will see the most glorious sunrise.
    There will be no more tears. 🙏

  3. Debbie - April 8, 2022 8:11 am

    Thank you so much, Sean.❤️

  4. Jan - April 8, 2022 10:04 am

    Thanks, Sean. I needed that this morning!

  5. Don Hines - April 8, 2022 10:13 am

    Sadly the National League has caved and begins the DH. No longer does the manager have to decide to pull his pitcher or let him hit, knowing he will take heat whatever he decides. No longer the excitement when the pitcher actually gets a hit or lays down the perfect sac bunt. No more box scores in the disappearing daily papers but baseball is alive and Sean you must see Rickwood Field if you haven’t been there already and the best baseball going, the SEC baseball tournament at Hoover coming in May. Welcome to Birmingham fellow baseball man.

  6. Joy Jacobs - April 8, 2022 10:38 am

    That little boy is still in you and it comes out in your writing. Thanks for sharing your heart with us. ❤️

  7. Marilyn Vance - April 8, 2022 10:55 am

    There is a gospel song that says, “Hold on, My child, Joy comes in the morning…weeping only lasts for the night;
    Hold on my child, joy comes in the morning, the darkest hour means dawn is just in sight.” Thanks, Sean!

  8. Dina - April 8, 2022 11:34 am

    Ahh there is still hope!

  9. Jerry Lassiter - April 8, 2022 11:35 am

    I watched the Braves & Reds game last night, as I’m sure you did also…..Disappointed they lost the opening day/night game, but as we know it’s a long season….I did enjoy the open mike conversation with Vitto…Enjoy reading you blog each day which usually includes some sadness and humor……GO BRAVES…….

  10. Mike Dube - April 8, 2022 12:02 pm

    That was timely thank you Sean

  11. River Jordan - April 8, 2022 12:22 pm

    And for 9 innings I was me again. (Thanks so much for this)

  12. Shelton A. - April 8, 2022 12:51 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I’m glad baseball is back, too. Didn’t look like they’d make it, but they did. Go Braves! Go Yankees! My two teams…Lord help us if they meet in the World Series! God bless.

  13. Naomi Smith - April 8, 2022 12:55 pm

    What an awesome reminder that the sun always shines. Regardless of whatever is happening around us.
    Find a tee ball game. The younger the better. It will lift your spirits, like nothing else. The funniest sight I’ve ever seen was a little boy in his first game and he finally hit the ball. He took off in the vicinity of first base. He slammed into the fence. Turned and got his bearings and headed for a light pole. He slammed into that. Then he turned and got really confused. He looked around but didn’t know where to run. His dad has just about fallen out of the bleachers laughing. Dad finally hollered, “He’s looking for the trash can! That’s what we use for 3rd base!”
    I still laugh as I think about watching that game.
    It always reminds me to be careful what you teach a little child. They take it very literally sometimes.

  14. Tom - April 8, 2022 1:02 pm

    Parched peanuts!! I thought I was the only person that still said “parched peanuts “. I thought that folks had got so uppidy that everyone but me said: roasted or dry roasted or roasted with sea salt or whatever they could call them without saying parched. My dad and I ate enough parched peanuts to put Skippy out of business. How I miss those days but the sun did come up this morning and yes, baseball is back.

  15. Bonnie - April 8, 2022 1:51 pm

    Sean, Ps. 30 verse 5…”weeping may endure for a night, but JOY comes in the morning”. What you endured makes you more grateful perhaps for what others might think are the simple things of life. And I know beyond a doubt, those sorrows have made you a man who feels the sorrows and joys of other’s equally. So, those simple things are what really matter. You look for them every day and spread that joy to others. Thank you.

  16. 🇿🇦🇿🇦Norma Den - April 8, 2022 2:00 pm

    The sun will shine tomorrow, even if not in your location, but shine it will. Here in sunny South Africa, despite many problems, we get more than a fair share of sunshine. That promise keeps me going as my husband deteriorates with Alzheimer’s. That said it seems we might be in for a wet & cold weekend, but the sun will shine again.

  17. Suellen - April 8, 2022 2:07 pm

    I knew it had to be opening day when hubby came out dressed in his Mets jersey, Mets jacket, Mets cap. He considers it a high holy day.

  18. Phil (the Brown Marlin) - April 8, 2022 2:23 pm

    Thanks, Sean. Reminds me of two of my favorite baseball movies, Field of Dreams and The Sandlot.

