"One of the practices of patience I hope you'll want to develop is called baseball. Baseball is America's greatest gift to civilization. It is a slow game of failure. If you win half the time, that's considered very good. Not only that, but a game takes nine innings, and the season is very long. During a game it often seems that little is happening. Of course, this is true only for those who don't understand the game. It takes extended training in patience to be a baseball fan because you must acquire the habits that allow you to see how compelling and beautiful this game of peace is. But I hope that you'll want to do more than learn to watch baseball. I hope you'll want to play baseball. Learning to catch and hit is very hard, but having learned to do both will make you happy.
"That baseball is the great American sport indicates that there is hope even for America. Americans pride themselves on speed, but speed is often just another name for violence. And as I suggested in some of my earlier letters to you, America is a very violent country. That we are so has everything to do with our impatience. But we do have baseball as an alternative to war. In one of my favorite novels, The Brothers K, David James Duncan agrees with me:
" 'I cherish a theory I once heard propounded by G. Q. Durham that professional baseball is inherently antiwar. The most overlooked cause of war, his theory runs, is that it is so damned interesting. It takes hard effort, skill, love and a little luck to make times of peace consistently interesting. About all it takes to make war interesting is a life. The appeal of trying to kill others without being killed yourself is that it brings suspense, terror, honor, disgrace, rage, tragedy, treachery and occasionally even heroism within range of guys who, in times of peace, might lead lives of unmitigated blandness. But baseball is one activity that is able to generate suspense and excitement on a national scale, just like war. And baseball can only be played in peace. Hence G. Q.'s thesis that pro ballplayers — little as some of them want to hear it — are basically a bunch of unusually well-co-ordinated guys working hard and artfully to prevent wars, by making peace more interesting.'
"Your father may well try to convince you that some game called cricket is actually more a game of peace than baseball, but you'll discover that baseball is far more compelling. At the very least, I promise to take you to ball games in order for you to learn from baseball the habits of peace. Which is but a reminder that the patience of nonviolence is not an ideal, but rather lies at the heart of the practices and habits that sustain our everyday life. As I've suggested, our very bodies were given to us so that we might learn to be patient."