I believe in the Church of Baseball . . . For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary, and there are 108 stitches in a baseball.
Bull Durham, Susan Sarandon
The Church of Baseball
Somewhere buried in a file of “important” papers, there is a certificate with my name on it signifying that I was baptized at a small Catholic Church in Artesia, New Mexico. To be honest, not only do I not remember that day (I was less than 2 weeks old), it took me years to understand the significance of the moment when the priest placed water on my head. You see, on that day, I wasn’t just baptized into the family of God; God claimed me as one of His children.
Years later, in a Cathedral called Shea Stadium, I was baptized again. There might not have been any water placed on my head, and I didn’t get a certificate to prove the day happened, but on that day, I fell head over heels in love with a game. So on that day, sitting next to my Uncle Joey, watching his beloved Mets sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in a doubleheader, I was baptized into the Church of Baseball.
At the young age of 7, I had no idea how these 2 baptisms would intersect and change my life one day. By the time I was 8 years old, I had realized that my dad was never going to be part of my life, so I turned to baseball. My dad might have abandoned me (I believed God did as well), but I knew the Mets would always be there for me. From February to September (and maybe even October), they would be there for me…rain or shine, win or lose. The Mets and baseball became my passion and the one constant in my life.
Years later, events in my life led me to give God another chance to be part of my life. And when I did, I began to see how those 2 baptisms intersected; I began to see a mystical relationship between God and baseball. I even began to understand that my dad might have abandoned me, but my God never did. I realized that my dad didn’t want a relationship with me, but my Father in Heaven longed for a relationship with me. So, weirdly, it was my love of The Game that introduced me to the love and grace of God.
Sure, there have been times in my life when I have struggled with my faith as well as the direction the game of baseball was going. But both continue to have me in their grasp, and I keep returning to what attracted me to them initially. And over the years, both have taught me about love, loss, and even life itself.
Whatever you think about God, baseball, and the relationship between the two, I ask you to suspend your judgment over the next few weeks as I blog about this fantastic relationship. Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, God will use The Game to reveal His love and grace to you as He did to me so many years ago.