Baseball as a metaphor for the Christian Life

The first comment on this post makes an interesting analogy between baseball and our Christian struggle to be a saint:

Baseball might be like the spiritual life in more ways than one. The best hitters only get about 2-3 more hits per week than the average ones. And so as our mind perceives it, superstars look virtally indistiguishable from scrubs on any given day. I wonder if that is true in the spiritual life also where even saints fall into bad slumps and may only do marginally better than mediocre on most days. But in a baseball career these small differences perhaps translate into membership in the hall of fame versus near oblivion for the average. Do small incremental differences add up this way in the spiritual life too?

I think this is an interesting point, especially since we’re told in both our spiritual life to take things one day/game at a time, forget about yesterday and just focus on what we can do today. I’m reminded of Orel Hershiser’s comments in George Will’s Men at Work when he said (paraphrasing): “I strive for perfection to the degree it’s achievable. If I give up a hit, it’s the last hit I’m going to give up. If I give up a run, it’s the last run I’m going to give up. What’s past is past, I need to focus on what’s in front of me now.” In either baseball or our life, if we focus too much on our mistakes and failings in the past, we’re likely to fall pray to more in the future. Move on from the past and do the best we can in the future.

The second response makes a good reference to Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, whose feast day is today, by coincidence. Saint Therese (also known as the Little Flower) often spoke of her “Little Way,” where she strived to do little things out of love for God. Saint Francis de Sales encouraged people to do “the ordinary extraordinary well.” The same is true in baseball: it’s often true that baseball players trying to hit a home run swing through a pitch because they were trying to do something big, but home runs often come when they take their normal swing. Swinging for the fences leads to strikeouts, but “staying within yourself” leads to success. And so the great saints tell us about the spiritual life.

Baseball: is there anything it can’t teach us?

One thought on “Baseball as a metaphor for the Christian Life

  1. Yeah, baseball teaches us a lot. It teaches us about “sacrifice,” that a pitcher doesn’t get credit for a “save” until the game is actually over, and that the object is to make it “home.”

    At the same time, “stealing” is allowed and the all-time home run leader is generally believed to have cheated.

    Plus, I never cared for inter-league play.

    But in sports, and even more in the spiritual life, my main man is Chiefs’ coach Herm Edwards: “You play to win the game.”

Comments are closed.