BASEBALL AND RUMORS OF ANGELS (George Weigel, 4 . 3 . 24, First Things)

Baseball is played on a field that is theoretically infinite. While the inner diamond is carefully calibrated in precise (some might say, divinely inspired) measurements—90 feet between bases, 60 feet 6 inches between pitching rubber and home plate—the foul lines and the outfield could, in principle, be extended forever: a possibility that came closest to realization in the vast center field of New York’s old Polo Grounds (which in turn gave birth to Hadley Arkes’s great historical mnemonic: “I can always remember when St. Augustine was born—it was 1,600 years before Willie Mays robbed Vic Wertz at the Polo Grounds”). Unlike a football gridiron, basketball court, or ice hockey rink, baseball is played in an environment that hints at infinity.

Then there is time. Before the advent of Manfred Man—the ghost runner who now mysteriously appears at second base in the tenth inning of a regular-season game—a baseball game was potentially endless: another signal of eternity embedded in empirical reality. Still, even with the aberration of Manfred Man and the new (and, I confess, welcome) pitch clock, the fact that a baseball game unfolds without a temporal countdown, unlike sports played within a fixed period of time, is another of Peter Berger’s rumors of angels: a quotidian experience that lifts us out of the humdrum of the here-and-now into a different, transcendent realm—a realm akin to the timelessness of heaven.