The Knights of Columbus are continuing their celebration of the fraternal service order’s links to the great American pastime, baseball. Last year, the Blessed Michael McGiveny Pilgrimage Center launched an online exhibit brimming with historical photos and factoids, as well as an excellent webcast by Andrew Fowler. Now, Fowler is back with a third webinar installment, to be released on July 15.
Andrew Fowler is the perfect curator for this excellent discussion on the history of baseball and the Knights. This well-spoken Knight and baseball aficionado has a seemingly endless wealth of baseball trivia at his fingertips, and he keeps the viewers attention with fascinating anecdotes on early baseball antics. His obvious love of the game and the Knights of Columbus are the driving force behind the webinar and his enthusiasm for both are sure to rub off on viewers.
The Knights of Columbus webinar is a four-part series that explores how baseball was shaped by the Knights of Columbus. Many of the baseball greats, including Babe Ruth, were Knights themselves, and they brought their faith to the game as naturally as they would a glove or a bat. Baseball, to some extent, became a vehicle for the Knights to spread their mission, and the mission in turn helped launch baseball into the heights of popularity.
In true baseball fanatic form, the webinar releases are referred to as bases. The first base, “Knights of Columbus: An American Story,” was released on October 1, 2021. This chapter looked at the early days of the sport, when unions put together scrappy amateur teams that played for nothing but the love of the game.
The Knights were influential to the sport in this period, making teams of their own to compete against the unions. In those days, anti-Catholic sentiment was high in the nation, and Catholics were often ostracized and forced to take the most dangerous jobs. These early competitions on the diamond helped to normalize Catholics in the culture and bring them into the fold.
In the second base webinar, “Knights in the Fall Classic,” Fowler brings the focus to the years right before and after the establishment of the MLB. Viewers will learn about the fierce rivalry between the National and American leagues before they were united. Fowler takes us through the creation of the World Series and explains how the Knights’ contributions helped cement it as a mainstay of American culture.
On July 15, the Knights will release Fowler’s third installment, which comes right before the All=Star Game on July 19. While we don’t know what great baseball stories await us, its proximity to the All=Star Game suggests that he may enlighten viewers as to which all stars were Knights of Columbus.
The “KofC and Baseball: An American Story” exhibition looks at the famous legends of the sport, while also examining the unifying dimensions of the game. Baseball has a way of bringing people together, be it in a professional stadium or a church picnic pick-up game. Even today, baseball continues to serve as a path toward spiritual bonds and friendship, values attributed to Fr. McGivney, who founded the fraternal organization on the principles of charity and unity.
Their exhibit includes an array of historical photos and documents from the early days of baseball. We’re talking black-and-white team pictures where everyone is sporting a mustache and wearing uniforms that still featured belts. In one photo from 1858, one dapper gentleman is even in a top hat!
Whether you’re a baseball fan, a Knight of Columbus, or a history buff, there’s something for everybody in the Knights of Columbus baseball connection. The first webinar can be viewed above, but be sure to visit their exhibition page online to watch Andrew Fowler’s previous webinar installments, and check out their photo exhibit before the third webinar drops on July 15.