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Bible Baseball

by Tim O'Hearn

Some people may disagree, but the best final score in baseball is 1-0, and the best possible score is if your team is the one having scored the one run. We are now in a time, and maybe always have been, when people want to see home runs. Some baseball purists, however, would rather see runs manufactured a base or two at a time, and still others think the best thing in baseball is a pitcher’s duel. A double no-hitter going into the last inning would be the closest thing to heaven on earth. Some other people of questionable intelligence do not even like baseball. But baseball is biblical.

Of course, there is the old idea that God created the world “in the big inning.” (Genesis 1:1) It must not have been much of a pitcher’s duel because he hit a home run almost every day that week. “And it was good.” (Except on day two.) Then on the sixth day he must have hit a grand slam, because he saw that “it was very good.”

The Bible makes reference to several baseball teams. David slew a bear and a lion (1 Sam 17:36), and although those are football teams, he might also have dealt with their baseball equivalents, the Cubs and the Tigers. We know for sure that he faced that bicoastal team, the Giants, and won. Although some of his teammates also faced the Giants, David won with only one pitch, a fastball. (One might even speculate that David was playing for the Rockies that day.) Noah played for the Brewers. (Gen 9:20-21) Thomas was one of the Twins. (Jn 11:16) Saul and David headlined a whole team of Royals. Perhaps the biggest team was the Angels. God even wrote a letter to a baseball team; but he addressed it to their city—Philadelphia—rather than to the Phillies. (Rev 3:7ff)

In baseball there is offense and defense. Everybody plays both, but some are better known in one or the other category.

Several people are more notable because they were in the field rather than on offense. Cain took his brother in the field, and it was a slaughter. (Gen 4:8) Isaac must have been a right fielder, because he had time to meditate there. (Gen 24:63) Gideon’s mother played in the field, but may not have been too good because she just sat there. (Judg 13:9) Shepherds apparently make good fielders. (Lk 2:8) The brother of the prodigal must have made some errors, because he was angry when he came in from the field. (Lk 15)

On the other hand, some people were more noted for their batting skills, although they didn’t always use a conventional bat. Moses smote a rock with his rod (the origin of stickball). (Num 20:11) Some used the edge of the sword (Num 21:24, Josh 8:24, et al), although that probably meant they needed a new ball after every foul or hit. Perhaps the strangest substitute for a bat was used when Samson was called on to pinch hit; he grabbed the jawbone of an ass. (Jud 15:15-17)

There are even some baseball stadiums mentioned. In recent years games have been played at Wrigley Field and (before a name change) Jacobs Field. In olden times there were fields where games were played. A team under a guy named Hadad played to such a victory over the team from Midian in Moab Field that it was still famous after several years. (Gen 36:35; 1 Chron 1:46) David sang the praises of wonderful games in Zoan Field. (Ps 78:12, 43) Perhaps more famous in its day than Wrigley Field or Ebbets Field was a stadium purchased by Abraham, Machpelah Field. It was such a famous place that you might even say people were dying to get in there. (Gen 23:19; 25:9; 49:30) They don’t let people sprinkle cremains over Wrigley Field, but they let a number of people be buried at Machpelah.

There is a saying that “baseball isn’t like life; baseball is life.” When your team is perpetually losing, you might even add that “baseball is death.” More people have claimed to have seen Babe Ruth’s “called home run” than the stadium would hold. In like manner, maybe you can brag that you saw Goliath get hit by the pitch that put him out of the game for good.