Feast of St Julian the Martyr of Tarsus
ERIC HOSMER made an uncharacteristic mistake in Game One of the World Series on October 27, 2015. He misjudged the angle of the ball’s bounce near first base and allowed Wilmer Flores’ groundball to get by him. The Golden Glove winner let the Mets score the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. He had sinned against the standards of his position and his team. An Error was charged against him in the record books, never to be erased. Hosmer acknowledged his grievous fault after the game: "It took kind of a funny hop," [he] said, "but no excuses. I have to make that play."
He needed redemption; he needed to atone—these are the terms the sports writers used.
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Alex Gordon redeemed him by hitting a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning and tying up the game. Hosmer had no words, according to the reports: he could only hug Gordon in the team's dugout. Then he waited for the chance to atone.
Twice he struck out, in the tenth and the twelfth innings—then he atoned for his error in the fourteenth by hitting a fly ball into right field. The runner on third scored and the Royals won after five hours and nine minutes.
Hosmer had hit a walk off, game ending RBI (a run batted in) and in the lexicon of baseball, it was a sacrifice. The Mets’ outfielder had caught his fly ball and Hosmer was out (the first and only out of the inning); Alcides Escobar had beaten the throw to home plate.
By coming home, one player (Gordon) had redeemed him; by sacrificing, Hosmer had atoned for his error and enabled Escobar to score the winning run.
Redemption; atonement; sacrifice: these baseball terms have greater theological meanings that all Christians hear echoed in the play-by-play and analysis. Hosmer called Gordon his hero; we call the one who redeems us our Savior. We have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God; we seek the forgiveness of sins and atonement. Our sin affects the whole community, wounding the Body of Christ—it has consequences. We may fail and fail again; through our sacrifice we may atone in some way, but only through Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice do we find redemption.
Stephanie A. Mann is the author of Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation, available from Scepter Publishers (and at Eighth Day Books). She resides in Wichita, Kansas and blogs at www.supremacyandsurvival.blogspot.com