Baseball stadium and Cathedrals… think about it

Baseball is the game God loves most.

It is therefore perfectly reasonable that baseball parks ought to be designed much as a cathedral might be. 

This from The Lion and the Cardinal (edited and with my emphases and comments):

I still love baseball, however. I’ve spent more than a few hours constructing Gothic Revival ballparks in my head. While at the game, I mentally compiled a short list of immediate changes in policy that I would make were I the owner of a baseball team, to dramatically improve the experience of watching the game. Bear in mind, of course, that doomed contrarian anachronism accounts for a healthy nine-tenths of my opinions on all subjects.

1) Tear out all the JumboTrons and electronic scoreboards. These more than anything poison the experience of watching live sports. If a man wants to watch TV, he can stay home.  [I know there are churches in which texts are projected on walls…. brrrrrr….]

2) Forbid all canned rock music. The ballpark organ exists for a reason. Make the organist earn his living.  [No cathedral should have anything remotely resembling rock music, or folk.  It should have organ, however.]

3) Impose a dress code. Sport jackets and straw hats for men, ankle length sun dresses for women. Just like it was back in the good old days when the world was sane.  [This should be obvious in regard to cathedrals or any other church for that matter.]

4) Accept as much advertising as necessary, but mandate that it all be designed in an old-timey graphic style, reminiscent of the late 19th or early 20th century.  [A parish bulletin can have discreet advertising.  No problem there.  In the meantime we can remember that priests are always in "sales" while God is "managment".]

5) Sing all the verses to Take Me out to the Ball Game, not just the chorus. And by the way: the word is never: nnnnnnnever. There is a consonant at the beginning of that word. Nobody is allowed to act smart and claim that there is a double negative in the song. The words are being sung in the voice of Katie Casey, who is pleading her gentleman-caller to take her to the ball game. She is not currently at the ball game. When she says that she does not care if she nnnnnnnever gets back, she means that she would be perfectly content to remain at the ball game forever. This may be hyperbolic, but it is clearly what the songwriter intended.  [I think it is not always necessary to sing every verse of every hymn.  Some, however, are worthy of that.  And if we have more Gregorian chant we eliminate the problem of hymn singing altogether.  And yes, by all means, get the words right.]

After that I would begin gathering funds for the Gothic Revival ballpark. It would include a copper roof with numerous turrets (sort of a cross between the old South End Grounds and Craigievar Castle); tympana over the entrances surrounded by niches for statues of fondly remembered players; functional gargoyles caricaturing famous opponents; a tower hung with change-ringing bells to be pealed upon victory; a manual scoreboard vaguely resembling a winged altarpiece; and an astronomical clock with automata that reënact great plays from team history on the hour. And possibly a bear pit out among the center field foliage, like they have in Old Bern.

I like the idea of the bear pit, especially if it is still deemed necessary to have some sort of inter-inning fan participation event, like racing sausages and so forth.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Brian Sudlow says:

    Baseball is the game God loves most???????

    Don’t you remember the ‘hand of God’, Mexico 1986?

  2. Brian: There is no reason, really, to remember much about soccer (football) in general and even less reason to think much about Diego Maradona.

    I know many Brits must still be terribly upset by that goal. Come for relief to the cleansing rites of baseball.

  3. Brian Sudlow says:

    Well, if God wasn’t with Maradona when he scored his first goal, I think He might have been when he scored his second!

    As for cleansing rites, does baseball really surpass the contemplative vistas of cricket?

  4. Henry Edwards says:

    Baseball parks are cathedrals. Think about that!

  5. Janet says:

    Well God may like baseball but his Mother likes football. (Go Notre Dame!) :-)

  6. Henry: It is not without reason that I like you.

  7. Janet: Must we remind you that we are speaking of the Mother of God? I find it highly inappropriate to speak of Our Lady as a football fan. The next thing you know, you’ll be talking about the Irish… er um… the other Irish, the ones from that island.

  8. edmund campion says:

    Of course baseball is God’s favorite game. Have you never read “In the big inning God created the heavens and the earth.”

  9. Maggie says:

    “In the big inning God created the heavens and the earth.”

    And in the seventh He rested. Or stretched!

  10. Phil Lawler says:

    It is therefore perfectly reasonable that baseball parks ought to be designed much as a cathedral might be.

    Note that in a properly designed ballpark, when you stand at home plate you’re facing east. Does anybody ever complain that the umpire’s posture is ad orientem?

  11. Phil: You are raising a very interesting point. At a certain point in the ancient liturgy of the Vatican Basilica the people were instructed to turn around physically so as to face the East. That meant the priest was behind those in the nave. Get my point? Would that not make the umpire the priest figure?

    Can you shout at the priest during Mass when he obviously makes a bad call?

  12. Craigmaddie says:

    Soccer reference: if a priest leaves the Sanctuary during the Sign of Peace to shake hands with half the congregation can we rule him “off side”…?

