I wish you could’ve been there. You are reading this letter in the far-off future, long after I am dead and scattered. But tonight, as I write these feeble words, I hope they will help you understand how we felt when it happened. Because the sports history books simply won’t do the occasion justice.
Tonight, the night it took place, I was sitting in my den, anxiously squeezing a throw pillow, watching the television. My wife was beside me, howling at the TV screen. “Hit it outta the park!” Then she crushed a few beer cans using only one hand.
That’s the kind of agony we underwent on the night the Atlanta Braves, America’s oldest continuously operating baseball team, established in 1871, won the World Series.
My God. I have waited twenty-two years to write that last line.
You’re a child. Thus, you cannot know what this monumental moment means to us middle-aged fools. I don’t know if baseball is important to the people in your future era, but we, your ancestors, love this game something fierce.
I wish you knew how many thousands of innings we’ve faithfully watched over our lifespans. I wish you could fathom how many on-the-road games we convinced our wives to attend, traveling upwards of twenty-nine hours across the continental U.S. only to watch our team lose to the Diamondbacks.
You don’t know how much money we’ve invested in HD television equipment, live streaming packages, expensive ball caps, nosebleed tickets, tepid ballpark beers, overpriced hotdogs that tasted like fried squirrel.
You don’t know how many weddings, funerals, baby dedications, banquets, and bar mitzvahs we have excused ourselves from, faking full bladders, then rushed to the men’s room to check the score.
Yes, I freely conceded that it’s ridiculous and irresponsible to be a baseball fan. Because when you think about it, professional sports is a frivolous endeavor with all the chaos in this world.
But, oh, there is joy in frivolity.
Because life is hard, kid. Not just a little bit hard. Life is bone hard. In this past month alone, three of my friends have been diagnosed with cancer. I have another friend with four kids who just lost his job and now delivers takeout food for a living.
Everyone I know has lost loved ones unexpectedly this year. Family members and friends are constantly being faced with some sort of unexpected tragedy or grievance or major surgery or divorce or disappointment. Each day is an obstacle course. And that’s life, kid.
Ask any adult and they’ll tell you: Life is no day at the beach. In fact, the only thing certain about this life is that you won’t survive it.
Sounds depressing, huh?
Yeah, well, that’s not the whole story, kiddo.
Life also holds wondrous surprises. Colossal surprises. Titanic surprises that will blow your hair back and enrich your soul. Nothing—and I mean nothing—in this lifetime ever goes the way you think it will. And that’s a wondrous thing about being human.
There will be days when you’ll wake up and truly think you’re going to have the worst day ever. Then, suddenly, boom, something incredible will change the trajectory of your entire existence.
Then again, some mornings you will expect to have a marvelous day, but you will end up finding yourself face down in the dirt, bruised and bloody, with a mouthful of infield grass.
And it is during those difficult moments when you will discover the beauty of distractions. Which is what baseball is.
These small diversions can save you from yourself. They can excite you, they can make life seem so much more vivid and rich than it was before.
A bucket of popcorn can suddenly become the most lovely thing you ever tasted. A simple baggy of parched peanuts can bring you to the brink of tears. A Coca-Cola could kill you.
For a few precious minutes, a bat and ball can cause you to temporarily forget the indifference and cruelty of Earth, and bring you a measure of peace.
You will find yourself holding the hand of your wife, the woman who has walked with you through some very hard times, and you will cheer loudly at a television. For once, you won’t be thinking about things that trouble you. For once, you won’t be worried. For once you will root for something that is bigger than yourself.
You will find solace in a silly game. And it will be this banal game your father once taught you to play that will ease your pain and make you smile.
When this happens, you will start to see baseball differently. No longer will it seem like a child’s game to you, but you will recognize it as the American artform our ancestors have been practicing since the 1750s. And in that moment you will somehow feel a little more connected to your fellow human.
During those hours of happiness, perhaps you will finally understand how the author of this letter once watched the Atlanta Braves win the Fall Classic, and truly regarded this evening as one of the greatest nights of his entire life.
I only wish you could have been there.
Donalsonville, GA - November 3, 2021 6:37 am
It WAS fantastic, wasn’t it? I’m euphoric!
