Marty Brennaman and ‘Meaningless’ September Baseball

I cried today.  I unashamedly cried today, which is generally not easy to admit, with the obvious exception of when referring to the final scene of Field of Dreams.  Today was Marty Brennaman’s last game as the play-by-play announcer for the Cincinnati Reds, marking the end of a 46-year career.

I thought about my childhood.  I thought about late nights and long drives with the game on the radio.  I thought a lot about my dad.  I’m confident that many others at Great American Ballpark did the same.

The emotions were caught somewhere between a perfect September afternoon and a funeral, life and death, eternity and the pitiless awareness of time.

Beyond giving myself an opportunity here to process these emotions, I’d like to draw out a thought on the verge of a prayer that I think is appropriate to the Christian life and evangelization.

Here we were, with the Reds mathematically eliminated from the playoffs long ago.  Yet the day was endowed with meaning.  The meaning was not superimposed as if writing a script or motivated by the wishful thinking for a perfect ending.  It didn’t even matter if the Reds won.  They in fact did not win.

The meaning was there.  We were just participating in it. 

Evangelization is often just that: helping another to recognize the meaning of things – the pre-existing purpose without recourse to productivity or subjective imposition.  Of course, as we know, Jesus Christ is the meaning of everything!

Meaning can be a bridge, an opportunity.  It’s a curious question to ask another what they find to be meaningful, followed by that even more penetrating inquiry, “Why?”  I promise you’ll learn a lot and likely find occasion to insert the event of Jesus Christ into the conversation or even to pray.

Everyone is searching for meaning.  Some days it’s more palpable than others and it can bring you to tears.  But the Catholic imagination must see it every day.  And the missionary disciple must point to it again and again and say, “Look!”  Or, in the case of a Cincinnati Reds broadcast, “Listen!”

Thank you Marty Brennaman for a Hall of Fame career!  May God bless you and your family in retirement.