Here's one guy you didn't expect to see taking batting practice today: Pope John Paul II. This video is making the rounds of John Paul II (not the guy who retired on Monday, the one before him — or at least the guy who famously impersonated him) in a batting cage during a 1987 trip around California. The Pope swings a bat? Oh yes, The Pope does.
There are many interesting moments in the six-minute video, not the least of which is the babbling batting cage operator telling The Pope he can have 10 more swings like he's Little Joey from down the street. Umm, sir, The Pope hits as long as The Pope wishes to hit.
But this is what I was wondering after watching the Holy BP session: Was Pope John Paul II a better hitter than Michael Jordan?
You'll notice at 4:32 that The Pope really puts a charge into one ("Woah! Is he OK!"). His swing is pretty righteous. He's a lefty, but there's a mention in the video that he can switch-hit.
When you compare that with another holy figure -- His Airness -- I think there's a case to be made that The Pope can handle a bat better. We all remember how unfortunate Jordan's attempt was. (He hit .202 and struck out 114 times in 127 Double-A games). The Pope had Jesus Christ on his side. Jordan only had Nike and Jerry Reinsdorf.
Remember that in this video Pope John Paul II is a spry 67 years old. Who knows how good he was when he was, say, 30 years younger. I bet The Yankees would have tried to sign him. They're devout about nabbing all the most prestigious free agents.
Big League Stew H/N: Deadspin.