Baseball And Bible Research

On November 29th, 2011, I was invited to speak to a local chapter of SABR (Society of American Baseball Research), a society established in 1971, which consists of people who have a strong interest in baseball and are dedicated to researching many facets of the game and its history. Many of these “mature” individuals have retired from various distinguished professions, but are joined together due to their love of the game. Some have published many articles and books on the game of baseball. One distinguished author referred to his baseball hobby as “playing in my sandbox!” What can be better than that as you grow older? Such hobbies are not fattening, exercises your mind, energizes your heart and are just plain fun. I hope that my presentation about the “ups” and “downs” of my career did not set the movement back fifty years! They made me an honorary member for one year and gave me a lot of information, publications and materials. I was joined by my wife Nancy and my brother Kerry Don and wife Kara. Their meetings are held in Ranger Stadium in Arlington, Texas. My brother Kerry and wife live in Arlington.

Doing Genuine Research

In surveying the material given to me, I gained some insight into the purpose of their research and noted a number of parallels in the way that I, and other Christians I know, research the Bible. Here are a few quotes from their publication, “The Baseball Research Journal, Vol. 38, Number 1, Summer 2009”:

“ ‘There are no facts, only interpretations,’ wrote Nietzsche. The Society
For American Baseball Research is founded on the principle that he’s
wrong about that. And that’s a fact. We start from the premise that point
of view doesn’t matter. If the first-base umpire calls it fair, so it is. And
that’s what we want to know – what it is, not what it is as you saw it. For decades, armies of volunteer researchers have been laboring quietly, without fanfare, gathering and verifying and the organizing all manner of data and information from official scorebooks, newspaper box scores, court records, you name it. . . .” (page 5)

“In our love of logic and empirical evidence, SABR acts as light that enables us to examine prejudice in the literal sense of that word. Most of us have baseball beliefs that are born of the inevitable and entirely human, and probably necessary, impulse to prejudge.” (page 5)

Many other quotes could be produced, but this is adequate for my purpose here. Their approach is to do genuine research and expose many myths regarding the game of baseball. In my own career, I came across many baseball myths. It does not matter what people think or how they feel. The only thing that matters is facts from official sources. This is exactly my approach to the Bible. In order to discover what the Bible actually teaches, it is necessary to do solid research. The principles in discovering baseball truths are exactly the same as the discovering the truths of the Bible. I have often heard people say, “Oh, it is just a matter of interpretation, and we all interpret the Bible differently.” Or as some contend, “Faith is purely a matter of subjective thinking, it is not based upon any real evidence. Belief is based upon how we feel about something.” Even though such a concept is utterly unbiblical, such is often believed and repeated. Yes, and we all have to guard against prejudice, which means to prejudge a matter without adequate proof. But this requires real work and Bible study, examining all of the facts and drawing conclusions from the data. I believe in passionate faith, but our passion or emotions must be based upon what is true and not what we think is true. Actual facts, properly applied, trump everything else.

I have often said that the principles of Biblical authority and interpretation are no different that in any other field or profession. First you must know the source of authority and then examine the evidence in the light of that authority. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Genuine Biblical research appears to be laborious and tedious. You have to be willing to examine a lot of evidence. But if it is a labor of love, you do not mind. Your only interest is to find the truth. Notice how the book of Psalms starts out: Psalm 1:1-6: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.” Many believers in the Bible started out as critics desiring only to prove the Bible wrong, but came away from this process as converts. Such is the power of truth.

Restoring Christianity The
Same as Restoring Baseball

For example, if the game of baseball were to be removed from the face of the earth and there were no baseball players or baseball teams. Say that a thousand years have passed with no baseball. Could the game be restored? Yes, the game could positively be restored as long as we have the official documents and rule book. In the same way, Christianity does not depend upon having a direct living connection all the way back to Christ. Even in the days of the apostles, people and churches were perverting the word of God and falling away from the truth. These could all claim a direct connection to Christ and especially to the apostles, but that did not make it so. Do just a little research and you will discover this. If you have the Bible, the source of authority, it can be reproduced in any place and in any age. Jesus taught that the “seed” of the kingdom is “the word of God.” When that seed is planted, it produces the same kind of plant every time (see Matt. 13:19-23). We do not depend on popular myths or some kind of living authority or linage reaching all the way back to the apostles. We have the word of God which abides forever. When a man speaks, his words can be examined in the light of genuine authority. Paul wrote: “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11a).

