Sante Matteo, “The Journey Home in Baseball: The Bible and the Divine Comedy” (2020)

“In the middle of of our industrialized cities, surrounded by concrete, metal, and plastic structures, baseball parks enclose a green field, a vestigial ‘paradise’ in the original Persian sense of the word.  Within that symbolic space a ritual is routinely performed.  Throngs of worshippers (spectators, fans) participate vicariously while members of a revered priestly class (players, coaches, and umpires) re-enact the story of humanity’s exile from Eden and the perennial longing to return there: to make it all the way around back to home base.

“Circling the bases—itself an expression redolent of another perennial quixotic human quest: that of squaring the circle; or inversely in this case, circling the square: the bases forming a square, or diamond, that the base runner circles–and reaching home constitutes a journey analogous to the one that Dante undertakes in his Divine Comedy.  Finding himself lost in a dark wood, Dante sets off–with Virgil and then Beatrice as his first- and third-base ‘coaches’–on a voyage that will take him first through the circles of Hell (first base),  then the slopes of Purgatory (second base), and then the planetary and starry spheres of Paradise (third base), all the way to the Empyrean (home plate), where the souls that have achieved salvation dwell in the presence of God.” [. . .]  — Sante Matteo, “The Journey Home in Baseball: The Bible and the Divine Comedy,” KAIROS Literary Magazine, May 1, 2020

Contributed by Sante Matteo (Miami University, OH)