Dr. Wayne Baker is traveling and welcomes back popular OurValues guest columnist Terry Gallagher.
Ahhh, the perfect game!
One of the rarest feats in all of sports. For rookies out there, a perfect game means, “The pitcher cannot allow any hits, walks, hit batsmen, or any opposing player to reach base safely for any other reason: in short, ‘27 up, 27 down’,” according to Wikipedia.
In the more than 390,000 major league baseball games that have been played so far, there have been only 22 perfect games, two so far this season. The Wikipedia entry points out that more humans have orbited the moon. Throwing a perfect game guarantees a pitcher a place in baseball history.
But many fans, especially those in Detroit, have a stronger memory of a perfect game that didn’t happen. On June 2, 2010, Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga retired 26 straight batters, one out away from a perfect game, before first base umpire Jim Joyce blew a call, saying that a Cleveland Indians batter was safe on a ground ball.
Everybody in the ball park, and thousands more watching at home, knew that Joyce was wrong, that the runner should have been called out. The game ended anticlimactically one out later, a win for the Tigers but a bitter pill for Galarraga.
But it was what happened next that elevated the game from the extraordinary to the miraculous. As soon as he saw the tape after the game and realized his mistake, Joyce immediately sought out Galarraga and apologized to him.
And Galarraga? He forgave Joyce, saying, “Nobody’s perfect.” The sportsmanship they showed drew admiration all across the country, from fans and non-fans alike.
How many of us would respond the same way, cheated out of our shot at the record books?
How many of us, suffering from another person’s mistake, would respond as Galarraga did, and say “Nobody’s perfect”?
That’s more-than-perfect, isn’t it?
Come on, be honest: Could you have handled it that way?
Can you think of other memorable examples of civility in baseball?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.