Play Ball! 

  • ​I love baseball. I can’t help it. I don’t watch a lot of reality, DIY, or cooking shows. My guilty pleasure is baseball. The American pastime. Whether it’s local little league, small town farm teams, minor league, or the holy grail of the MLB – it all boils down to the game. The basics. The rules. The rituals. Strike three, you’re out. No reviews.

Baseball resembles religion in a lot of ways. According to John Sexton, President of NYU and author of “Baseball as a Road to God”, the park is like a cathedral. And Joe Price, professor and co-director of The Institute for Baseball Studies, says he started to relate Greek mythology and baseball. The pitcher’s mound as the cosmic mount where creation began. It is the closest point of contact between humans and the deities.  The bases are the 4 Cardinal directions. And home plate is south – which signifies comfort, warmth, and security.

In his book, “Rounding the Bases: Baseball and Religion in America”, Price talks about the shrines that the sport has. The Hall of Fame, statues, plaques. Just like there are religious shrines: St. Peter’s Basilica, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, etc.

There are seemingly ‘miracles’ in baseball history. “The Catch” by Willie Mays in 1954 is so famous it has its own Wikipedia page. The Curse of Bambino haunted Boston for 86 years. But the phenomenon of their 2004 season broke that. The comeback by the Royals last season beat 1000 to 1 odds. The unbelievable perfect game pitched in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series by Don Larsen. It was the only perfect game in post season history until 2010. These aren’t exactly walking on water or healing the blind, but still amazing nonetheless.

Speaking of miracles in the Bible… Personally I have no issue comprehending all of the physical ailments that Jesus was able to heal. But for some reason, the others were a little harder for me to wrap my head around. The Immaculate Conception. Turning water to wine. Calming the storm. The fact that they aren’t as ‘believable’ is what makes them so astounding though! Jesus was obviously the chosen one if he was able to do these things. God empowered him in order to show us that he is indeed His son, the Messiah. Greg Robbins, pastor at Heath Church of Christ, reports that another possible reason for the miracles, is to show us “a glimpse of the world that is to come”.

In baseball a .333 batting average is considered great. Which is only 33%. One third. Which means 66% of the time, they’re striking out, yet are still considered good. We all mess up (hopefully not 66% of the time), but it is okay. We can still make mistakes and be good and glorified in the eyes of God. We, like athletes, can try harder next time. We can pray. We can practice. We can improve.

There aren’t any verses about baseball in the Bible, but the following scripture readings are about athletics/physicality.

1 Corinthians 9: 24-27
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control

2 Timothy 2: 5
An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules

Hebrews 12: 1-3, 11-13
…Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed

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