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Despite the glamour of the World Cup and the excitement of the professional basketball and hockey playoffs, baseball remains America's pastime. It's a game that links generations.
The pinnacle of a pitcher's career is the "perfect game" — when not one batter reaches base. It's a once-in-a-lifetime achievement and immortalizes the pitcher's career. It can also mean financial rewards, if the player has a performance clause in his contract.
Earlier this season, a young pitcher was moments away from achieving a perfect game. On a routine play, a batter from the opposing team was ruled "safe" and awarded a base hit, thus robbing the young pitcher of a perfect game. The umpire, an experienced veteran with impeccable credentials, made a bad call. Replay confirmed the umpire's mistake.
The umpire was devastated. The young pitcher was devastated. The pitcher's manager was devastated. A firestorm of controversy ignited.
And yet the next day, the pitcher, the umpire and the manager stood side by side at home plate in a gesture of reconciliation and forgiveness. The umpire publicly admitted that he'd made a mistake and had taken away a moment of glory for the young pitcher. The young baseball player graciously accepted the apology. The hometown fans — most of them anyway — responded with warm applause for the umpire.
The situation was unfortunate, but the response was instructive. The umpire demonstrated how important it is to admit when you've made a mistake and to apologize to those who've been harmed. In turn, the pitcher and the manager modeled forgiveness. These gentlemen are real-life role models for today's sports fans, young and old.
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June 24, 2010