Christina - November 3, 2021 6:38 am
I’m not a baseball fan, but I am so genuinely happy for you and Jamie. I can picture your daddy being so proud too! (While eating peanuts 😉)
orgillian - November 3, 2021 6:51 am
And between honoring the late Hank Aaron and the barely cognizant Bobby Cox while they beat the unrepentant cheaters from Houston (who thought they could bribe the baseball gods by hiring Dusty Baker), for once the right team won the big one. Nothing can make up for all of the years Maddox and Glavine and company somehow lost their mojo in October, winning only one World Championship (hint, curve balls don’t break when it’s chilly and there’s no humidity), but this is a good start.
Susan H Poole - November 3, 2021 7:13 am
“BRAVES WIN, BRAVES WIN!!!”
What a beautiful sound⚾️🇺🇸❤
Lisa K Riley - November 3, 2021 7:44 am
And they won. And maybe, just maybe, this can help make up for those years when a young boy had to walk a long way every evening and listened to his Braves on the radio. Go Braves!
Sandi. - November 3, 2021 7:44 am
Sean, when last night’s ball game was over and the Braves won the World Series, I thought of you and Jamie, knowing y’all were ecstatic, like many of us fans are! Last time they won the W/S pennant, in 1995, seems like more than 26 years ago. It was a long wait, but well worth it. GO BRAVES!
Lucretia Jones - November 3, 2021 8:27 am
Joan Moore - November 3, 2021 11:46 am
Wish Skip and Don could have called it! Chop On!
Lucretia Jones - November 3, 2021 8:31 am
Cheryl Andrews - November 3, 2021 9:46 am
Joseph Flanagan - November 3, 2021 10:28 am
Thanks Sean, for articulating that this is more than just a game!
Rosemary - November 3, 2021 11:02 am
From one Braves fan to another, congratulations!! What an amazing journey for the Braves and their fans!!
Amy Wells - November 3, 2021 11:37 am
I thought first of my dad, whom we lost 4 years ago, and then of you and Jamie. Braves Win!
Suellen - November 3, 2021 11:38 am
First thing I did was think of you. Congratulations!
David M White - November 3, 2021 11:50 am
As an Auburn fan, I’m well inured to seeing defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. After the series moved back to Texas, I couldn’t stand getting my hopes dashed again. I was content to let my wife watch whatever she wanted as the time for Game 6 approached. I managed to make it to about the 3rd inning without sneaking a look at my phone. What gets me every time: watching full grown men leaping out of the dugout, running to each other in 4 man group hugs and jumping up and down like boys. Absolute, unmitigated, triple-distilled joy. Not just for themselves, but for each other. That, boys and girls, is why the game is played.
Russell Moulton - November 3, 2021 2:29 pm
WDE 🦅 and yes similarities being a fan of both! Tigers need a win Saturday!
Andrew Payne - November 7, 2021 6:29 am
If I am in the hospital with terminal cancer, on my last day of life, I still want to hear the famous words, “There goes Davis….!!!”
Heidi - November 3, 2021 11:57 am
Not a baseball fan here but so happy for you & Jamie. I kept checking the score last night hoping you’d finally get that big win. For a short while, everything is right in America.❤️
Debbie g - November 3, 2021 12:10 pm
Amen David. And Sean last night all your friends were celebrating your victory too. Way to go braves and cheers for Sean and Jamie so happy for all !!!! Love y’all and all of us
MermaidGrammy - November 3, 2021 12:11 pm
I’m not the future. I’m almost the past. But I sure enjoyed “being at the game with you”. Keep it up, Sport!
Jan - November 3, 2021 12:20 pm
My family members are all huge Braves fans so I thought of them as I watched the game last night but I also thought of you and Jamie and how happy you all would be as the game ticked down to a huge win. Although I am more of an Auburn football fan than a baseball fan, I sure enjoyed this series. Congrats to all the Braves fans! Thanks for your ability to translate and record the true meaning of this win!
Penn Wells - November 3, 2021 12:33 pm
The game actually turned in the first when Fried got out of that mess without a run scoring snd found his groove. You could literally feel it – and see it on his “gimme the ball so I can make the next pitch” face.
Not that those bombs weren’t big, too….
