The High Holy Days of baseball

Baseballs aawait being tossed about on Opening Day in Houston in this 2009 file photo.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

(CBS News) In addition to today's religious significance, it's also Opening Day for major league baseball. Perfectly fitting in the view of New York University's President John Sexton, whose new book is entitled "Baseball as a Road to God." Writer Tom Oliphant was a contributor to the book, and has suited up to share his thoughts:

Finally, more than the seasons are changing.

A winter of blitzes, bombs and Beyonce is at last yielding to the quieter spring images of double-plays, curve balls and sacrifices. The seats at Citi Field in New York will soon fill up with Mets fans, who have suffered lately but still have hope.

The start of the baseball season also means that America's unique coincidence is upon us, the convergence of two very High Holy periods and one lower one -- Passover, Easter, and Opening Day.

For decades, the metaphor people have milked this accident of the calendar ad nauseam. It's not illegal, though there should probably be a special place in Hell for those who claim to see the Trinity in baseball's rule that three outs end an inning, or that the ballpark is a "cathedral."

The truth is, we can go deeper.

For years, a good pal of mine, John Sexton, the president of New York University, has been teaching a wildly-popular course with the mischievous title of Baseball as a Road to God.

I'm an eager participant every spring term.

What I've figured out is that there's common ground we can all learn from -- above all, the special feelings in seemingly secular settings that suggest the spiritual. The feelings can be as powerfully simple as having a catch with your dad. or watching the St. Louis Cardinals come back twice from being one strike away from elimination in the World Series, or actually hearing Jackie Robinson breathe as he sprinted home.

If religion or spirituality is to have any credibility. It has to be universal. And if it is, it can be anywhere, baseball most definitely included.

People always ask me if baseball is TRULY a road to God. The short answer is, "Of course not."

But the longer answer is a defiant "Yes," because either everything is . . . or nothing is.

So maybe today's messages CAN properly converge. A good Passover to you, Happy Easter, and Play Ball!

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