Last Sunday was a big deal for my family. My daughter, Amelia, 7, got her First Communion at St. Therese Catholic Church in Seattle. Now, my husband and I never considered ourselves particularly religious – and, honestly, probably bordering on the religiously apathetic – but I’ve gone to church with my daughter just about every Sunday since January because she wanted to get Communion. I warned her… that she’d have to pony-up and start going to church…. but she was not deterred. So, I was there , too. (Father and son, 6, sleep in and watch cartoons.) Anyway, there was a party, etc., etc. she got cards and presents.
What does all of this have to do with baseball? Well, there are many who consider baseball a religion. We’ve all probably heard that mentioned in jest. But there are those churches that have “baseball worship services.” I heard about them a while back and just decided to delve into the topic more thoroughly. And I found some pretty interesting stuff.
For starters, a decade ago there was a church in northern Georgia that narrowly averted legal action brought on by confused parishioners when the sermon revolved around baseball. This public rebuke was met with an apology from the priest in charge, who was probably equally confused. But, it’s his job to know his flock, yes? I wonder if MLB would have sent in a team of lawyers to defend the guy.
Here’s a time where the readings in a sermon adapted a passage from the book of Romans in the New Testament. The reverend used some baseball terminology: “And so, fellow teammates, I plead with you to give your team to God. Let them be willing to make a holy sacrifice–the kind deep in the outfield. When you think of what God has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of the other team, but let God transform you into a new player by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his coaching really is.” (Romans 12:1-2 NRBV – New Revised Baseball Version)
In fact, the guy who wrote that adaptation, Rev. Larry Davies, included a portion of it in his book, Live The Light, where members of his church face-off in a game against some of the game’s iconic players.
If you have a subscription to the New York Times, you might find this article interesting (if you don’t have a subscription, you can read the beginning paragraph, which is also cool, and may entice you to get a subscription…) It is from 1912 and a church’s annual baseball worship service. Some of the New York Giants were in attendance. Probably just covering their bases. Ok. That was pretty bad. I’ll be here through Thursday, folks.
More recently, however, a writer drew comparisons to how the changes in his church are akin to the changes in how kids now like soccer over baseball (his assertion). Soccer, he said, is faster, and along with the added movement, there is more excitement. He looked at how his church could adapt and become more like soccer and less like baseball.