Softball and Camaraderie

The best thing I did this weekend was definitely play softball. On Saturday morning, Sidney and I seized the opportunity to hit the diamond with some of our favorite friends. But our weekend fun would not have happened without the vision and hard work of others.

Our pastor at St. Mary Parish in the Spokane Valley, Fr. Jeff Lewis, loosely challenged our Young Adult Catholic group to develop a recreational opportunity, such as softball, for parishioners and others to partake in. Brian and Hailey Eames, a dynamic couple in our group, took Fr. Jeff’s challenge and ran with it.

Members of our Young Adult Catholic group surround Bishop Thomas Daly (center, with hands in pockets). Also pictured is Fr. Jeff Lewis (back row, tallest person in photo). People in this picture who played on the softball team include Dylan, Fidela, Brian, Hailey, Sidney, and myself.

Brian and Hailey chatted with their neighbors who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They pitched them (no pun intended) the idea of parishioners from our church playing a softball game against members of their church. The planning took place in June and a date for the matchup was set for August.

Toward the second half of July, Brian and Hailey held practices for us. Man, how nice it was to pick up a glove and bat again. Our coaches were so organized and encouraging that it made the practices a blast and instilled confidence in us for gameday.

A look at one of our practices held on a ball field at St. Mary Parish in the Spokane Valley.

At about 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, Sid and I left the house and headed in the direction of the Mormon temple. Our Latter-day Saints brothers and sisters were gracious enough to host us on their fields. Our worthy opponents generated a lot of interest among their ward, attracting enough players to field three teams compared to our one Catholic team. Although outnumbered, the arrangement allowed us to play a tournament.

Sidney up at the plate. It was nice to play on a team with her.

Our team won our first game. The team that was victorious on the other field then came over to play us. In a competitive nail-biter, our Catholic squad hung on for an 8-7 victory and a tournament championship.

Yeah, it was cool to win, but the morning was more special for various other reasons. Fr. Lewis and Fr. Kevin Oiland, the other priest who founded our Young Adult Catholic group, were both present to cheer us on. Also, Sidney and I got to play on an organized team together! Not only that, but we batted back-to-back in the lineup and played right next to each other in the field (me at first, Sid at second). I even got to meet some St. Mary parishioners for the first time.

Another person in the crowd was my brother. He took this photo of me. When our team was at-bat, I would serve as the catcher.

But the absolute best part of the day was the fellowship with our new friends. Everyone on the Latter-day Saints teams were kind, supportive, and humble. Players from both sides played hard but there was a lot of humor and encouraging words mixed in. After the softball concluded, our two groups walked to the picnic area for a joint cookout. Does it get any better?

What a thrill it was to play softball with our Latter-day Saints brothers and sisters.

On a sunny Saturday morning, Catholics and Latter-day Saints prayed, competed, and ate together. As we enjoyed the cookout, one lady approached us and mentioned that cars driving down the road by the fields were literally stopping to watch the action taking place on the diamonds. Of course they wouldn’t know that two faith communities had voluntarily come together in such a meaningful way, but that would be cool if they did. In a day and age where division is so strong and toxic, the example that was set over the weekend was a powerful one.

After the softball was played, there was a cookout for players, families, and spectators.

Thanks to Brian and Hailey and their Latter-day Saints counterparts who worked so hard to make this thing work out. What a success! Don’t Blink.