ST. LOUIS (RNS) There’s controversy at the mound at Busch Stadium, and it has nothing to do with who’s pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Pitcher Todd Wellemeyer pitches from the mound at Busch Stadium in 2009. Photo by Shane Epping

Pitcher Todd Wellemeyer pitches from the mound at Busch Stadium in 2009. Photo by Shane Epping


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Last month fans started seeing a cross etched into the pitcher’s mound at the stadium. Since then, the club has asked that the etchings stop.

“It is not club policy to put religious symbols of any type on the field or in the ballpark. When we became aware of this practice, we asked that it stop so that it would not be confused as an official expression of the club,” the Cardinals organization said in a statement.

“We have fans of all faiths and various beliefs. We strive to provide a welcoming environment for all fans to enjoy baseball, regardless of their faith, politics, race, financial status or any other factor.”

The team’s general manager, John Mozeliak, said he learned of the images from media reports and immediately asked the grounds crew to halt the practice.

“I didn’t ask for the reason behind it,” he told the Post-Dispatch. “I just asked for it to stop.”

Pictures show a small cross etched into the pitcher’s mound, along with a No. 6 to honor Cardinals slugger Stan Musial. That caught the attention of one Cardinals fan watching from his home in New York City.

“I thought that ownership should take it down, I didn’t make any demand; that was my opinion,” said Michael Vines.

“For a baseball team that represents an entire community that brings the entire community together to be part of something that is much bigger than themselves individually and in that way it’s much like religion. Religion does the same thing, but there are places for each and this is the public sphere.”

After seeing it for the first time last month, Vines went back and studied other games.

“I went back and I reviewed previous games and I went to random games it was on all of them and I went to opening day when Jaime Garcia was on the mound and it was there too,” he said.

Other Cards fans disagree, saying it’s OK to have the cross.

“As a Christian, I loved that someone could express themselves and not worry about necessarily being politically correct,” said Cardinals fan Todd Hannaford.

“If the players would like to have that there then I think they should be able to,” said David Zdvorak, also a fan.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri said the Cardinals, “as a private organization … enjoy the constitutionally protected freedom to choose to display a symbol of religious faith on their private property, or to choose not to.”

(Elizabeth Matthews writes for KSDK and USA Today.)

KRE/AMB END MATTHEWS

8 Comments

  1. We already have enough of the “star & crescent” effects in this and most European countries. This is mainly a Judeo-Christian country primarily, and NO Islamic country would allow any other, including non-Christian, symbols. Why? But, of course, we supposed to allow them to do as they chose and bring sharia with it.

  2. Kind of buried the lead there. Was it in memory of Musial? Because for an individual, unlike a war memorial, the symbol only need match that person’s faith. Complaining about something so small invading the public sphere seems a touch reactionary-like. Vines sounds like Ned Flanders in the Simpsons episode were he’s reviewing tapes for FCC violations.

  3. As a Christian, I applaud the Cardinals’ decision to discontinue the practice of holding up one faith through an etching on the field. There are frequent displays of faith by individual players during the course of play (usually after a home run or hit in a do-or -ie situation) and this allows free expression. But a cross etched into the mound in a multi-faith world is inappropriate, as would be the symbol of one political party. Baseball is not about holding up any particular ideology, but about the beauty and elegance of human capability, team work and the desire to win, sometimes against the odds.

  4. Non-HatefulAtheist

    I’m an atheist and I love the Cards, and I see nothing wrong with the cross if the players wanted it there. Separation of church and state doesn’t mean that no religious symbols can ever be displayed anywhere; it only means the government can’t promote one religion over another (i.e., crosses in courtrooms or gov’t buildings). If the players had no problem with the cross being there, neither did I.
    Even though I’m not a believer, I respect rights of others to have and express their own beliefs as long as it’s not harming anyone. Most athletes thank god or Jesus after a win, but if people like Michael Vine get their way, that’ll be outlawed too.
    This is ridiculous. I respect the ballpark managers decision, but overall I think the whole original complaint was just ridiculous and mean-spirited.

    Michael Vine is NOT a baseball fan, he’s just a guy with too much time on his hands who hates religion and goes looking for a way to disrespect it in any setting where he can find it, however small and insignificant. I find it immensely sad that he can’t find a more productive use for his time.

  5. I just believe there are somethings you don’t do , disrespecting family members is one , making fun of the less fortunate is another , but removing a well known religious symbol , I don’t think that is to smart.

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