“I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions and most of the minor ones – I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan…”
-Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon in Bull Durham)
Happy Easter. Happy Spring.
The Lancaster baseball season kicked off today (Holy Thursday) with an exhibition game against the Lancaster Bible College Chargers. The Barnstormers won 17-0. I guess the Bible team either didn’t have God on their side, or else, maybe God was busy hiding Easter eggs for the big weekend ahead.
When I was a kid, Baseball was my favorite sport. My Mom was the world’s greatest Brooklyn Dodger fan, but I rooted for the same team as my Father, The Yankees. Then when I became old enough to bet, I switched allegiance to Harness Racing. Now, I am several hours away from a racetrack and only minutes away from a ballfield. So, I’m becoming a kid again.
As you can tell by the photo, there weren’t a lot of fans at the game, even though it was free to get in. If it wasn’t for the Bible College fans, it would practically have been a ghost town. The Charger faithful were there to cheer for every player on every play of the game. The Chargers know they are going to lose, but when a Bible College baseball player can be in a game against a real live minor league team, it’s a thrill for them and their fans just to be on the same field. The Barnstormers are a damn good minor-league team. Yet, if they had to face a major-league team like The Yankees, they would be praying harder that the Bible school kids were against them, and would be lucky to only lose 17-0. All things are relative. Einstein said that, and Einstein was in a league of his own.
The Lancaster Bible College sponsors the foul poles at Clipper Magazine Stadium, so I’m sure that the Barnstormers play this exhibition game every year to keep their sponsors happy. It’s always a rout, even though they sometimes give the Bible-thumping Chargers 4 or 5 outs in an inning. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in a ballgame. The Barnstormer manager (formerly Butch Hobson, now Ross Peeples) runs out onto the field after the Bible students have made three quick outs, and asks the umpire to give them a few more outs so that his pitcher can get a little more work. The Chargers are thrilled, because they want to get everyone on the bench into the game. You know what? It’s an exhibition game. This is one of those moments when winning or losing really is secondary to the joy of just playing the game.
There’s another exhibition game on Saturday. This time it’s against another team in their league, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, and it’s also Fan Appreciation Day. It’s free to get in, hot dogs are just a buck, and they have a lot of giveaways, like posters of the team. It’s a good day to get young player’s autographs, hoping that someday they’ll make it to “The Show.” I’ll be searching out Connor Root, #30, a 24 year old pitcher who’s the youngest guy on the roster. The last pre-season game will be against the Blue Crabs on Tuesday. Then the team starts the official season with a week-long road trip.
Unlike the fictional Ms. Savoy, I haven’t tried all the world’s major religions, but, like her, I’m sure that I will spend way more time this Spring at the Church of Baseball than in any of the other churches here in Lancaster. The Barnstormer home opener is on April 28th, and I will be there at Clipper Magazine Stadium with my friends John, Debbie, Mike and Deedee. Like John Fogarty would sing, “We’re born again. There’s new grass on the field.” Let’s go Stormers.
Can I get an Amen?
Peace & Love, and all of the above,