Do We Ever Need Baseball

April 5, 2010

It was in 1733 that Alexander Pope penned the famous verse, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”  Whence the line?  Maybe it can be attributed to something in Pope’s Catholic upbringing.  Or maybe it arose from his general, lifelong observations of man.  Or maybe, just maybe, Pope, in a prescient moment, gleaned that line from his observations about something else going on in the 1730s in England: the old game of “stoolball” being referred to more and more as “baseball.”  Indeed, it would be a mere decade later, in 1744, when the word “Base-ball” would for the first time appear in print.

Baseball teaches one many things, not the least of which is hope.  It does not matter how badly one’s team finished the year before, the season opener in April provides reason to hope.  T.S. Eliot could not have been a baseball fan, for no baseball fan would ever write, “April is the cruellest month.” Read the rest of this entry »

Jesuit History 101: Basketball

March 16, 2010

In The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius of Loyola extols the value of “holy rivalry.”  Perhaps that Jesuit virtue helps explain the notable success Jesuit schools have had over the years in men’s college basketball.  As four Jesuit teams (Georgetown, Gonzaga, Marquette, and Xavier) prepare to the take the court in this season’s NCAA tournament, let’s take a crash course in Jesuit history—Jesuit basketball history, that is.  Here are my top ten postseason moments in the history of Jesuit basketball:

10.  Seattle University’s 1958 Final Four appearance. Long before the NBA instituted the dunk contest, basketball fans watching the 1958 NCAA tournament were awed by the aerial acrobats of Seattle University star Elgin Baylor.  Baylor propelled Seattle all the way to the 1958 NCAA title game, where the Chieftains eventually lost to Kentucky.  Baylor was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player. Read the rest of this entry »

Favre, Hopkins, and the Languor of Youth

September 13, 2009

Brett Favre will begin his 19th NFL season today.  And yet if there is one word I associate with Favre, it is youth.

My reasons are twofold.  The first is personal.  Growing up in Packer-crazed Wisconsin meant watching Favre play Sunday after Sunday – in fact start every game for his team since I was a nine-year old fourth-grader.  Much has changed in the years since: friends grew up and got married, loved ones died, girlfriends came and went (as did my hair), somehow I ended up as a vowed Jesuit.  But Favre remained.

The second reason is Favre’s style of play.  How many times have I heard people exclaim when watching Favre, “He’s like a little kid out there!”   Read the rest of this entry »