Baseball in Alcoholics Anonymous

By Christine. R

Our Big Book describes us as “enthusiasts.” Apparently one big enthusiasm we enjoy extends into the game of baseball. Here’s the lineup of baseball references: 

When all our score cards read “zero,” and we saw that one more strike would put us out of the game forever, we had to look for our lost faith1.      

We began to get over the idea that the Higher Power was a sort of Bush-league pinch hitter, to be called upon only in an emergency2.  

Here is a baseball term to toss your way: To balk. Balking is an illegal move. An occurrence in which the pitcher stops suddenly or makes a move after starting to throw a pitch, to deceive a base runner. 

  • At some of these we balked3.  
  • At Step 6, many of us balked4.  
  • Instincts on rampage balk at investigations5.

So when we “balk,” we perform an illegal move. We go the wrong way. We stop balking when we get honest with ourselves and concede to this innermost being, “I’ve got a problem with alcohol.” Once we tell the truth, we can’t be spectators in the grandstands. It’s time to move off the bleachers, come down and play ball. 

Before the call up to the Program, my play book had eroded into a ninth inning with two strikeouts and no pinch hitter.  

No home runs – only forced outs.  

The short-stop was the liquor store.

Bases were loaded and so was I.

No one rooting in the stands.  

A screwball who didn’t know how to be a team player, living life in the backfield.

Ground-rules – another baseball term meaning rules of the game. Or in this case, the game of life and how to play it. A working knowledge of the principles of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions becomes the ground rules with a working game plan for us to live a well-grounded life.

Similar to baseball, we have many unwritten rules in Alcoholics Anonymous – such as find yourself a sponsor or don’t date in the first year. The funny thing about unwritten rules is people abide by them almost as much as the formal ones. Especially alcoholics who don’t like to be told what to do. We don’t do rules, but we do take suggestions! 

Unity in Baseball and A.A. Throughout history, groups wishing to unify themselves find a way through a common purpose or goal. Professional baseball players are unified as a team for the dual purpose of playing baseball and to win. So what, as in baseball, what in A.A. unifies us? What is our common purpose, or goal?  

The solution lies in our 12th Step, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps….” Our solution is spiritual. An awakening, a turning toward a Higher Power because no human power could call us out. Our work in AA. takes us to the home plate.  Our “Welcome Home” signs suggest we are out of the strike zone.

As baseball players continually practice their game, so we continually practice working the Steps to catch those curve balls life lobs our way every now and then.

The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us. The tremendous fact for every one of us is we have discovered a common solution6.  A common solution to our common problem unifies us. The problem brings forth the solution. The wound becomes the gift. Like the phoenix rising, we arise to an incredible life.

My latest 12 Step includes working with a sponsee who describes the Higher Power as a “great big catcher’s mitt.”  “God catches me in that mitt on a sea of troubles, and I know He’s got my back. I’m in a place ‘safe and protected.’”  Having played with a lot of baseball mitts, I can’t think of anything so spongy, strong and safe as a catcher’s mitt. Truly an Upper Decker Higher Power. And a homerun with me.


  1.  12 x 12 Page 29. ↩︎
  2. 12x 12 Page 75 ↩︎
  3. BB Page 58 ↩︎
  4. 12 x 12 Page 108 ↩︎
  5. 12 x 12 Page 44 ↩︎
  6. There Is A Solution, p.17 ↩︎
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