The Virtues of Baseball

It’s known as America’s pastime, it has been around since the Civil War, and it is an exceptional showcase of virtue, sportsmanship, and talent. I am, of course, talking about the sport of baseball.

This week on Morning Air, host John Morales talked with former Chicago Cubs chaplain Fr. Burke Masters about baseball and the virtue we can find in sports, a timely topic as we arrive at the All-Star break. An advocate for promoting virtue in sports, Fr. Burke was a large proponent of bringing Mike Sweeney’s Catholic Baseball Camp to Chicago to help teach young kids about the game and the virtues that will help you become both a better player and a better person.

Fr. Burke talked about the opportunities that the camp provides to the attendees, including drills and practice, faith testimony, adoration, confession, and the virtue games, all organized by baseball professionals. He emphasized the fact that they impart to the parents and kids what it means to be a devout Catholic and they do it in a fun way by infusing it with sports.

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John went on to ask Fr. Burke about humility, a virtue ever-present in the world of sports. Fr. Burke said, “I once heard someone say, ‘There are two types of people in the world: There are people who are humble and there are those who are about to be humbled.’ And baseball does that to you.” In Fr. Burke’s senior year of college, he participated in Mississippi State’s regional tournament and he went 14 for 22 at the plate and was named MVP of the tournament. One week later, he played in the College World Series and went 1 for 12. He said that humility is living in the truth of who you are and while you should recognize your gifts and talents, you must understand that everything you have is a gift from God.

Fr. Burke learned humility that week and realized that he had nothing without God’s help.  Without God, there is no talent, no skill, and no feel for the game. There is no hard work, no discipline, and no work ethic.

Watching the MLB draft on Sunday, Fr. Burke couldn’t help but think about how God, in His wisdom, chose sports as a conduit through which He would allow grace, guidance, and communicate messages about virtue. Sports, while essentially just games, have so much to teach about humility, hard work, patience, charity, perseverance, and sportsmanship. “If you’re a parent and thinking, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I want my kid to play sports,’ these virtues can really be developed in sports. We also have to keep in mind that they are just sports, but they’re a means to an end of hopefully becoming a better disciple.”

In closing, Fr. Burke talked about perseverance, likening the virtue’s presence in athletics to its presence in our spiritual lives. The going will get tough, in all aspects of life, whether it be in a professional, academic, athletic, or familial capacity, but there is always a way forward.  Ignoring the call to throw in the towel and answering God’s call to forgiveness and perseverance is all that he asks of us in our path to salvation.

Listen to the full conversation below:

Tune in to Morning Air weekdays at 5am CT

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John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.