Knoxville's Catholic Bishop passionately cheers on the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series
"As a human, I would say I pray that they win. But as a priest and a bishop, I know that God probably has bigger things to deal with. And probably the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston might be praying for the Red Sox," said Bishop Richard Stika.
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - When he's not wearing his church vestments or Roman collar, it's a good bet you'll find the Catholic Bishop of Knoxville wearing a St. Louis cardinals baseball cap.
He's passionate about his team. He's hoping, and perhaps praying just a tiny bit, that their season doesn't end Wednesday night.
His Excellency's favorite baseball team is down 3-2 and facing elimination in the World Series.
"I yell at the TV every once and a while. Not as passionately as in the past. I am a passionate fan, but respectful," said Bishop Richard Stika.
This is not a casual relationship. He has been a St. Louis Cardinals fan for a lifetime, through good and bad.
He was there when the Cards came back to win games 6 and 7 in 2011, already a Bishop by then.
In 1982, studying for the priesthood, he took near drastic measures to attend his first World Series game at Busch Stadium.
"I asked permission of the Rector if I could go to the game. I had these tickets. He said 'Sure, but sneak out the side door because the Cardinal is coming, and we don't want him to think he is skipping out of his session.' I took three other seminarians; we snuck out the side door. As soon as we came out the door, there's the Cardinal and his car. I confessed. I said we're going to the World Series game and the Cardinal said, I'd go too if I were you."
He has connected with the St. Louis Cardinals in ways that few can. Bishop Stika has met players of the past, thrown out a first pitch, and was pastor and good friend to St. Louis baseball legend Stan Musial.
"Growing up in St. Louis, Stan Musial, next to the Trinity, he was St. Louis, and he was beloved because he was a true gentleman. Stan this year would be retired 50 years from baseball but you can go up to an 8-year-old in St. Louis and talk about Stan Musial and they'll know exactly. In St. Louis Babe Ruth would have come in second," the Bishop said.
So Thursday night, His Excellency will be parked in front of his television, watching the Cardinals try to dig out from a 3-2 deficit to Boston.
"As a human, I would say I pray that they win. But as a priest and a bishop, I know that God probably has bigger things to deal with. And probably the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston might be praying for the Red Sox," he said.