So the first disclaimer here is… I don’t give a hoot about baseball. Good to know dear readers. However, I listen to the radio on the way to work and I heard, incidentally, the wonderful story of the near perfect game. I don’t normally listen to sports news, but this wasn’t really sports news it was sportsmanship news. I had already seen clips of it on the morning news (it was not reserved for the sports segment). Everyone, I think, knows what happened. Armando Gallaraga of the Detroit Tigers was one out away from a historic “perfect game”. I think there have only been 21 in the recorded history of baseball; not many. He pitched, the Cleveland Indians hitter got a bat on it and ran for first. First base umpire Jim Joyce called it out, thus ruining the otherwise perfect game. The players looked at replays and everyone agreed the runner was not safe. But the rules in baseball say that replays are only for questionable home runs. As Matt Lauer put it on the Today Show this morning, if they add more instant replays, the games will be six hours long. The argument over instant replays in baeball, however, is for another day.
Gallaraga was smiling and gracious, even as Bud Selig was spewing in Joyce’s face, understandably angry. Gallarage never lost his cool that I could tell, even when the news clips show him hard pressed and provoked by the journalists to vent. He was a model of good sportsmanship.
Jim Joyce himself watched the replay and quickly admitted, after the game, that he had blown the call. Wow, what a moment in America’s public life, someone rapidly and unqualifiedly taking responsibility for a public and momentous mistake. Joyce then made an apology to Gallaraga. Wow again. The final Wow was Gallaraga publicly and unreservedly accepting the apology.
So for those two, the incident was done. But how rare in our cultural life to see two grown men acting with grace, integrity and rationality. What a wonderful example. Gallaraga had the confidence to know that he was good no matter what, and that was enough for him; how wonderful. Joyce had the integrity to apologize for his mistake; how wonderful. Gallaraga had the grace to accept the apology and move on; how wonderful. Isn’t it too bad that this fabulous example of good sportsmanship will almost certainly be eclipsed at any moment by another anorexic party girl faux-celeb being led away in handcuffs. I don’t know about you, but I know which image I’d like my child to remember.