Dick Meister: The temples of baseball

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By Dick Meister

Dick Meister is a San Francisco-based columnist and former semi-professional baseball player. You can contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com.

Baseball season again. Time to re-enter the temples of baseball. Temples? Yes, temples.

To most people, baseball is merely a game. But to some others, it's virtually a religion, a game played in temples – the temples of baseball, be they Major League stadiums or any other baseball park at any level from the Major Leagues to the little parks at much lower levels where I played in hopes of making it big as a professional. But that's another story.

Of course baseball is a game. But it is indeed a game that is played in temples. Baseball parks are places of myth, superstition and legend, no less than the temples where the great myths, superstitions and legends of religion hold sway. Even the most casual fan is likely to know the myths and legends that make up baseball's storied history - Babe Ruth's called-shot home run in the 1932 World Series, for example. His whole career, in fact.

Temples are places of tradition and veneration, and ritual and order, of wisdom being passed from generation to generation, in baseball's temples from older players and managers to younger players.

Temples are also places in which to pay reverence to beauty. And what's more beautiful than the graceful motion and timing of baseball, its unique rhythm, the exquisite ebb and flow of action and anticipation, action and thought.

A ballpark also is very much like a temple in that it's a place to demonstrate faith – faith that your team can win, that there's always a chance of winning, whatever the odds. No Major League team, anyway, has ever lost all of the games it has played. Nor have many teams at baseball's lower levels, though I've played on some teams that came close.

So, those entering the temples of baseball know there's always a chance for their team to win. They can legitimately believe t it could happen. Fans know that the games are not over until the very last out of the very last inning, that the innings and the game can go on for as long as the players perform well.

The commandments in baseball's rule book promise that. There are no clocks measuring off quarters and halves, no point during a game when there is not enough time left to win, no rule saying how long it should take to make three outs and complete an inning, or how long it should take to win or lose a game.

Certainly life outside the temples of baseball may not offer quite so much hope. But if it did, who'd need religion? Who'd need baseball?

Dick Meister is a San Francisco-based columnist and former semi-professional baseball player. You can contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com.