Last night my wife and I had the opportunity to go to the Phillies/Mets baseball game in Philadelphia. Now that we live several hours away from Philly, we can only go to one game per season. The evening was great: the weather was fantastic, and there were plenty of home runs; unfortunately too many of them were by Mets players.
At one point during the evening, I reflected on some similarities between going to a baseball game and being a part of a local church. I’m sure others have noted these and even greater similarities; here’s just what I saw.
A Sense of Liturgy
At a baseball game—regardless of league or team—there are some standard elements. Someone will throw out a first pitch. Someone will sing the National Anthem. In the 7th inning someone else will sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” There will be chanting and cheering and boos, depending on the calls in the field. And most will partake in the ritual meal: pretzel, hot dog, ice cream, beer or soda.
A Sense of Identity
Almost everyone comes to the game with similar clothing: a jersey or shirsy of the home team, a baseball cap, and perhaps a baseball glove. My wife and I ate at a local restaurant before the game, and we could immediately identify every person that was going to the game later solely based on their clothing.
A Sense of Community
Rarely do you ever go up to a complete stranger and high five them, yet this always happens at a baseball game. Strangers are united behind their common love of a team, as well as their common hatred of the other team. In our section of the stadium, we were surrounded by Mets fans. They came from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, but they left the game like brothers.
And this community also holds the past in high regard. I saw dozens of people wearing jerseys of players from previous eras: Schmidt and Halladay and Seaver—the greats from the history of both teams. Fathers told their sons about the time they went to the ballpark and saw this player do that amazing thing. And at Citizens Bank Park, like many other stadiums in America, there are plaques and monuments venerating these great players.
A Sense of Wonder
In the game last night, the two teams combined for a total of 11 home runs—tying the NL record for most in a single game. The Mets fans were especially euphoric, as their team had 8 of them! Throughout the night, this sense of amazement and wonder was draped over all who were present; we knew we would never see another game like this. And perhaps that is why people love baseball so much, because at every game, and with every pitch, you have the opportunity to see something amazing. Whether it is a massive home run, a diving catch, or a fantastic throw, spectators are left in wonder of a remarkable play that just happened on the field.Tweet