BELOW .500 @ THE BREAK
WORLD SERIES CHAMPS
NEVER GIVE UP
Paul McCutchen - November 3, 2021 12:34 pm
I admit I was nervous. After their last World serious outing they didn’t make it and then the other night they had the lead at the start and lost it. I had all my Braves lucky charms sitting on my desk. I was cheering them on (I also get a little crazy for the Razorbacks). I was up by myself with my dog staring at me from her bed and my cat looking at me from around the corner. Thank You Braves. Thank You for letting me see ya’ll in a world series and for allowing me the honor (even if it was on the tv) to watch you win. Way to go BRAVES!!!!
Melanie - November 3, 2021 12:34 pm
Congratulations to all fans, fanatics and to you, Sean. Pretty cool how people thought of you when they won. I was one of them. And congratulations to all the people who have just had their Christmas shopping list magically appear 😉
Nancy Crews - November 3, 2021 1:02 pm
Shelton A. - November 3, 2021 1:03 pm
Sean, I remember well the Braves of 1995. Pitchers who could dominate a game (how many Hall of Famers-three, I think) and all-around good guy and great player, Dale Murphy (also in the Hall). But this one was special. Acuna, Jr. was lost so early. Pitchers lost (including one at the start of the WS) and players lost due to dumb reasons (Ozuna). But the Braves won it all. Albies and Freeman had a remade outfield thanks to shrewd moves by the GM. Rosario played great and Soler won the Series MVP. And the cheating core of the Astros lost. Congrats to the Braves from a primarily a Yankees fan. Go Braves! Freeman will remain a Brave, I do believe.
Helen - November 3, 2021 1:23 pm
sean - November 3, 2021 1:28 pm
Im a die-hard, over the top fanatic for the Boston Red Sox. So tell me about your twenty-two years …. i waited 40+ – my entire life – for 2004. And of course got 2007, 2013, and 2018 as bonus rounds. Even this year – when nobody thought they could make the playoffs and then went 6 games into the ALCS – was a major victory.
Enjoy it man. Braves are a franchise with major playoff issues – it’s nice to see them overcome. And i could never favor the cheaters from Houston …
Patricia Gibson - November 3, 2021 2:06 pm
Congratulations Braves!! Wahoo!!
Linda - November 3, 2021 2:11 pm
Sean, I’ve been waiting for THIS column from you for awhile now …..Congratulations!
Even tho we are native New Yorkers and root for you know who….. I am so very happy for you and Jamie !
Kathy Smith - November 3, 2021 2:54 pm
Congratulations to all the Atlanta Braves fans!! I am so glad you were alive to witness this momentous occasion!!
AlaRedClayGirl - November 3, 2021 3:01 pm
Way to go, Braves!
Stacey Wallace - November 3, 2021 3:02 pm
BRAVES WIN! Congratulations, Sean!
Kathy Grignot - November 3, 2021 3:36 pm
YES. YES. YES.
Connie - November 3, 2021 3:48 pm
I watched right along with you. It was amazing to watch, and for just a little while I forgot what a crappy day it had been. It was a great Series and a spectacular ending.
sblasband - November 3, 2021 3:54 pm
Dear Dad and PaPa, tonight I missed you both. Would have loved to get phone calls as the game progressed. Would have loved to have shared this excitement with you both. I can only imagine PaPa’s play by play review of the game.
Susie Flick - November 3, 2021 4:10 pm
BRAVES WIN! Whoo hoo! Happy for all the diehard Braves fans, I was cheering for the Braves as a diehard Cubs fan. Nothing is more exhilarating than watching that game when they make it! Love watching the game and I can definitely feel your happiness upon this BIG WIN! My daughter, now almost 50 & her good friend were Braves fans back in the 70’s and enamored with Dale Murphy. Took them to a Cubs – Braves game at Wrigley Field and they sat there amongst Cub fans with their Braves hats on! When the Cubs won in 2016 I had been gathering at a neighborhood bar, The Tartan Inn, watching the seires with a fun group – all diehard Cubs fans. The young owner of the bar was a Cubs fan and it was so hard that last night when the game had a rain delay so close to the end. We all cheered and cheered and celebrated their victory.
Celebrate this victory and enjoy the euphoria with memories of this great team!
Congratulations to the Braves and to all the “diehard” Braves fans too!
Deb - November 3, 2021 4:24 pm
I’m old enough to remember going to the old FC stadium and our little league team being allowed to sit in the dugout before and after the game! Met Mr. Aaron at the age of 9! 1995 was special but this one was even more so! Atlanta defied the odds because they stuck together and believed in themselves, media coverage and politics be DAMNED! Go Braves!! ChopOn!!
