Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin has made something of a name of himself in answering questions about the faith that lie decidedly on the bizarre size (Current favorite: “If Baby Yoda is physically 50 years old but has the characteristics of a toddler, is he still required to abstain from meat and fast on Fridays in Lent?” Answer: It depends. Assuming he’s a member of the Latin rite, he has to start abstaining from meat once he’s 14 years old and is expected to do so for the rest of his life, but once he turns 59 he no longer has to fast. But if he is developmentally an infant, then he doesn’t yet have the sufficient use of reason to override his instincts as an obligate carnivore. In that case, he doesn’t.)

As the previous question indicates, Jimmy Akin takes all comers with great seriousness. He once gave a thorough hearing to Flat Earth theories for one hour and nineteen minutes without snorking one single time. (The airline captain/Air Force veteran he interviewed on the matter, however, did not exactly appreciate the Flat Earth accusation that every single member of every single flight crew is in on a giant conspiracy to cover the Real Truth of a disk-shaped Earth.) A fair man is Jimmy Akin.

So even though he doesn’t give much indication that he’s a great sports fan, he is a far more charitable person than I, so I paid close attention to what Mr. Akin had to say when asked if we will enjoy sports in heaven. (Answer: If you need sports to be happy in heaven, then you will have them.)

This led me to wonder how baseball in heaven might go. I don’t mean a field in Iowa. I mean the actual afterlife with actual harps and chocolate forever.

One of the reasons sports is such a Thing here on Earth is that it provides us a sense of belonging, companionship, enjoyable distraction, and appreciation of human ability at its highest level. Properly conducted, sports provide appropriate and temporary relief of the burdens in this world of sin, as long as kettlecorn is involved. Improperly applied, sports are just as corrupt as any Medici papacy. We’ll find what we bring to it.

I don’t believe we will require stress-relieving distractions in heaven, and only people we prefer to spend time with will act as our dining companions (a reason for introverts to strive for the ultimate up escalator if I ever heard one.) We will enjoy complete, harmonious peace and never feel the need to establish a tribal identity. So if we love everybody and everybody loves us, who do we root for? Is this still fun?

Jimmy Akin addresses this and suggests that we all might politely root for a tie, or simply enjoy the game and appreciate the skill-maximized victor, while the also skill-maximized vanquished doesn’t punch one single Pirate. This sounds more soothing, but hardly more entertaining.

Now if you’re of a certain religious persuasion, you might believe in the Last Resurrection, which means that when what was threatened in 2000 and again in 2012 and again, again in 2020 actually comes to pass and our reality of leggings and Air Supply in the grocery blessedly ends, we will be reunited with our bodies in their best possible form. And not only that, Akin points out: We’ll have superpowers.

We’ll be able to bilocate.

We will not (as far as I understand it) suffer injury.

We can vanish and reappear at will and, in fact, enjoy immortality.

The possibilities these upgrades present more than compensate for losing the stirring sight of the entire bullpen pouring onto the field to jump up and down on some Cubs.

But this second characteristic seems most intriguing. No DL/IL; concussion protocols and netting debates are put to rest. You take a sizzling liner to the face and keep on pitching.

Now I want to hear what you think: Baseball in heaven? If so, what does it look like? Highly speculative answers only.

14 Responses

  1. Mark Moore

    What immediately came to my mind was the end sequence of “The Sandlot” where Smalls talked about what each kid went on to become. All that was based in the near-perfection of pickling Hercules, the game just continuing when guys moved away, and The Jet’s stealing home just because he could.

    That’s the kind of “sports” I expect in Heaven. Different than what we know, but familiar to all we love. If that means Iowa to some, so be it. If you find it in the sheer joy we witnessed in Nippert Stadium, that’s just great. It’s about joy, after all.

    Thanks for this one, MBE. It brings a warm feeling to my heart on a cold, damp day.

    • TR

      Historic Nippert was certainly alive for the undefeated Bearcats. As life goes, the next day was a downer when we expected a win over the Chargers.

