Sports-minded onlookers outside St. Elizabeth Church in Wilmington on July 13 might have believed one of the Diocese of Wilmington permanent deacons was lobbing a jab at Bishop William Koenig, the 10th bishop of Wilmington who was ordained and installed shortly after everyone processed into church.
It turns out it was anything but.
Bishop Koenig, a Long island, N.Y., native has played and followed baseball and has said he is a lifelong fan of the New York Mets.
Deacon Charlie Schauber of St. Paul in Delaware City is an avid Phillies fan. The Mets and Phillies are staunch rivals in the National League East Division.
As the procession of bishops, priests and deacons was forming outside the church, it was difficult to miss Schauber’s bright red Phillies cap on top of his head. The procession was gathered outside in the sweltering sun nearly 30 minutes and each person was greeted by Bishop Koenig on their way in.
Schauber said baseball loyalties never were part of his agenda and the bishop greeted him with a smile.
“The bishop said to me ‘Oh, you’re a Phillies fan,’” Schauber said.
“I told him I didn’t do it for that reason. I had recently had a medical procedure and was told to limit exposure to the sun. It was nothing serious, but I had to get (the procedure) done. I didn’t have a lot of choices for hats, so I picked that one.
“I didn’t mean it as an affront to anyone,” Schauber said.
While it did produce some good-natured chuckles, Schauber removed it before he entered church as he had fully intended to do. He did put it back on when Mass concluded and the glaring sun remained.
“It was just protection from the sun,” he said.
The Mets are in first place in the division, three-and-a-half games ahead of the second-place Phillies. The teams meet next for a three-game series beginning Aug. 6 in Philadelphia.