Baseball as a Road to God
Seeing Beyond the Game
A love letter to America's most beloved sport and an exploration of the deeper dimensions it reveals
For more than a decade, New York University President John Sexton has used baseball to illustrate the elements of a spiritual life in a wildly popular course at NYU. Using some of the great works of baseball fiction as well as the actual game's fantastic moments, its legendary characters, and its routine rituals—from the long-sought triumph of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, to the heroic achievements of players like the saintly Christy Mathewson and the sinful Ty Cobb, to the loving intimacy of a game of catch between a father and son—Sexton teaches that through the game we can touch the spiritual dimension of life.
Baseball as a Road to God is about the elements of our lives that lie beyond what can be captured in words alone—ineffable truths that we know by experience rather than by logic or analysis. Applying to the secular activity of baseball a form of inquiry usually reserved for the study of religion, Sexton reveals a surprising amount of common ground between the game and what we all recognize as religion: sacred places and time, faith and doubt, blessings and curses, and more.
In thought-provoking, beautifully rendered prose, this book elegantly demonstrates that baseball is more than a game, or even a national pastime: It can be a road to a deeper and more meaningful life.
“In the church of baseball, John Sexton is one of the preeminent theologians.”
—Bill Moyers in an interview with John Sexton on Bill Moyers Journal
“This book takes the reader on a remarkable spiritual journey, using the secular sport of baseball to explore subjects ordinarily associated with religion—prayers, altars, sacred space, faith, doubt, conversion, miracles, blessings, curses, saints and sinners. There is magic in these pages.”
—Doris Kerns Goodwin, from the foreword
“ . . .a thought-provoking proposition for zealots and skeptics alike.”
“An elegant little meditation on life and the afterlife, well worth reading . . .”
"John Sexton has written beautifully about the magic of baseball: its near irresistible appeal, its legends, its breathtaking moments of drama, its heroes and villians. He has also written with great insight about the intense-felt character of religious perception. And he has—dare I say it?—woven the two together miraculously."
—Ronald Dworkin, author of Law's Empire and the recipient of philosophy's prestigious Holberg International Memorial Prize
"Baseball as a Road to God is both a wonderful collection of delightful baseball stories that allows the reader to relive the moments of joy, despair, anxiety, and inspiration, and a meditation demonstrating that baseball is rife with the profound and complex elements that constitute religion. The stories reflect a love of baseball and call upon us all to live slow and notice, illustrating the availability of a joyful, spiritual life."
—Governor Mario Cuomo
"Baseball as a Road to God illuminates baseball as you've never experienced or thought about it before. John Sexton has given us nine 'innings' of lively stories and insights that take our national pastime far, far beyond the playing field. He has pitched a perfect game!"
—Arthur R. Miller, professor of law and resident scholar at Good Morning America for more than two decades
"John Sexton's book, Baseball as a Road to God, provides a thoughtful and intriguing examination of the connection between baseball and religion. In this wonderful book, John navigates in clear language the complex questions linking faith and America's favorite pastime. Using his parlance, this book is a home run."
—Rachel Robinson, founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation