Fr. Casey Cole and the MLB Summer Tour

Recently on Morning Air, John Morales welcomed Father Casey Cole onto the show to discuss his mission to tour all 30 MLB stadiums this summer with Father Tito and invite people home to the Catholic Church. Father Casey is a Franciscan friar who hosts two popular YouTube channels called Breaking in the Habit and Upon Friar Review.

John, who himself is an avid baseball fan and was a sports reporter for many years, asked Father Casey how he came to love the game and what baseball means to him.

Holy Land Pilgrimage with Drew Mariani

“In some ways, how do you explain how you love something? I don’t know if I can. I grew up with it. It was a place where my family came together. It was something that I was good at, and so I just loved being around the sport,” said Father Casey. But to him, baseball also holds a lot of value because it lends itself to certain spiritual practices. It requires patience, fraternity, and most of all, humility.

As Father pointed out, even the best players fail 7 or 8 times out of ten at the plate. The highest batting average in the MLB right now is held by Taylor Ward at .375. That means he gets a hit 3.75 times out of ten. Baseball requires that you fail, fail, and fail again. But you have to be willing to shake it off and get back in the game. It’s not about you. It’s about the team.

But why go to MLB stadiums to bring people back to the faith?

“For us, it was really just, where do people gather? We were told when we were in formation as Franciscans that St. Francis himself didn’t go to the churches. He went to the city streets. So where are the city streets today? And I think this is a cathedral for a lot of people; it’s where they worship. And so, we want to go to one cathedral to invite them to another.”

John agreed with the aptness of that analogy, saying that there is a similar awe factor when you walk into a beautiful Catholic cathedral or church as there is when you walk into a historical or magnificent baseball stadium. Father Casey looks forward to meeting with people in the space of these iconic fields like Wrigley in Chicago, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Camden Yards in Baltimore.

Father said there’s something so unique to visiting baseball stadiums because they’re all different. No two fields have the same walls, the same seating, the same dugouts, or the same architecture. As fun as football and basketball are, everything is uniform.

And baseball fields are different in that way, just like churches. No two are the same. That’s why you can look at the apse, the art, the ceilings, the architecture, the altar, the pews, and a million other things and see the unique differences that give a church character.

“There’s always something, as odd as it may be, special about each one.” Catholicism recognizes that beauty and aesthetics matter, not for the superficial reason of visual pleasure, but for the reason that beauty is Godly. Seeing something truly beautiful and magnificent is a glimpse into perfection.

John recalled the old lesson that baseball is a metaphor for life, and he asked Father Casey what things he learned from the game when he used to play.

Father echoed his previous thoughts on patience and humility, saying that those lessons were hammered into him as he turned from little league to middle and high school baseball. Learning to fail as a child doesn’t start off as an easy lesson because we believe that we have squandered the opportunity we have been given. But, eventually, we figure out that it’s just a game, there’s always another opportunity, and the game doesn’t ride on us. It’s about the team and it’s about brotherhood.

Tune in to Morning Air weekdays at 5am CT.

Holy Land Pilgrimage with Drew Mariani
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.