Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Is there any sporting venue more appealing than a Major League Baseball field? The brilliant green grass, the perfectly powdered infield, arrow straight virginal white foul lines, and a pitcher's mound scaled to exacting specifications all contribute to the cathedral like solemnity. That all that solemnity can be scarred by dashing, diving ballplayers, and screaming fans witnessing their onfield playmaking, only makes it more appealing. We don't mind the gouges put into the field by those players as long as the effort that produced them contributes to the spectical and adds another chance to score a run for the home team. Besides, there are always grounds crew minions ready to erase those scars and return the field to its required perfection.

I had the good fortune to witness a MLB game last evening at Miller Park here in Milwaukee and, as it does every time I get there, the ambience of the stadium and perfection of the field stirred in me a feeling of reverence first, and then awe. That we provide such elysian fields, and indeed find it necessary, for our athletic heroes to toil on, speaks to the sense of wonder and respect we have for those sporting adventures. A major league baseball field is the ideal that all boys, no matter their age, dream of playing on at least once in their lives. Any Little League ballplayer who ever swung a bat or fielded a grounder or chased down a deep flyball to center wonders how it would feel to do those things on a perfectly groomed field in front of thousands of apreciative fans. Dreams are made of stuff like that. And dreams are what keep the fans returning to witness more of those ball games where they project themselves by proxy onto the outfield grass and infield dirt. And dreams require perfection, so that is what the fans get when they enter the cathedral of sports, the big league stadium, where every blade of grass stands tall and straight and every grain of infield dirt is sized exactly right.

I doubt that there is any kid, and I include every baseball fan in that group since baseball keeps the kid in all of us alive, who wouldn't pay any price asked by the devil for one at bat or one inning at shortstop on such a field. The chance to play just once where major leaguers play is the baseball fan's heaven. Mountain climbers have Everest, golfers have Augusta National, football fans have Lambeau Field and baseball fans have Wrigley or Fenway. The venues in which we worship sport are sacred ground that inspire the requisite awe and keep us coming back again and again for another dose of perfection. Some might consider that misguided passion, but I think any place that can stir our quest and appreciation for perfection is worthy of our attention. So I, for one, look forward to my next opportunity to enter into that special place where boys can dream boys' dreams and the crack of the bat and slap of the glove and cheers of the crowd are the hymns of reverence.

And, oh yes, the Brewers beat the Cardinals 12-2 on a barrage of hits in the fifth and sixth innings that aroused the joy of the fans and elicited a virtual caucophony of reverent hymn singing. Can I get an amen.


The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

Amen! As the mother of a left-handed pitcher and of a brand-new little leaguer this spring, I share your passion for baseball. Here in Red Sox Nation, we worship regularly and often, although, I must confess, I have a heretic in my family. My younger son, for a reason known only unto himself, is a YANKEES fan!!!

Kat said...

There's nothing better than a baseball game. I love the sight of flags flapping in the breeze, the sun beating down on the perfect field and that feeling that anything can happen you get at the beginning of any game. Even the second game of a double header. Go Pirates!