Ah, baseball season. Itchy flannel uniforms, no gloves, the old hidden ball trick, handlebar mustaches. What?!
Oh, I meant to specify baseball as it was played in the 1880s.
You see, one of the great traditions in Hingham, Massachusetts, is the annual vintage baseball game held on July 4th weekend and sponsored by the Hingham Historical Society.
You've never heard of "vintage baseball?" It's a thing. Think Civil War reenactors for the sporty set. Middle-aged guys living out their sports fantasies in throw-back style wearing period uniforms. And it's pretty great -- spectators and players alike get into the spirit of another era. You can hear "huzzahs!" and and even some 19th century trash-talking, although I've frankly never been able to distinguish between "tomfoolery" and "ballyhooing."
In the end the Derbies defeated the Coopers in a tight game, 4-3, to earn bragging rights for the next 12 months.
This year I was invited to give an invocation of sorts just before the singing of the National Anthem by Laura Winters, a parishioner and Hingham Historical Society booster.
Since between us we couldn't come up with anything other than "The Blessing of the Balls," we decided not to insert this item into the official program. But of course I couldn't pass up the opportunity to have some fun with it.
If you ever have occasion to, um, bless the balls in your own hometown, feel free to use the following.
The Blessing of the Balls
Make them less concerned with losing and winning.
Than with a spirit of sportsmanship and fair play
As we prepare to celebrate this Independence Day.
We pray for the players and fans; we give thanks for this weather
We pray for hands catching balls without leather.
May the Coopers and Derbies play with unabashed hustle
while not pulling anything worse than a muscle.
Give to the umpire the gift of impartiality
To insure the game does not end in his fatality.
So bless these bats and bless these balls
And help us to revel in the wonder of it all.
And when the final out has been made
let us give God our thanks and our praise.