“I’ve never been very comfortable looking in the mirror. Life can be so much easier without the messy complication of self-examination.”
– Michael O’Connor, talking about the marriage relationship in his book Sermon on the Mound.
It seems to me, sadly, that baseball is no longer Americas favorite pastime. Still, it’s my favorite sport – the memories, the long, grand history, and because I was raised and live in the Los Angeles area, there’s Vin Scilly, broadcaster for the dodgers.
But this post isn’t about Vin Scully’s last year as the voice of the Dodgers. That’ll be a topic for a post later in the year.
This post is about how at this time every year, as the season starts, I look to read a book with a baseball theme. Last year it was Calico Joe by John Grisham. In past years some of the choices have been Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, Men at work by George Will, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach and I Never Had it Made by Jackie Robinson.
I went back to the book shelf this year and picked out an old favorite written by a friend of mine about 15 years ago. The name of the book is Sermon On The Mound. The author’s name is Michael O’Connor.
He wrote quite a different kind of book on baseball. You see, Michael sees baseball as the perfect game. And I mean, he really believes it’s the perfect game. Even more than that, he believes God invented the sport. That’s a big part of what the book is about.
“If someone besides God created baseball, I have yet to see evidence that would hold up in court. History, depending to which version you subscribe, credits Abner Doubleday or Alexander Cartwright with the game’s invention. But I know better. One of those guys may have applied for the permits and laid the foundation, but God inspired the blueprint.”
Michael is a good guy who has written a really good book. But if pressed I would have to admit he has one major flaw, and he mentions this in the book.
I’m a Los Angeles Dodgers fan. Michael’s defect is that he’s a die-hard San Francisco Giants fan. And it should be noted, as baseball fans are well aware of the last decade, Michael’s book was written several years prior to the San Francisco Giants recent World Series Wins.
The book is without a doubt about baseball. But much more it’s about how the game has entwined Michael’s life in every way. It’s about faith, and incredibly how he “found God” through the failure of the Boston Red Sox to take game 6 of the World Series in 1986.
The book is out of print but you can find new copies, when I last checked, on Amazon for as little as $2.94. There were even a couple used copies listed for just $0.01.
Most anyone would enjoy the book, but in particular baseball fans will catch Michael’s many references to the sport and those associated with the game over the years. And if you happen to remember or even grew up during the 1960’s you’ll be delighted with his many pop culture references. Throughout the book Michael finds a way to infuse every paragraph, nearly every sentence with his unique sense of humor.
If you make an effort to get a hold of a copy, it would be worth it. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
“I didn’t ask for you to feel the way you do. You’re influenced by an illusion. Writers are magicians. They write down words, and, if they’re good, you believe that what they write is real, just as you believe a good magician has pulled the coins out of your ear, or made his assistant disappear.”
– J.D. Salinger, from the novel, Shoeless Joe, by W. P. Kinsella