DiAnn A Grimes - November 3, 2021 4:37 pm
WAY TO GO BRAVES!!! I live in Texas, however, I am from Mississippi, so I was for the Braves, and by golly they did it!!!!
Becky+Souders - November 3, 2021 4:43 pm
My husband was a big baseball fan. He would have loved this column, Sean. Thanks.
Carol Rahn - November 3, 2021 4:48 pm
I grew up in NY, not far from NY City. My father was a Dodgers fan, so I grew up with baseball, first on the radio then TV. Being a girl made no difference. My family moved to Atlanta in 1976 and we lived there for 25 years. All 3 kids went to school there, one went on to Ga. Tech, then a masters degree at Ga. State. My daughter now lives in Macon. San Antonio is our second home since we left Atlanta in 2001. And we were there in 1995. Last night my younger son and I sat by the TV screaming for strikes and double plays for the orange and blue and balls, and long out field ground balls, and homers for the red. I’m 77 now and I stayed up past my bedtime. But we did it! And it was beautiful.
peaceloveartgoods - November 3, 2021 5:07 pm
Our 12 year old grandson was in tears… happy tears, mind you! “
Juanita Cordle - November 3, 2021 5:28 pm
Hip! Hip! Hooray! Congratulations, Bravos!
Annak - November 3, 2021 5:40 pm
Even the day after, I’m all but having to pinch myself. It really seemed that in this last half year and the playoffs, then the World Series, there was something more than just the usual games happening. Whatever that indefinable something may be, it will have been a season that will go down in history – in the best possible way. For all who may think of giving up when life looks dismal, remember the 2021 Atlanta Braves and keep on keeping on!
Edna H. Isdell - November 3, 2021 6:19 pm
I have an Atlanta Braves quilted throw ready to mail to you, but need your address. Free. I also love the Braves. Let me know where to mail it to.
Edna H. Isdell
Peter Heyer - November 3, 2021 7:06 pm
Well, DONE Sean! Congratulations to you and the BRAVES! Maybe one day my ROCKIES can feel that.
Linda Moon - November 3, 2021 8:15 pm
Distractions. They’re some of LIFE’s most noble and beautiful things. It was a great night for My Guy and me and lots of others! I’m glad you got to write about it…22 years in the making!!!
Craig Johnson - November 3, 2021 8:43 pm
So true. I’ve been a baseball fan all my life. It hurt like salt on a cut when the Mets finished ahead of the Cubs in 69. I cried. Baseball life sucked the life out of me until 5 years ago, yesterday. The Cubs won the World Series, I cried.
Congrats on the win!
MAM - November 3, 2021 9:20 pm
Having formerly been a resident of Houston, I was sort of rooting for the Astros to pull it out with no TV to watch it on, but I knew you would absolutely outdo yourself, Sean, when you wrote about this victory. And you outdid yourself! I’m happy for you and your euphoria over the win! Congrats!
Catherine - November 3, 2021 9:56 pm
Love to you.
Cynthia Russell - November 4, 2021 12:00 am
Diane - November 4, 2021 12:50 am
Well, this Phillies fan recalls how it felt & it is all you described. Enjoy the euphoria…🥰
Karen Snyder - November 4, 2021 3:24 am
And this time there WAS joy in Mudville! 😉 Happy for the Braves, and for you and Jamie. 🎉
Carolyn from Georgia - November 4, 2021 3:55 am
BRAVES!!! CHOP ON!!!! 🔨⚾❤️
Barbara J Schweck - November 4, 2021 7:36 pm
I felt like I was right back in 1995!! We very fortunate to be able to attend 3 World Series games back then! Great team that worked so well together and each brought so much to the ballpark just like in 1995. I could envision Bobby Cox and Rocking Leo at the park. I am sure they were watching with the rest of us!!! Congratulations to the whole team and to ALL the Braves FANS!!
Holly Mc - November 4, 2021 10:54 pm
Yeah!! I was thinking of you! Congratulations 🍾 p.s. I’m a long suffering Red Sox fan since ‘67!
Tommy - November 10, 2021 3:21 am
You shoulda been in Omaha in late June. . . .