Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/474

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Cardinal Gibbons, Bishop Curtis, of Wilmington, Del., the faculty of the college and a number of visiting Catholic priests from Washington and Baltimore, they gave an exhibition of professional ball playing. The feature of the occasion was the comments on the game made by the Cardinal at the dinner given to the players in the college refectory, of which the following paragraphs are worthy of special note as being a valuable endorsement of the merits of professional Base Ball as exhibited by the most expert exemplars of the game known to the National League in 1896. The Cardinal said:

"I am not what you might call a crank, but I am surrounded (referring to a number of clergy seated at the same table with him) by several excellent critics of the game, some of them even being well enough versed in the pastime to lay claim to the title of authorities. From them I have learned the merits of Baltimore's Base Ball players, and, without hesitation, say that these young men, who have obtained such prominence in their chosen profession, are worthy of the praise bestowed upon them, and both the State and city can well afford to be as proud of their achievements as they themselves no doubt are.

"Let me say," he continued, "that I favor Base Ball as an amusement for the greatest pleasure-loving people in the world. It is necessary that there should be popular amusements, and in consequence it is wise that the most generally patronized of these amusements should be innocent, since, were the opposite the case, the opportunity of committing sins of greater or less degree would be too openly set before the public. Base Ball is a clean sport. It is an innocent amusement. Never have I heard that the games were being used as vehicles for gambling, the most insidious of vices, and this one fact alone raises it above the level of the average sporting event. It is a healthy sport, and since the people of the country generally demand some sporting event for their amusement, I would single this out as the one best to be patronized, and heartily approve of it as a popular pastime."

The Cardinal's words were listened to with the closest attention by the players and the clergymen, who had remained in the room after the body of students had filed