Chicago, Chaplains, and Baseball

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America Magazine recently published an article I co-authored with Mike O’Loughlin about chaplains in Major League Baseball. Mike, being a Cubs fan, spoke with Cubs chaplain Fr. Burke Masters (who ironically used to play in the White Sox farm system before entering religious life). I was able to speak with White Sox chaplain Fr. Bernie Danber and White Sox manager Rick Renteria.

Due to space constraints, the article America published only had one quote from Renteria, although I was able was able to ask him a few questions outside the scope of the article. Below is an edited transcript of my interview with Rick Renteria on his faith life and how it intersects with baseball.

Tell me a little bit about your faith background and your upbringing.

I was raised in the [Catholic Church] and I've never departed. I think I've had, like any parishioner, ups and downs, but I've tried to remain consistent. I don't think I would ever lose my faith in our Creator. So that that will remain in spite of all my imperfections. And I think that for me, it [faith] kind of is my place to go and kind of regroup. You know, you're living everyday life with so many different things going on and you just try to make sure that you make the best sense of it. And carry on and be kind obviously, be loving as possible and do the best that you can, which [is how] we've been brought up.

I was also curious about faith in the ballpark and faith on the field, and how you carry that with you into games and your everyday life as as a baseball manager.

I don't think that as most people might think, you go in [the game], and you're not going to ask for victory, you're not going to ask for anything like that. I think you ask for guidance, to do the best that you possibly can, with the gifts that you have and to make sure that everybody comes out of a competition safe, that everybody gives their best effort. I'm sure there are believers on both sides of the field. So it would be ridiculous to go out there thinking that you're going to ask for a victory. You're not going to divide the Creator. I mean, he's given us all the ability to do what we do, so more than anything, just take your abilities to the best that you possibly can. And your best effort to try to put yourself in a position where you're respectful of everything that's going on around you. Obviously, competition can get heated. That's just the nature of competing. I think there are times when I certainly have lost my cool... But I think at the end everybody, every group, they understand where we stand away from the field and how we deal with ourselves and each other on a personal level and [you] just try to be the best you can be.

[Fr. Danber] mentioned that part of the reason that you like going to Mass is to be able to interact with other people from the ballpark, just “the regular guy.”

I don't believe that I'm above anybody else. I mean, I'm from very humble beginnings. And I think that we all have a place alongside of each other. Everybody that works at the ballpark has a part to play and how everything moves on a daily basis. And they're just as important as the players on the field. Everybody has their part in this place, so to speak. And I think we owe it to ourselves to be accountable to each other and to be able to share time together at the end of the day.

You take away all the frills and whatever you might want to be and we come back down to just basically being human beings that we have connections with in the most fundamental and basic sense. And I think none of us are above being able to converse with another fellow human being [whether] a believer [or] even a non-believer. Just being able to be out there with everybody, I enjoy it. I think that it makes us more human to everybody else and understand that we do also have needs and wants and desires that probably can only be satisfied through connecting with each other.

Read the entire America article here.