Ecclesiastes and Baseball

 On Sunday, at the start of my sermon read aloud through Ecclesiastes 4. The author, as usual, speaks about everything being meaningless. At one point, around verse 3, I commented—as an aside—“even though the Dodgers are doing well this year?”

And they are—as I write this they are only one game away from clinching the National League West.  Of course, as much as I love baseball, I have to admit that it really is just a game and thus, fits the meaning of meaningless as far as the author of Ecclesiastes is concerned.  Except.  Except in a thought that the author of Ecclesiastes also expresses, that in life it is up to you to find whatever pleasure you can find. And if you find any, then that’s a gift of God.  So in some way, maybe the Dodgers do lessen meaningless, at least for those of us who live in this part of Southern California. And given their overall season thus far, it does seem like a gift from God.

As I think about baseball, it brings up memories of my father, who passed away just this May. He was a talented athlete and I can’t help but believe, had his parents not discouraged him from trying, that he might have made a successful career as a professional major league baseball player.  As it was, he played fast-pitch softball for his base teams (he was 28 years in the U.S. Air Force) and consistently led his teams to first place as their pitcher.  He was one of the few people I’ve ever seen who could throw equally well with either his left hand or his right hand.  Batting was the same way, and he consistently kept his batting average above .400. 

The last time I saw him he reminisced with me a bit about his days pitching.  He told me “I was the best, the best that ever was—but now I’m just old.”  But what he enjoyed, even up until the day he died, was watching baseball on television.  And even though his favorite team was Cleveland (he lived in Ohio), baseball still helped keep him from thinking life was, to quote Ecclesiastes, “utterly meaningless.”