      • Mark Moore

        One of the myriad of reasons I gave up following my NFL Miami Phish Phootball Phranchise.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      That’s a wonderful thought– different than what we know now, but still familiar enough to recognize and enjoy. Every fan should have a moment like the UC folks did this weekend. Good for them 🙂

      • Tomn

        The Reds would win, at least most if the clutch games. There must be some uncertainty, even in heaven, for baseball to be fun. Maybe each fan’s heaven will have different outcomes.

  2. Bred

    Since The Book of Revaluations states that Heaven will come down to Earth and not the modern notion that we ascend to Heaven, baseball will certainly be part our after life. Because God is the creator of all thought, it follows that God, is a fan of the game. Would God create something he did not enjoy?
    How God has had a hand in shaping the game beyond its creation is there for all to see. God’s ways are not our ways, and God’s is slow to anger and action. He made all the great Negro League players like Buck O’Neil, Satchel Paige to put pressure on the racists white owners, and then God created Jackie Robinson, and the color barrier was broken.
    Just relating to the baseball miracles God executed in my life I am certain God tried to stop the trade of Frank Robinson, but people don’t always listen and make mistakes. He let years go by, and the Reds kept paying for their foolishness. God’s forgiveness is never ending. To that end he gave us the trade for Joe Morgan, and the BRM was born. I recall that the Royals and Braves went from last place to World Series Champs. I am certain there are other magical = miracle moments that we attribute to luck, but really it was just God rooting for a person or team. How else can the Miracle Mets be explained?
    Baseball will be played, and we will get to witness all the greats in the old stadiums and sandlots where games were played. Imagine getting to witness the Negro League players playing Shadow Ball. Babe Ruth calling his shot, or Satchel Paige yanking the 7 behind him off the field. God will be behind the microphone announcing games, and maybe we will be seated next to Angels. What we will witness we be heavenly.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      What an awesome comment. I love the suggestion that we make room for God’s hand in the game, and I love the idea of cheering with celestial beings. Maybe some of our best announcers can take turns at the mike. Thanks so much for this 🙂

  3. David

    Baseball? Heaven?
    I would like to play catch with my Dad. He’s been dead over 44 years.
    And sit with him again at a game. The last one we saw together was the Reds beating the Cubs in 1975. And he could sit with his grandsons, that he never knew.
    A place where dreams come true.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      That is beautiful, David, and one of the reasons why I don’t see how anyone can watch the end of Field of Dreams without tearing up at least a little. I hope that someday you see your Dad waiting for you, glove in hand.

  4. Mary Beth Ellis

    Thanks for chiming in! My concept of heaven is of course Catholic influenced, but I like to hear everyone’s ideas. Everyone is going to have a different one, even from the same faith 🙂

    But yeah, sometimes I fear the MLB (lockdown, ownership) is well on its way to eradicating baseball here on Earth before we even get there.

  5. greenmtred

    I hadn’t heard about Garrett’s political activism. I’ve seen instances of hyper-competitiveness; is that what you’re describing as activism? And, Mary Beth: I’m certain that if you want harps and chocolate in heaven, they will be there for you.

  6. Jimmy Akin

    If I may make a suggestion, rather than politely rooting for a tie, it might be *passionately* rooting for it. Seeing sports played in heaven might be like watching a dance, where you want to see both participants perform perfectly, and you cheer each exquisite move they make. In the case of evenly matched opponents, perfect performance would result in a tie. In a case of mismatched opponents, it would result in one winning. But the joy may be in seeing each perform maximally and better than they ever could have on Earth. FWIW. Also, no refs who make bad calls. God bless all!

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      The man himself! We are honored to have you here at RN. Many thanks for chiming in. You’re right– passionate tie-boosting is much better than polite tie-boosting. Beautifully said, and we’re all looking forward to maximally performing umpires and refs.

  7. Tomn

    I must be bound for hell. The idea of passionately or politely rooting for a tie – either is an abomination.