The Rt. Rev. Craig Loya


Beloved in Christ,

Tonight is the annual Episcopal Night at the Minnesota Twins. I look forward to seeing many of you, and enjoying an evening of simply being together as Minnesota Episcopalians. 

We had no way of knowing this when we planned it, but this is a day of immense historic importance in baseball, and in the history of race in this country. Today, Major League Baseball formally incorporated the statistical database from what are known as the Negro Leagues, a series of leagues for African American players, who were not allowed to play in Major League Baseball until professional baseball integrated in 1947. Thousands of players’ stories, achievements, triumphs, and contributions have been, until this day, excluded from the center of the baseball world.  

MLB’s move is not without complexity and controversy. The schedules and playing environments of the Negro Leagues were often episodic and erratic, the seasons were often shorter, and many would argue that it’s hard to know what to make of the statistics acquired under very different playing conditions. But, of course, that’s how systemic injustice works. The vastly different conditions were the result of systematic exclusion and oppression. Incorporating the statistics is a way of affirming and honoring the value of those contributions in the face of extraordinarily adverse conditions. And, it means there is a new all-time batting average leader, with Josh Gibson replacing Ty Cobb at the top of the all-time list. 

Baseball’s move today seems to me like a good model of the work of racial justice and healing we are always called to engage as followers of Jesus, both in and out of the church. We cannot undo the injustices of the past, but we are always called to make space for the light of love to shine fully on those mistakes, the damage they caused, and the legacy they continue to leave. We let this light shine not as a way of feeling guilt and shame, but in the trust and hope we always carry that God’s love can, has, and will redeem our broken pasts and their legacies of oppression, will move in and through us to build a future that, step by step, moment by moment, at bat by at bat, brings us closer to God’s perfect reign, where every tribe, language, people, and nation are enfolded into the glorious embrace of perfect love. 

Grace and Peace,

The Right Reverend Craig Loya