What Catholicism & Baseball Have in Common

Happy Easter!  I’ve been away from blogging for a few days as I was visiting family over the holiday weekend.  This week, I’m on break from school, so I’m hoping to post more regularly.

Although I missed posting this great list by Vatican reporter extraordinaire and one of my heroes, John L. Allen Jr. on MLB’s Opening Day, it’s definitely worth checking out:

Baseball Catholic Boy

  • 1. Both baseball and Catholicism venerate the past. Both cherish the memories of a Communion of Saints, including popular shrines and holy cards.

  • 2. Both feature obscure rules that make sense only to initiates. (Think the infield fly rule for baseball fans and the Pauline privilege for Catholics.)

  • 3. Both have a keen sense of ritual, in which pace is critically important. (As a footnote, that’s why basketball is more akin to Pentecostalism, since both are breathless affairs premised largely on ecstatic experience. I’d go into why football is pagan, but that’s a different conversation.)

  • 4. Both baseball and Catholicism generate oceans of statistics, arcana, and lore. For entry-level examples, try: Who has the highest lifetime batting average, with a minimum of 1,000 at-bats? (Ty Cobb). Which popes had the longest and the shortest reigns? (Pius IX and Urban VII).

  • 5. In both baseball and Catholicism, you can dip in and out, but for serious devotees, the liturgy is a daily affair.

  • 6. Both are global games especially big in Latin America. The Detroit Tigers are thought to have one of the most potent batting orders in baseball, featuring two Venezuelans, a Cuban, and six Americans of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Take a look at the presbyterates in many American dioceses, and the mix isn’t that different.

  • 7. Both baseball and Catholicism have been badly tainted by scandal, with the legacies of erstwhile superstars utterly ruined. Yet both have proved surprisingly resilient – perhaps demonstrating that the game is great enough to survive even the best efforts of those in charge at any given moment to ruin it.

  • 8. Both have a complex farm system, and fans love to speculate about who the next hot commodity will be in “The Show.”

  • 9. Both reward patience. If you’re the kind of person who needs immediate results, neither baseball nor Catholicism is really your game.

Baseball Nuns

Baseball Priest

The first part of the article, reflecting on what Christians and atheists have in common in combating religious extremism, is worth reading as well.

FYI: The fact that it is the Cardinals in the image above in no way implies that I’m a fan.  My fandom leans strongly in this direction:

Baseball - Red Sox

Baseball - Red Sox 2

And now that the NCAA Men’s March Madness is concluded, so is Crux’s Saint’s Madness.   And the winner is…



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