Last Good Friday, I YouTube’d the final scene from The Natural, one of the best movies ever (good for you, baseball!), and realized that it’s the Easter story.
The New York Knights pitcher has lost faith and is throwing the game, bought off by the silver dollars of the corrupt co-owner who can’t stand bright lights and wants the team to lose. And yet the game is close.
Roy Hobbes picks up Wonderboy, the bat carved from the wood of a lightning-struck tree (mystical Christ-child allusions). Wonderboy splits in two — His body, broken for us — on the first pitch. Roy tells Young Bobby of Cyrene, the Bat Boy of Arimathea, to go “pick me out a winner,” and comes back with his own creation, the Savoy Special. (John 14:12: “I tell you the truth, you will do even greater things than these.”) Wilford Brimley looks on, the Nicodemus of the dugout.
Next pitch, another foul. Two strikes. Two days. If he truly is the greatest, let him step up to the plate and hit a home run. The umpire offers him vinegar wine —Roy, you ok fella, can you go on? Roy turns his head away, back toward the mound. “Let’s play ball.”
Blood issues from his side, pierced with an ancient bullet. It soaks his uniform. The catcher sees it and readies the demon knuckle ball.
Third pitch, the crack, the earthquake, the eyes toward heaven… and with the shattering lights, the falling sparks, the winning run guaranteed, corrupt co-owner cowering in the shadows of the owner’s box, the Magdalene of his youth weeping with joy in the stands, the hands outstretched to hi-five his wounds with belief as he rounds the third day base, defeat loses its sting.
He touches home plate. Ascension.
Goodbye Mr. Spalding, truly this was the Son of God.
* Awesome old video shows Auburn (and Chewacla) of yesteryear
* Harvey Updyke in high school
* Could Bieber Fever save the Toomer’s Oaks?
* Toomer’s Corner after Punt, Bama, Punt
* Bo and Me
* Actor’s memoir sheds light on integration of Auburn football
* Bear Bryant’s lost year at Auburn
* The Secret History of Pat Dye Field
* Erin Andrews at Toomer’s Corner
* In the time of “Got 13″ she was a Tiger
* The Auburn player who played for Bama… and Busey