Baseball Commits Cardinal Sin

Cardinal John O'Connor is sitting out the baseball season because the major leagues played ball on Good Friday.

"I love the Yankees. I love the Mets. I love baseball," O'Connor wrote in his weekly column in the archdiocese newspaper Catholic-New York. "But I will not go to a game because major league teams played on Good Friday."

O'Connor's decision is personal and is not a call for Roman Catholics to boycott baseball, archdiocese spokesman Joe Zwilling said.

While 15 games were played, O'Connor was particularly upset that the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians started their games during the noon to 3 p.m. period when, according to Christian tradition, Jesus was crucified.

"Why did they play during the Sacred Hours?" O'Connor asked. "I am told they insisted they couldn't miss a single day of the season. ... Even the stock market closes on Good Friday. Playing on Good Friday ... cheapens our culture. I resent it."

O'Connor praised the Boston Red Sox for acknowledging the holiness of the day. The team pushed back its home opener to 3:05 p.m. so that Christians could attend afternoon services and Jews could make it home for Passover, which began at sundown. Beer sales were also banned for the day.

Because the ecclesiastical calendar is different every year, Good Friday sometimes falls in March, before the start of the baseball season. Since 1984, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yankees have played only one day game on Good Friday on April 9, 1993, in Chicago against the White Sox.

Yankees spokesman Rick Cerrone said the team always plays its home opener during the day. He said the team was willing to reconsider that tradition.

"We don't pick when we open," he added.

The Indians asked the American League in a letter to "be more sensitive" about scheduling games on Good Friday.

"We regret that some people are inconvenienced, but it's impossible to create a 162-game, 30-team schedule without some problems," Major League Baseball spokesman Rich Levin said.

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