“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.”
Susan Sarandon as Annie savoy in Bull Durham
While I may disagree with Annie Savoy about the Church of Baseball being the only church, I think we would agree agree that there is something sacred about the baseball park, and that there are similarities between the ballpark and the sanctuary. There are rituals for worship and there are rituals for baseball. You pray a lot when you are involved in either one. We sing, out loud, together, as a community in church, and we do the same at the baseball game. To hear the whole place sing “take me out to the ballgame” – -where else do we do that? There are rules to the game and an order of worship. And we pause to remember those who went before – -there are reminders of those who made the place great – -in churches we hang plaques, in baseball stadiums we retire numbers.
Baseball stadiums remind me of my Grandfather. I remember the first game I ever attended was with him. It was a minor league game in Portland, OR and I had no idea what was happening. He patiently explained, over and over again, what was happening and why. I remember him doing the same thing when he would watch games at home — explaining the rules or telling us the stats of the players. When I moved to Atlanta, my classmates and I would go see the Braves play every once in a while. And we began a new ritual, the two of us. I would call him, out of the blue, and tell him to turn on TBS and look for me in the stands. And he would. I don’t think he ever saw me, but I knew he was looking.
Last night was the first time I have been back to Turner Field since he died. And as we entered, we walked past the place where I made that last phone call, and I thought about him. “Look for me…” As we took our seats and the sun began to go down, the sunset was stunning. I think it was him, looking at us.
There was a game last night. There was also a group who worship together spending time together. It was good conversation, the first major league game for 2 children, laughter and fun. We sang, we cheered, some of us even danced. It was a good time.
No, baseball is not church. But I will argue that there is something sacred about it – -at least for me.