As a part of opening week festivities, Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori announced today that the Episcopal Church has been designated the Official Denomination of Major League Baseball. The move was announced today in a teleconference with reporters.
"Faith oriented promotions have increasingly become a part of many minor league team," Selig said. "We felt that it was time to tap into this important demographic."
"We also want to reinforce our family friendly image while at the same time reaching out to a wide cross section of life-styles, incomes and tastes," Selig said. "We are pleased that the Episcopal Church will join us in this first partnership between a major sport and a church."
Many denominations were considered for the endorsement. Some traditions did not make bids for theological reasons, but unnamed sources described the behind the scenes competition as intense.
"The Baptists and Catholics both made strong bids," said a baseball official familiar with the negotiations. "And it is true that both traditions brought strong numbers to the table." Few commentators expected the Episcopal Church's bid to be as strong as it was.
Selig said that Episcopalians bring the right mix of arcane tradition, an appreciation of minutiae and a tolerance for long stretches of relative inaction that make them "a good fit for us."
"We believe that Episcopalians understand the nuances of the game and won't meddle with our traditions too much."
As part of the agreement, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori said that a Suffragan Bishop for Baseball will be appointed. A name will be presented at a special House of Bishops meeting called for the purpose in May. The ministry of the Suffragan Bishop for Baseball will be to coordinate the ministries of the church in the baseball environment.
"The designation of Official Denomination will be a boon to our evangelism," said the Rev. Jan Nunley. "Reflective MLB logos will soon appear as a part of the well known Episcopal Church Welcomes You signs in front of every Episcopal Church and along many streets in towns and cities across the US."
Observers also noted that the designation will also help the public differentiate Episcopal Churches from other churches that have recently appropriated the Anglican "brand" for their own use.
"The Episcopal Church encompasses many nations that differ along language and cultural lines—from the Dominican Republic to Taiwan--but we all share a love for Baseball," Nunley said.
"Theologians and poets have long described how the rhythms and traditions of baseball speak to us on many levels," Jefferts Schori told reporters. "Baseball shows us the presence of God in everyday things, that sublime combination of individual and team effort which reminds us of the Body of Christ and in the end God wants us all to come home."
Saying only that the marketing possibilities have "yet to be worked out" neither Selig nor Jefferts Schori would comment on rumors that pre-packaged Holy Communion and box-score editions of the Book of Common Prayer would be offered at kiosks at major league parks.
While some religious and sports commentators expressed skepticism at the move, and some wondered if the Presiding Bishop had the canonical authority to establish such a relationship, others were more forgiving.
"Baseball and Jesus." Nunley said. "They go together like peanuts and Cracker Jack."
Great news for a great day.