On May 20, Br. Tito Serrano, O.F.M., associate campus minister, and Fr. Casey Cole, O.F.M., caught a baseball game in Miami, and then on July 30, they'll be in Colorado for a Rockies game. During the two months in between, they'll attend a game at every single Major League Baseball park. The Bleacher Brothers extreme summer road trip isn't just about baseball. To borrow a phrase from another set of brothers in sunglasses, "We're on a mission from God."
Br. Tito and Fr. Casey joined the Franciscan Order at the same time. They attended classes and workshops and were often reminded that St. Francis sent people to town squares to hear his message. Br. Tito and Fr. Casey were often asked to reflect on this question, "Where are the town squares today?"
"Casey sat with that question and really reflected on it. To be honest, I didn't think about it. Later, he told me about this idea to do a ministry at every MLB ballpark, our modern day summer town squares. He asked if I would be interested. COVID put the idea on a pause for a couple years, but we decided to do it this year or it might never happen."
Fr. Cole is a chaplain in Macon, Georgia (he's also achieved a more than modest amount of social media fame. His YouTube channel, Breaking In The Habit, has more than a quarter of a million subscribers). On May 16, Br. Tito flew to Georgia where he met up with Fr. Casey. They rented a pickup truck, set the tripmeter to 0, and drove to Miami for game one of 30.
They'll wear their habits to each game, and they hope to spark curiosity, which will lead to conversation. They'll also speak at churches and schools (and maybe some breweries) in most cities along the way. They've even been asked to throw out the first pitch at a couple parks, include Miami. Which, for Br. Tito, is both exciting but concerning.
"Unfortunately, I fell off my skateboard recently and landed on my throwing shoulder. I'll obviously have my glove with me, and hopefully we can get in some practice."
They packed their truck with more than 1,000 t-shirts to give away across America. The logo was designed by a Siena student. The truck, meanwhile, is outfitted with their gameday schedule (below, left) and a QR code that directs to their website, bleacherbrothers.org.
You can follow their journey on their website, plus through July we will track the Bleacher Brothers along their cross-country adventure as they spread the word of St. Francis. As noted on their website:
"They came up with the idea of spending a summer visiting the homes of America's pastime, inviting people 'home' to the church."
"I'm from Puerto Rico, so baseball is culturally required. All the men in my family play. [Hall of Famer and Puerto Rican] Roberto Clemente has always been a great inspiration in my life. He had this focus to always be in service to others throughout his life."
Br. Tito Serrano
The Bleacher Brothers will split the driving (they both claim to be excellent marathon drivers). They'll mainly stay with pastors or friars, and only occasionally in hotels. They also plan to pick up travel companions during different segments of the trip.