The St. Louis Cardinals is a Major League Baseball team whose mascot refers to birds, and not cardinals in the world of Christianity.
That has become extra clear now that the team is making sure Christian images are no longer etched into the pitcher’s mound at Busch Stadium.
This season, the grounds crew at the stadium had apparently been drawing a Christian cross on the mound, along with the No. 6, a tribute to the late baseball legend Stan Musial.
But as of Friday night, the symbols have been ordered removed by team management.
“Once we learned of it, I did contact the grounds crew and just asked that they don’t,” said general manager John Mozeliak, who indicated he first found out about the images from a report and photo in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“It’s just not club policy to be putting religious symbols on the playing field or throughout the ballpark. I didn’t ask for the reason behind it. I just asked for it to stop.”
Mozeliak told the paper he had been in touch with Major League Baseball about the matter after the story came to light, but he said the club already had made its decision to stop adding that particular artwork to the mound.
“If you want to stencil, “Stl,” or something like that, that’s fine,” said Mozeliak, “but that’s not something we’ve asked anyone to do.”
The issue of the cross on the mound has sparked plenty of discussion in the Midwest recently.
Bill McClellan, a sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch, wrote a commentary expressing his personal uneasiness with the cross, although he had little problem with the No. 6 display.
“The tribute to Musial seems harmless. Not so the cross. Does religion need to be that prominent in a baseball game? I’m not pretending it’s a big deal. But still, I have an uneasy feeling about a cross etched on the mound.”
There have been plenty of comments among fans on both sides of the issue:
- “The Cardinals’ organization does a great job of marketing new caps and new jerseys, which then can be sold to fans. Perhaps they could change their Sunday hat to be similar to the big hat the ‘cardinals’ wear at the Vatican. I do wonder if and when current Padre and former Cardinal Jason Marquis, who is Jewish, pitches at Busch, will they put the Star of David on the mound? (Michael Szerzinski, St. Louis)
- “I believe Stan was smiling when he saw the cross next to his number in a public realm. Putting on display the part of his private life that made him the great icon and ambassador of the game was an outstanding idea which should be commended. But give to Caesar what is his and let the those threatened by Christ’s love and forgiveness of sins run to their politically correct lawyers and media buddies to hide their shame and embarrassment of their profane and meaningless lives.” (Craig Heisserer, Texas Christian University)
- “I am not a religious zealot, but I believe there is no harm in keeping Christianity in our lives as much as possible. Did Mo (Mozeliak) make the right decision … possibly but I don’t think fans would have stayed away if the cross had remained. Bravo to the groundskeeper who came up with the idea. (Robert Jakubeck, St. Louis)
- “I have seen Cardinal players make the sign of the cross when getting ready to bat. Should we ban that also? How about players wearing chains around their neck with a cross? Who really cares?” (Joe Rosebeck, Yorkville, Ill.)
- “Funny how up in arms someone can get over something they didn’t know existed a week ago. … Someone can hardly claim that attending a game was a ‘religious experience’ from a fan’s perspective when they didn’t even know the cross existed.” (Christopher Rhoads, Southern Illinois University)
- “How about a rainbow or a unicorn? I don’t care what’s etched on the mound as long it’s not something that represents any political party.” (Tom Wyatt-Shoshone, Dardenne Prairie, Mo.)