The St. Louis Cardinals have done away with religion at Busch Stadium after a fan raised hell over Christian symbols on the pitching mound.
Michael Vines, who was watching on TV, noticed what appeared to be a cross and an ichthus — better known as a Jesus fish — etched on the mound next to the cleat scraper and contacted the Riverfront Times’ news blog to express his outrage.
Vines, who describes himself as a lifelong Cardinals supporter, took offense to the religious images in a “place of hallowed ground not just for Christians, but for Cardinal fans of all religions, including none at all.”
“How come nobody’s mentioning this?” he wrote the Riverfront Times. “It’s totally inappropriate.”
Vines also saw a potential conflict of interest for Cardinals owners, who enjoy tax abatements while running both the team and stadium as “civic institutions,” and thus shouldn’t promote any specific religion.
“There may be Christian Cardinals who don’t like it,” Vine, who is Jewish, argued.
Some, like ace Adam Wainwright, don’t seem to mind at all.
“They’ve been there every time for me,” Wainwright told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the symbols. The paper reported that a member of the grounds crew puts the symbols on the mound before most home games and the ichthus is actually a No. 6 in honor of Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musuial, who died in January.
Whatever the images represent, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has ordered that they be removed permanently.
“It’s just not club policy to be putting religious symbols on the playing field or throughout the ballpark,” Mozeliak told the Post-Dispatch. “I didn’t ask for the reason behind it. I just asked for it to stop.”