Pope Benedict XVI may be in the news lately for his resignation, but did you know his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, was a major league slugger? Well, OK, not really. But he did take batting practice once.
And lucky for you, there were cameras on hand to record the entire thing. The YouTube clip, first uploaded in 2006, summarizes the events as thus, "Footage of Pope John Paul at an indoor batting cage during his 1987 visit to California. This video has just been released by the Vatican."
Though it was obstructed by some jibber-jabber throughout, you can plainly see Pope John Paul II getting his cuts from the left side of the plate. He's even mentioned to have some switch-hitting tendencies.
As you can see from the video, his holiness from Poland isn't too shabby for a then-67-year-old man. His feet stay firmly planted, his hips move all the way through the swing, and he makes contact on just about every ball coming his way. In other words, he's the exact opposite of Alex Rodriguez in the playoffs (I kid).
I do have some slight criticisms, though.
First and foremost, you have to wonder about his handlers allowing him to swing without a helmet. Though obviously nothing happened and he went on to Pope (can that be a verb?) for plenty of more years, safety is always best. Yes, even for you, Mr. Pope, sir.
As for the batting stance, I have to admit, I was expecting a little more from the Pope. No Craig Counsell- or Tony Batista-like hysterics? No Nomar Garciaparra or David Ortiz antics with his batting gloves (he was sporting a pair of gleaming white ones)?
Instead, he has a type of relaxed, nonchalant stance that just makes you know he's making contact. Like he's the coolest guy in the room (which, of course, he was).
Pope John Paul II passed away in 2005, but something tells me he's still taking cuts in the big batting cage in the sky.
(h/t Yahoo! Sports)
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