Collect ‘Em All!

After watching Ben cross himself before coming up to bat in a recent little league game I’ve been pondering the parallels between baseball and church. I won’t bore you with a George Will-like treatment of the game but it has been said that baseball is a form of liturgy. I wonder what this would look like if the corollary was true?

The Rev. Scott Gunn, commenting on my Facebook page, wrote “I have a ‘three strikes, you’re out’ policy with all liturgical ministers. It keeps the acolytes on their toes. Also, the Peace is akin to the seventh inning stretch. MCs are like third base coaches. Finally, the deployment process makes us priests into free agents.”

I like this line of thinking and would only add that hymn boards are the equivalent of the scoreboard on Fenway’s Green Monster; the Altar Guild is the church’s Grounds Crew; the Verger is the mascot (a la the San Diego Chicken); the bishop is the Commissioner — some of them even look like Bud Selig; and sometimes, in the middle of a particularly dry sermon, parishioners wish they could make a call to the priestly bullpen and bring in a relief preacher.

But I’ve come to the conclusion that the world needs clergy trading cards. Nothing fancy, just an action photo on the front with parish stats on the back. Even though priests are always saying “it’s not about the numbers” we don’t actually believe this. So we should put our numbers where our mouths are and stick them on the back of bubble gum cards.

Some of the info would be pretty basic: height, weight, diocese, wingspan when in the Orans Position. But I’d also like to see statistics such as weddings, baptisms, and funerals performed. As with baseball cards, this should be a year-by-year accounting along with the career totals on the bottom line.

One measure of effectiveness would be to offer a wedding percentage. This would be calculated by dividing the total number of weddings performed by the number of marriages that “stuck.” Thus if your wedding percentage was .750 it would mean that 2.5 weddings out of every ten performed ended in divorce.

Imagine the fun vestries could have as they pondered trading their under-performing curate for a seminarian to be named later. And imagine the joy of a disgruntled parishioner pinning the rector’s card up to the dart board in the family rec room.

They would still be sold in wax packs but rather than a stale piece of gum you’d find a stale wafer.

So collect ’em all! And look for my 2000 rookie card — it might be valuable one day.


5 Comments on “Collect ‘Em All!”

  1. Scott Gunn says:

    Don’t forget two more favorite statistics: average length of vestry meeting and number of parishioners who have left the parish in protest.

    Can’t wait to get my Fr. Tim trading card.

  2. Sarah Brockmann says:

    I LOVE this idea!!!!

  3. David Knight says:

    Best blog post you’ve ever had! Love the cards you displayed also. Of course I often use “Holy”, followed by um…other words…when watching my Cubbies play.

    I would add:
    BTF (Baptisms to funerals ratio – a high BTF readily equates to church growth.)

    By the way, after 8 years my Weddings that Stuck percentage is 1000%! Wasn’t there a movie about that, with Jessica Alba and Dane Cook, not long ago? I am ready to be in the sequel….

  4. Father Tim says:

    Oooh, thanks for supplementing the stats. Good stuff. I’m hoping to add a thermometer-like representation in the form of a candlestick to determine the catholicity of said priest. It will be based on a number of criteria including the frequency of incense use and number of genuflections per hour of liturgy.

  5. Joanna Depue says:

    Tim – Were you aware that there is a collector series of famous Rabbi trading cards? Honest! A big hit with the young Hasidic men in Brooklyn. They beat you to it!


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