Religion Unplugged

After No. 45’s death, baseball gods smile on Angels in outfield and on pitcher’s mound

By Bobby Ross Jr. | GetReligion

Baseball is a religion all its own, full of traditions, rituals and unexplained miracles.

Anybody who ever has seen the movie “Field of Dreams” — or watched the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs finally claim World Series titles — knows that. (Eventually, my beloved Texas Rangers have to win the big one, right?)

Sometimes, the gods — the baseball gods — make their presence known in ways that even nonbelievers must find impossible to ignore.

How else to explain what happened in Anaheim, Calif., on Friday night?

Here’s how ESPN described what happened:

ANAHEIM, Calif. Mike Trout shook his head.

“You can’t,” he said, pausing for a moment to gather himself. “You can’t make this stuff up.”

The Los Angeles Angels scored seven first-inning runs Friday night. They finished with 13. Tyler Skaggs’ birthday is on the 13th day of the seventh month, which just so happens to be Saturday.

“I’m speechless,” Trout said. “This is the best way to honor him.”

The Angels honored Skaggs with an emotional ceremony before their first home game since his sudden death on July 1. They honored him by donning his No. 45 jersey. They honored him by inviting his mother, Debbie Hetman, onto the field for the ceremonial first pitch. And they honored him, improbably, with a combined no-hitter, delivered by Taylor Cole and Felix Pena in a 13-0 trouncing of the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium.

Angels manager Brad Ausmus called it “one of the most special moments I’ve been a part of on a major league field in 25 years.”

“You feel like it’s partly Skaggsy’s no-hitter,” he said.

A Hollywood ending?


It was more than that, said

Read the full column.

• • •

All of my GetReligion columns (July 2019):

‘I see God through his creation’ — a fantastic story about an unlikely topic: Sikh truck drivers. Published July 1.

Ghost in Alabama ‘personhood’ case? New York Times produces religion-free front-page story. Published July 2.

As always, it would be helpful if news orgs were precise in gay rights vs. religious freedom stories. Published July 3.

Friday Five: 2020 politics, doctrine-defying Catholic teachers, Mormons in the news, Mongolia fundraiser. Published July 5.

Associated Press hits the high points — just the high points — in story on religion of 2020 Democrats. Published July 8.

‘No more faith-based than Satan himself’: Houston Chronicle digs into health-sharing ministry. Published July 9.

Trump, China tariffs and God’s holy word: Is there really a chance of a Bible shortage? Published July 10.

A male gubernatorial candidate, a female reporter and a Pence-like storm over ‘Billy Graham rule.’ Published July 11.

Friday Five: Billy Graham rule, Marianne Williamson, nun’s curveball, MZ’s Kavanaugh book. Published July 12.

After Tyler Skaggs’ death, baseball gods smile on Angels in the outfield and on the pitcher’s mound. Published July 14.

New York Times features free church weddings for cohabiting couples, with predictable criticism. Published July 15.

A curse and a curious description: Trump’s famous ‘Two Corinthians’ gaffe makes headlines once again. Published July 16.

News reports say poll paints bleak picture of clergy’s role in American society — but does it really? Published July 18.

Friday Five: Rachel Zoll update, Notre Dame fire, bad vibrations in NYC , Kent Brantly’s next mission. Published July 19.

Potty-mouthed president? For some, ‘Send her back!’ not the most offensive thing said at Trump rally. Published July 21.

Washington Post goes to church in Greenville, N.C., and offers some nuance about Trump’s rally. Published July 22.

It’s obvious how CBS News feels about possibility of Arkansas going down to only one abortion clinic. Published July 23.

The liberal reporter and the conservative pastor: Inside Texas Monthly’s big story on ‘Trump’s Apostle.’ Published July 25.

Friday Five: RNA lifetime winner, new Forward editor, funny obit, Jeffrey Epstein, Rob Moll tribute. Published July 26.

Poynter takes on Fox News’ ‘repurposing’ of other publications’ religion stories without proper credit. Published July 29.

Washington Post goes to ‘Southern Bible Belt’ to produce predictable story on abortion debate. Published July 30.

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