Growing up in Cincinnati, I was all about the Reds baseball team. I knew the line-up, attended games, and had a totally AWESOME Cincinnati Reds baseball card collection. I also had a schoolgirl crush on Johnny Bench, but that’s besides the point.
I have absolutely no idea whatever happened to my beloved Reds Baseball trading cards. Which is shocking considering I kept nearly everything from my youth. For example, my girls still play with my old Barbies. And would still play with dreamy Malibu Ken if he hadn’t been beheaded during a sibling altercation.
Anyhoo. As a kid, I loved the game of baseball. But as I grew older, I became increasingly more disenchanted with the unsportsmanlike behavior exhibited by both players and fans alike. This seemed to be a rather universal phenomenon in nearly every sport. Even extending to non-pro and neighborhood fields alike. With parents even getting in on the unbecoming action.
And I don’t even have to go into all the players that children everywhere put on a pedestal, only to realize that their hero is only human, and falls victim to the same weaknesses that everyone faces when given too much, too soon.
Sadly, I no longer follow any sports team. At all.
But as a self professed news junkie, a sports related story caught my eye. I was reading this morning about the Indians-Tigers game on Wednesday night. The Detroit Tiger’s pitcher, Armando Galarraga was within seconds of pitching a perfect game. But the first-base umpire, a 20 year veteran, robbed him of that distinction when he called the Cleveland Indian’s player, Jason Donald, safe with two outs in the ninth inning.
And everyone could clearly see that the player should have been called out. Except for the 1st base ump, Jim Joyce.
And while news accounts were heaping an extra helping of scorn upon the Umpire who called the play erroneously, something amazing happened.
I went on to read about how this umpire, after watching the replay in the umpire’s room, went to the Tigers locker room, and in tears, apologized to the pitcher for missing the call.
Then on Thursday, before the players took the field prior to the game, the young pitcher presented the lineup card to the emotional umpire, and shook his hand.
Jim Joyce made a bad call. But instead of placing blame on everyone and everything else, he accepted his error and with great remorse over his mistake, asked Galarraga to accept his apology. And the player, Armando Galarraga, immediately forgave him.
In Galarraga’s own words, “I say many times: Nobody’s perfect. Everybody makes a mistake. I’m sure he don’t want to make that call. You see that guy last night, he feels really bad. He don’t even change. The other umpires shower, eat. He was sitting in the seat (and saying), ‘I’m so sorry.'”
I believe that we can all learn a valuable lesson in sportsmanship from those two gentlemen.