Well, some bright guy says, “O.K. you make a good point, but how do we know that the word of God is true and has authority?” That is a fine question and a good point. Again, we use the brains that God gave us and examine the evidence. Biblical evidence is a legitimate field of research. Even Jesus Christ did not expect people to believe in Him based simply on his own testimony (see John 5:31-47). This is why He produced evidence upon evidence for His claims. It is certainly proper to ask for proof that the Bible is the word of God or that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. We do a great disservice to the cause of Christ when we say that faith is blind and requires no evidence. Just because we perceive something to be true does not make it so. Prejudice can also work in the minds of atheists who often claim to operate strictly on the basis of logic and reason, but become very illogical when pressed to absurd conclusions by their own logic. Have you listened to some good debates lately involving Bible believers and atheists – I have. I love to have genuine conversations with people who simply want to know the truth and demand creditable evidence. They are my kind of people.

Controversy Is Part of Life

I noticed that SABR is not afraid to tackle controversial issues. For example, they deal with the subject of racism in baseball – the exclusion of black players and the facts about integration in baseball. They document with names, places and dates. They tackle head on the effects of “steroid use” on the game of baseball. These questions require impartial analysis and research. Who has the superior approach to baseball, players of the Dominican Republic or those of American origin? Who is really the best all-time fielder among pitchers? Yep, they research anything that is of interest to them.

Likewise, anyone who has made a careful study of the Bible knows that the early Christians were surrounded by controversy. The claims of Christianity were grounded upon the historical facts of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but such claims were strongly opposed by established Judaism as well as pagan Romanism. Christianity spread only because the disciples were willing to engage in controversy to expose the religious myths of their day. They remained faithful to Jesus Christ even to the point of dying for the faith (See Rev. 12:11). These truths have been documented over and over. Jesus pointed out the difference between real seekers and those who flat do not want the truth: “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” Peter, the one who had earlier denied Jesus Christ, bravely told the Jewish leaders: “He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:11-12).

Stephen, also was willing to stand up and challenge those who were denying the facts of the gospel. “But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. Then they secretly induced men to say, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God. And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came up to him and dragged him away and brought him before the Council” (Acts 6:9-12). Unable to compete with Stephen on the basis of reason and logic, these opponents resorted to unprincipled methods and use of force. This resulted in Stephen being stoned to death, but it did not slow down the movement.

Some unwisely think that the subjects of religion and politics should be avoided at all costs, but nothing affects our lives more than learning the truth about those subjects. Now, I have no problem with those who have taken up baseball as a hobby, but compared to the great issues of life, this is a “sand box” issue – a lot of fun but not important in the overall scheme of things. Paul wrote: “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8). Jesus said: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Either the above statement is true or it is false, but in either case it must not be ignored. John later wrote: “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30).

Don’t Be A Jerk In Controversy

Even matters of great importance require tact and possessing the proper attitude toward others. Paul wrote: “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Col. 4:6). And Peter agreed with Paul by writing: “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Although I am often involved in controversial issues, and have to put up with slander and opposition, I entertain no bitterness toward any person, mainly because I am also fallible and have made many mistakes. The passage that helps me to keep a level head is what the apostle Paul wrote to Titus: “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:1-7).

The main point is this: are you willing to do the research or do you just believe everything that you are told by so called experts without questioning their conclusions? Is your religion grounded in tradition and myths, or is it grounded in the solid truth? In closing, it is important to make the point that some members of SABR don’t give a hoot about Christianity, but still I was impressed with these parallels and I trust that none are offended by my doing this.

--- Lindy McDaniel
January, 2012

The photo at the beginning of this article is that of an open Bible at my very old roll top desk where I answer my fan mail. This desk is over 100 years old. Anyone who wants my monthly articles in advance attached to E-mail may contact me at 1095 Meadow Hill Drive, Lavon, Texas 75166 or E-mail me at and I will place you on the list. Also, baseball fans might be interested in a new website of my baseball career in photos and text developed by my son, Joey. You can access this by going to . My regular website is Thanks and have a happy new year! LM

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