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NY Post
New York Post
8 Apr 2023


NextImg:Spring brings new life, promise of growth — and baseball!

For Jews and Christians, the arrival of spring allows us to observe the towering feasts of Passover and Easter, and the season of the year closely mirrors the religious seasons as well.

With spring comes light, warmth, the renewal of nature, fresh growth, and the end of the chill and darkness of winter. With Passover and Easter come God’s deliverance from sin, death and oppression, the promise of new life and revival. And with spring comes another potent force in our culture: baseball!

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As Vin Scully, the boy from the Bronx and alumnus of Fordham, the legendary baseball announcer – – whose life I was just honored to celebrate with a Memorial Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral – – used to comment, “Nothing tells us spring is here more than the sound of the crack of the bat, the ball hitting the leather of the glove, or landing with a plop on the green grass sodden with a soft April rain.”

Many have commented on the parallels between religion and baseball, which is good to recall now that our Mets and Yankees have returned, and we celebrate the “high holy days” for Jews and Christians.

Both have a keen sense of ritual and tradition, reminding the player, the fan, and the believer that we’re part of something beyond us, something that fascinated generations before us.

We hold up heroes, whose prowess was inspirational, whether Moses and David, Mary and Joseph, and the saints of Catholicism, or the Babe and Lou, the Scooter
and the Yankee Clipper, Mantle and Maris, Seaver and Koosman, Jeter and Judge: Rules are important for both baseball and religion. People of faith call this “morality,” as we too have foul lines, a strike zone, and a judgement “safe” or “out.” (Okay, you can “steal” on the field, but not in religion!) Both also count on trained and fair umpires – – read rabbis and priests – – to call “fair or foul.”

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Then there’s the sense of timelessness, as neither baseball, Judaism, nor Catholicism keep a clock. It’s as if we’re part of the eternal, lifted from the hum-drum schedule of ordinary life, absorbed into an event that has no dependence upon the wristwatch. For that reason, both also require a sense of patience and anticipatory waiting, as we look
forward to an ultimate victory.

The Cardinal at Easter mass in April 2021.
REUTERS

Teamplay is essential to both. In the sport, a dazzling pitcher will still confess his dependence upon stellar fielding and productive batters. So, Jews and Catholics form communities, teams, as we depend upon one another for prayer, support and encouragement when we may be in a slump, good example.

Religion and baseball both have errors. People of belief call them sins. They hurt us and the team, and can end up in defeat.

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Judaism and Catholicism both have a start and a finish, which happen to be the same place. We Catholics, and our fellow Christian brothers and sisters, rejoice that Jesus, our Savior, has conquered death itself, as He rose from the dead on the first Easter Sunday. As George Carlin famously noted in his skit comparing baseball and football, the batter starts at home plate and yearns to score by returning there; the believer comes from God and is invited to return to Him for all eternity.

The two – – religion and baseball – – rely on hope. For people of faith, we hold fast to God coming through, for our repentance, His mercy, and a second chance. And for baseball, well, there is always the next inning, tomorrow, the rally, or even, as Brooklyn Dodger fans famously repeated, “Wait ‘til next year!” the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus would agree with Yogi, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

On and on I could go – – as both baseball and religion at times do! – – but you understand: baseball, religion, springtime . . . all similar.

See you at Yankee Stadium or Citi field; or, even better, at the synagogue or the parish church!