  19. Patricia Gibson - April 8, 2022 2:34 pm

    Good one❤️❤️❤️

  20. Melanie Johnston Levy - April 8, 2022 2:46 pm

    Lovely…just lovely. Thanks, Sean. When are you coming to Ruston?

  21. AlaRedClayGirl - April 8, 2022 3:08 pm

    You have a beautiful heart, Sean. It’s interesting that you speak of your younger self in the third person because I tend to do that too when I recall some painful memories. And like you, I wish I could tell my younger self that life will get better.

  22. Denise K. - April 8, 2022 3:36 pm

    Have you considered coaching the TBall or coach pitch? It would be fun for all!

  23. Robyn - April 8, 2022 3:41 pm

    Amen Sean and why we love you!

  24. Christina - April 8, 2022 3:51 pm

    You hit home run again Sean!

  25. Linda Moon - April 8, 2022 5:26 pm

    I love Birmingham’s horizon, and I love memories of a Little League coach and a son. The horizon has turned somewhat gray now, but the sun’s still there. We just can’t see it. All will be good on another day whether the weather is sunny or cloudy. And this is why I love stories from Sean of The South: I find good in them, and I’m glad you’re you.

  26. Linda Moon - April 8, 2022 5:39 pm

    just trying comment……

  27. Linda Moon - April 8, 2022 5:50 pm


  28. Susie, as well - April 8, 2022 6:20 pm


  29. shirley c hill - April 8, 2022 9:46 pm

    Thank you – you are so right – there is just something about baseball even for us girls. I’ve loved it since my Daddy would take me with him to see the old Atlanta Crackers play and when that league disappeared I was broken and then I found out that Chuck Tanner and Eddie Matthews were playing for the Braves and I became a fan of theirs then. Needless to say when the Braves came to Atlanta this was one very happy girl. Still loving my Braves through thick and thin good and bad doesn’t matter – it’s Baseball.

  30. Steve Winfield (Lifer) - April 8, 2022 10:56 pm

    I pray to God that no other little boy will ever have to go through what you have. I know some will but I pray they won’t.
    That being said, I’m proud & happy that your life turned out great. More than regular happy, I mean like being on the tallest roller coaster with the biggest loop ever. One that makes everyone laugh for the rest of the day.
    I am one of your biggest fans & don’t ever forget it.
    One of these nights at a Barons game at Regions Field a little short guy will run up from behind & give you a big hug.
    That will be me.

  31. Richard Girdler - April 9, 2022 12:52 am

    I love baseball too, GO Bravos!

  32. Jim Kelly - April 9, 2022 2:32 am

    Very touching and GREAT !

  33. Ellouise Pennington - April 9, 2022 2:33 am

    And all this is why we love you!

  34. Kate - April 9, 2022 12:43 pm

    Sean, thank you for this. I sent it to our foster son who is 43 and is going through some tough times. He lost his biological father to cancer in December and the grief is hard for him. It took years for him to get over the anger and hurt concerning his father, but with the help of a young preacher friend he was able to do that about 8 years ago and they restore their relationship. He sent me back a note, “thanks, I really needed that”, He too is a baseball fan and baseball is what got him through most of his youth and young adult years. Thank you Sean, you help others more than you probably realize.

  35. Kate - April 9, 2022 12:47 pm

    Sean, I have been reading your articles for maybe two years after a friend share one with me. I am not sure if you have ever realized this or not, but you are probably a genius. Writing an article EVERY day is a fairly amazing accomplishment but also ILLUSTRATING one is probably unheard of. You really are a good artist and I often look forward to your illustration as much as the article. Thanks for helping us along each day.

  36. Suzanne - April 9, 2022 4:24 pm

    This story flows so beautifully. A cherished memory indeed.

  37. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - April 10, 2022 4:28 pm

  38. Ed Czachor - April 12, 2022 3:14 am

    My childhood had many issues with my dad away from home a lot. When we were together, we did some great things. My dad played handball at the YMCA during baseballs off season with a friend who happened to be a Hall of Fame NY shortstop and longtime anouncer after his playing days. His son, Jr, was a couple of years older than me and we would do what kids do on the floor outside the courts while our dads battled, yes they were competitive and more than once towels with ice would be used to limit swelling. I was also lucky enough to see Mantle and Maris play while sitting in great seats. And on more than one occasion before we moved to Florida I would hear my dad’s name mentioned during a game delay of an upcoming visit to the Y.

  39. Berryman Mary M - April 12, 2022 10:41 pm

    Weeping endures the night, but joy comes in the morning! Thanks, Sean! Psalm 30:5


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