“Welcome to the Crystal Cathedral of baseball,” says Pat Richie, chaplain of the San Francisco Giants baseball team. It is 9:00 A.M. on a foggy first Sunday of summer, and the Giants’ chapel is about to begin in a small, dingy room, buried under tons of concrete in the bowels of Candlestick Park. The room has a sofa and a few institutional chairs; the carpet is stained, and the ceiling is hung with plumbing. Richie, a large, easygoing man, laughs about the room. “It has a first-century look,” he says. “Like the catacombs.”

As half-a-dozen Giants straggle in, they are still pulling up pants and tying shoes; when the seats are gone, these young millionaires plop down on the floor. Richie makes announcements, offers an opening prayer, and then introduces Tom Eisenman, a local pastor. He talks earnestly for ten minutes about the courage men need to put up a fight against temptation. “I want to learn to play hurt,” he says, “and come back from injury in the Christian life.” When the meeting ends, the players do not linger. Batting practice begins immediately.

This is Richie’s seventh year as the Giants’ chaplain; he is in his twelfth year as chaplain for the San Francisco 49ers football team. Later, while watching batting practice, he explains that Sunday-morning chapel services are only the visible tip of his ministry. “I see the services as a place to acquaint people with Christianity,” he says. “If a guy comes to chapel, I can call him for a meal or a game of golf.”

The more productive time in his ministry comes in the couples’ Bible studies he organizes for players and their wives, and the wives’ Bible study his wife, Nico, leads. He also helps facilitate ministry for players who are committed Christians. For example, Jeff Brantley, ...

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