Deck Review: The Baseball Tarot

As I sat at my dining room table today, munching on a “party cake” flavored Peep (yes, it’s pretty much as disgusting as it sounds), and sipping on a steaming mug of oolong tea, my eye wandered over to my divination shelf. I’m not sure why the Baseball Tarot called my name today (maybe because baseball fans are gearing up for the season?), but I decided to go with it! This is a deck I never use, but I like it. It cost me less than a dollar online about a year ago, and at the time I figured that I couldn’t go wrong at that price, so I pulled out my wallet and sent an e-penny through cyberspace. A couple of weeks later (it got lost in the mail) it finally arrived on my doorstep, the cards still wrapped in their cellophane from 1999.

The Baseball Tarot: Workman Publishing, 1999

The Baseball Tarot, by Mark Lerner and Laura Philips, would obviously be an excellent fit for a baseball fan – not even just a passing admirer of the sport, but someone who truly adores the game, and perhaps also happens to enjoy Tarot. Like most decks that feature a theme, most of the cards depict images or code words (like “Pick Off” or “Take”) that the lay-person may not understand, or immediately associate with Tarot archetypes. Nevertheless, if you already understand the structure of a Tarot deck, you won’t have any major issues. It would be a fun deck for a Tarot enthusiast who wants to learn more about baseball, and if you “get” the deck as a reader, it could also be fun to use to read for baseball fans.

Five of Bats (Wands) “Rhubarb”
Five of Balls (Swords) “Curve Ball”

Or, if you’re like me, you might just never use the deck, but keep it anyway because it’s awesome. A couple of miscellaneous-yet-important notes about the cards to get out of the way first: the suits are designated in a non-traditional way, naturally: Bats = Wands, Balls = Swords, Mitts = Cups, Bases = Pentacles; and the backs are not entirely reversible, but designed in such a way that it’s not too distracting.

Courts: Eleven of Mitts (Page of Cups) MVP of Balls (King of Swords)

Coach of Bats (Queen of Wands)

It’s worth mentioning that the Court cards have been treated in an interesting manner: Pages and Knights have been replaced with cards Eleven and Twelve of each suit (though the energy of each is in line with the traditional meaning). Queens are now Coaches, and Kings are MVPs (Most Valuable Players), but gender is interchanged here, so there are both men and women occupying these roles. I like that the focus in the imagery is not only based on Major League baseball; community and Little League baseball is also represented, so there is a holistic feel. And not only are women and girls represented in the deck, but players of various ethnic backgrounds are featured as well; I appreciate the inclusiveness that the deck creators made a point to embrace – after all, baseball is for everyone! And hey, when I was 11 years old I was the only girl on an otherwise all-boys baseball team! (I was number 8, which thereafter became my lucky number) ;-).

V. The Manager (Hierophant) and IX. Reflection (Hermit)

Cards aside, the 324-page book is one of the best accompanying manuals I’ve ever read because not only is it well written, it’s very thorough. The authors start off by welcoming both new and experienced readers, and discussing the endless ways that the cards can be used. They feature a variety of spreads, including a 12-card layout called “The Diamond,” fashioned after a baseball field. There is also a long list of spread positions provided, and readers are encouraged to create their own custom spreads to suit their own purposes, which I think is wonderful. The authors go on to explore each and every card in this 78-card deck, starting with the Majors and finishing with the Minors. For the Major Arcana, there are keywords as well as detailed narrative that make the connections between the baseball symbol and the Tarot archetype very clear. For the Minors they break down each card into a general meaning, and seven interpretations depending on how it manifests in your spread: “Ahead of the Count” (upright); “Behind in the Count” (reversed); “Player” (a person); “Signal” (advice); “Play” (actions); “Stuff” (feelings or mindsets); and “In the Ballpark” (questions that the reader might ask herself to explore the card’s deeper relationship to a particular situation).

XVI. Whole New Ball Game (Tower)

Despite the abundance of “people in baseball uniforms,” the deck is perfectly readable, and while I don’t use it with any frequency, I value it highly for all of the reasons mentioned in this post. The book alone is a goldmine that is worth owning for any Tarot reader, no matter what their deck of choice. And hey, if you happen to love baseball, it’s just a plus!