The Church of Baseball

The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and what could be again.” – James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams

“Baseball is reassuring.  It makes me feel as if the world is not going to blow up.” ~Sharon Olds, This Sporting Life, 1987

“Baseball is an allegorical play about America, a poetic, complex, and subtle play of courage, fear, good luck, mistakes, patience about fate, and sober self-esteem.”  ~Saul Steinberg

There are three things in my life which I really love:  God, my family, and baseball.  The only problem – once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit.  ~Al Gallagher, 1971

Baseball is a harbor, a seclusion from failure that really matters, a playful utopia in which virtuosity can be savored to the third decimal place of a batting average.  ~Mark Kramer

Baseball, it is said, is only a game.  True.  And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.  ~George F. Will, Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball, 1990

You may ask why so much of this website is devoted to baseball.  The answer is surprisingly easy to the faithful who like the author and photographer in chief for the site are members of the Church of Baseball. The true believers understand this and it is not some Gnostic special understanding but rather a willingness to stop, look and listen in this church, the Church of Baseball. As Susan Sarandon playing Annie Savoy said in Bull Durham “I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones…It’s a long season and you gotta trust. I’ve tried ’em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.”

I agree with Bill “Spaceman Lee” who said “I would change policy, bring back natural grass and nickel beer. Baseball is the belly-button of our society. Straighten out baseball, and you straighten out the rest of the world.” Baseball is the bell weather of America and a place that we can all go to if we want.

You see I am a member in good standing of the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish, Norfolk Virginia, the home of the Norfolk (former Tidewater) Tides, the AAA International League affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.  For me baseball is more than a game it is a fundamentally important part of my life as God himself or possibly the Deity Herself speaks to me through Baseball.  Thanks to my dad and my paternal grandmother I was weaned on the game from an early age and there is nothing like the sight and smell of the baseball field in all its pristine splendor that can bring peace to me soul.

Some of the more “religious” among my readers might have questions as to how a Priest can say such a thing and even wonder if I am a Christian. My adoring wife, the Abbess of the Abbey Normal while she concedes that while I am a Christian that she has doubts about my sanity, but then I have papers to prove that I am not quite right so what the heck?

Well I am a Christian and it is very simple, I believe in God, in fact I believe in the Christian understanding of God as stated in Scripture, the Creeds and the Councils.  At the same time I believe that God speaks to us in many different ways.  There have been times in my life, particularly returning from Iraq where it seemed that God had disappeared but for baseball and things connected with it.  Blame it on whatever but in the midst of turmoil and national discord I find peace in baseball as even churches have become polarized and as petty and vicious as the various political parties and ideologies at war in the United States.

Likewise I believe that God is content not to direct ever little part of our lives and just because I want to be a better curve ball hitter or have more life on my fastball that do not believe that God has to make it happen. I think that he is concerned with other things, even as important as being able to hit a curve ball and have a fastball that moves a bit is to life.  I like Jesus very much be he no help with curve ball.

Some talk about how other sports influence America and I admit that they do, especially football. But football and most other sports are not that way.  As John Leonard in the New York Times said back in 1975 “Baseball happens to be a game of cumulative tension but football, basketball and hockey are played with hand grenades and machine guns.Roger Kahn one of the nation’s most gifted sports writers said “Basketball, hockey and track meets are action heaped upon action, climax upon climax, until the onlooker’s responses become deadened.  Baseball is for the leisurely afternoons of summer and for the unchanging dreams.”

Now as to what people think of me or call me it really doesn’t matter unless you call me a Dodgers fan and then we will have problems, but I digress as baseball really matters it is the one place where Americans can come back to and envision a future that is restorative to the national and individual soul.  As Walt Whitman said “I see great things in baseball.  It’s our game – the American game.  It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism.  Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set.  Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.”

So anyway if you look at the topic list on the sidebar you will see links to Baseball, the Baltimore Orioles and the Norfolk Tides. There are stories of great players and the impact of players and the game on the country. There are also stories of places where I can only say that God has touched me through baseball.  finally there are my game reports and analysis from Major League Baseball as well as my daily reports on the Norfolk Tides.

Peace and blessings,

Padre Steve+

3 responses to “The Church of Baseball

  1. baseball91

    wow! This is like being in the visitors’ clubhouse.. Where they have a sign, “NO VISITORS ALLOWED!”

    • padresteve

      Baseball 91
      Don’t know exactly what you mean about “NO VISITORS ALLOWED” because I certainly encourage visitors, even Dodgers fans.
      Padre Steve+

  2. Pingback: The Church of Baseball | Fan Interference

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