  13. danphunter1 says:

    Father there is a really nive DVD called “Champions of Faith”,featuring many Catholic baseball players who wear their faith on their sleeves.Mike Piazza, Jeff Suppan etc.
    It is a moving testament to the faith, in the Almighty, as exhibited by major league ball players who put their faith in God, first and foremost.
    Interspersed throughout the film are shots of the wondrous Basilica Cathedral of St. Louis.Missori.
    After seeing this film I have no doubt that baseball is Gods favorite sport{I really had no doubt before}.
    God bless you.

  14. Patrick Kinsale says:

    Does one feel closer to God in Dodger Stadium than the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels?

  15. danphunter1 says:

    Neither.They are both monstrosities.

  16. Geri says:

    “Can you shout at the priest during Mass when he obviously makes a bad call?”

    I have advocated a practice not too far from this, actually.
    If a priest or deaco habitually “ad libs” his lines, congregants could begin ad libbing their responses.
    No, I’ve never really done it, but I like to imagine it would cure him of his liturgical Tourettes…

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  17. Craigmaddie says:

    Soccer reference: if a priest leaves the Sanctuary during the Sign of Peace
    to shake hands with half the congregation can we rule him “off side”…?

  18. Hank Petram says:

    Note that in a properly designed ballpark, when you stand at home plate you’re facing east.

    Hence the term “southpaw” (ad meridiem).

  19. maynardus says:

    “Fenway park is a shrine where people come for religious rites” – Former Red Sox pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee

    Mr. Lee has embraced Zen Buddhism and holds somewhat unorthodox beliefs on a variety of subjects, but there has never been anything wrong with his sensus baseballicus!

    BTW, for those who didn’t “get” the reference to the South End Grounds, the photos on this site will give you some idea:

  20. Bill Redic says:

    Two points; first, the important one:
    Americans will find this funny, but all others will think it quite unamusing,
    so I suggest they not even bother–

    Second, note that the architectural Bugninis of the world had their heyday in the same era when Annibale reigned – the late 1960s – during which time the baseball world was graced with those terrible, cookie-cutter, “concrete toilet bowl” stadii such as Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Veteran’s in Philadelphia, and Busch in St. Louis.

    Those disasters have justifiably been dynamited and replaced with far more traditional and human parks (Jumbotrons aside). Baseball, one might note, was not saddled with important personages declaring those modern “multi-purpose facilities” were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Baseball was free to call a disaster a disaster, without being labeled heretic or schismatic.

  21. Brian says:

    Baseball is what God watches when He wants to go to sleep.

    Soccer(futbol) is what God watches when He wants to be impressed by His own creation.

  22. Brian says:


    I’m American and did not find it funny one bit, bunch of Jim Rome cronies.

  23. Marcin says:

    I suppose it should have been “stadia” (pl. neut. of “stadium”)

  24. Paul the Pitiless says:

    There’s nothing finer than being at a Padres game on a Sunday afternoon.

  25. Cerimoniere says:

    Can you shout at the priest during Mass when he obviously makes a bad call?

    I do it all the time!

    Well, more a stage whisper really…and hopefully anticipated sufficiently to prevent the bad call from taking effect. Perhaps the best example would be when a rather elderly priest got confused during the Offertory, and just kept reading down the centre of the altar card. After Veni, Sanctificator, he saw the next prayer on the card, picked up the host, and began, “Qui pridie…” I was extremely grateful that I wasn’t distracted, looking to see if the thurifer was ready to approach, or some such thing. My knowledge of De defectibus probably wouldn’t have been equal to sorting out that problem after the fact!

  26. Is anybody listening at Notre Dame? Someone in the school of architecture there ought to give us some drawings, let us see what a gothic ballpark looks like.

    BTW, let me recall a suggestion I made when the baseball clock was removed from this page to lighten the processing load. I suggested that it be replaced by an autographed baseball, the autograph being one of the great Catholic players, and changing at random. That would involve almost no increase in processing load and would honor the many Catholic players of this game.

  27. Bill Redic says:

    OK, OK, I stand corrected and plead to amend the record:
    Americans aside from Brian and doubtless several others will find this funny…. etc., etc.

  28. Ttony says:

    God invented cricket to remind the English speaking world about Etrnity. The United States and Canada were the first countries to play an international fixture, even if they have adopted girls’ games like rounders and netball subsequently.

  29. maynardus says:

    Further to Mr. Redic’s astute comments, I’d note that the odious innovation of the “designated hitter” was foisted upon us in 1973, right in the midst of all of the other chaos. Not quite analogous to girl altar boys or anything like that, but still disquieting to the traditionalists’ sensibilities. Seemed like change-for-the-sake-of-change like so much else in those years…

  30. Richard Imgrund says:

    Add a requirement for “holy” stadium names! Now we have AT&T instead of Candlestick, Comerica Park instead of Tiger Stadium (where do the Tigers play now? They used to play at Michigan and Trumbull, the most famous address in baseball!), US Cellular (for the love of …) insted of Comiskey Park! At least we still have Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. I could take or leave the Orioles, but Camden Yard has to be the best name for a sporting venue ever!

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