“To connect faith and the national pastime is not to argue that baseball is something more than a game; it is to affirm that baseball is a game.” Christopher H. Evans and William R. Herzog II, The Faith of 50 Million
Baseball is reassuring. It makes me feel as if the world is not going to blow up. ~Sharon Olds, This Sporting Life, 1987
We are in the middle of Holy Week and coincidently it is also Opening Day in Baseball. I know that Opening Day this year actually took place last week between the A’s and Mariners in Tokyo but it really didn’t feel like Opening Day because of how inconvenient it was to try to watch it and because after the teams played their two game series they came back to the States and resumed Spring Training games.
However tonight it was Opening Day in the Continental United States or as we refer to it in the military as CONUS. It was relaxing to watch Baseball Tonight followed by the St. Louis Cardinals game against the Miami Marlins. The Cardinals won that game by a score of 4-1 and starting pitcher Kyle Loshe took a no-hitter into the 7th inning to spoil the opening of the new Miami ball park.
There is something natural about baseball season beginning during Holy Week, it doesn’t always happen but it does often enough to not be an aberration of nature. Baseball though a game is a part of American life and faith is somehow connected to it and connecting the two is natural to the baseball fan and the person of faith. How can anyone forget the final scene in The Babe Ruth Story where the boy who the Babe had hit two home runs for when he was expected to die came to the Babe and gives Ruth a Miraculous Medal as he was being wheeled into surgery to operate on the Cancer that would kill him?
Somehow baseball and faith seem to go together more than almost any culture and religion combination. There is something liturgical and sacramental to the ebb and flow of the baseball season that has a feel much like the liturgical seasons of the Christian faith.
For me baseball is something that helps draw me back to faith. When I say that I am a member of the Church of Baseball I certainly don’t diminish my Christian faith or Jesus because when I was struggling and in the midst of a crisis of faith following my tour in Iraq baseball was a place of refuge that helped me regain a sense of peace and stability that I’m sure helped me to make it through life until faith returned.
This year I will not make a home opener for the first time since 2003 unless I rearrange my schedule to see the Norfolk Tides home opener Monday. I probably need to do that.