From The New York Times: 

The umpires dialed in at about 3 p.m. on a Friday, calling from places like St. Louis and Oakland, Seattle and Cleveland.

It was time to pray.

“God is our father,” Ted Barrett, a major league umpire for over two decades and an ordained Southern Baptist minister, told the men. “He loves to hear from us, and so don’t ever feel like he’s too big or too busy to bring your little problem to him.”

The umpires on the line had endured all manner of turmoil: anger or family troubles, addiction or overwhelming grief, loneliness and the agony of imperfection. Those last two, Barrett knew, were among their vocation’s most familiar menaces, ones that might surface during games that very night or in the hours afterward.

So for about a dozen big league baseball seasons, small groups of umpires have privately convened every week by phone to pray together, searching for the kind of communal solace that is hard to come by when life is spent on the road and under the strain of officiating the national pastime.

“Knowing that there’s a group of guys that get on the call and are all going through the same journey and understand what it’s like to be on this journey and to pray with them, it gives a sense of community,” said David Rackley, who was the left-field umpire for this season’s All-Star Game…

…“Jesus would have been a great umpire because he wasn’t a milquetoast where he would have allowed himself to get run over,” Barrett, who has been the officiant at some umpires’ funerals, said in an interview in Chicago. “You see him standing up to the Pharisees. He would have been able to give it right back on the field.”

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