"St. Francis didn't necessarily go to churches; he went to the city streets to preach where people were, and he preached a language they could understand." - Fr. Casey Cole
The Bleacher Brothers – Fr. Casey Cole and Br. Tito Serrano, associate campus minister – recently completed their 17,000 mile, 11-week tour of all 30 Major League Baseball parks. They spread the Franciscan message "where people are" all the way to their final goodbye in the Denver airport.
Near the end of their long and winding adventure, the Bleacher Brothers made it to Phoenix, AZ, Br. Tito's hometown (one of them). Their trip was about connecting with strangers through baseball, but Br. Tito also found a moment to connect with his past.
"Being a military brat means that I’ve had many homes and each one is special. I went to high school in Phoenix and seeing some of my old teachers and coaches reminds me of all the people who have helped me get to where I am.
It’s hard going home after so long though. So many things have changed, including myself. The baseball stadium is the same but some of the traditions have changed. It makes me sad to see some of what’s lost, but that’s life. Nothing is permanent, in life as in baseball. We’re given a finite amount of time and all we can do is decide how we’re going to play the game. Change is one of the few constants in life, and some changes are harder than others. We can’t control what changes, but we can control how we respond to them."
The Bleacher Brothers caught a game in all 30 MLB parks, beginning in Miami on May 20 and ending in Colorado on July 30. They also visited the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the field of dreams from Field of Dreams, a ballpark from the movie A League of Their Own, the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, and so many more landmarks and hallmarks of America's past time.
They also spoke in dozens of schools and churches, threw out first pitches, and visited with fans well past the final out in ballparks across America.
After nearly three months, 17,000 miles and nearly as many ballpark hot dogs, the Franciscan friars and close friends said their goodbye in the Denver airport. It got emotional.