We went to mecca this past weekend. No, not Graceland but Cooperstown. We took the boys on a pilgrimmage to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame and stayed with some friends who actually live up there. I always thought Cooperstown was inhabited only by the ghosts of ballplayers past — like Shoeless Joe Jackson and Honus Wagner. But evidently you can live there even if you’re still among the living.
Bryna commented that she’d never seen the three of us (me, Ben, and Zack) so equally enraptured as we wondered around the HOF. This was actually my third visit to Cooperstown but I hadn’t been there since I was in high school. It’s still as magical a place as ever, full of “holy” relics like Jackie Robinson’s spikes and the bat used by Babe Ruth to hit his famed “called shot” World Series homer.
I may (sort of) joke about making a holy pilgrimage to Cooperstown but it’s amazing how much of our language surrounding sports revolves around religious imagery. Baseball greats are “enshrined” in the Hall of Fame and we refer to our baseball heroes as “immortals.” Just a few idolatrous touches but nothing really harmful as long as it’s all kept in perspective. If we save our true worship for God we’ll stay in pretty good spiritual shape. I have a special place in my heart for both Jesus Christ and Cal Ripken. The one was the messiah, the other a darn good baseball player. So slightly different job descriptions.
But you can mix the two. The day after spending the morning at the Hall of Fame I snuck in for an 8 am service at Christ Church, Cooperstown. Many writers have waxed poetic about the “liturgy” of baseball (thank you George Will). I’ll stick to the liturgy of the church but will always reserve the right to occasionally worship at the ballpark.