John Wooden was so well known for his leadership role as a basketball coach and player that not everyone knew he had also lettered in varsity baseball his freshman year in college. He later coached baseball and his love of the game continued throughout his life.
With his keen sense of moral principles, Coach Wooden would have been proud of the behavior recently exhibited by the Detroit Tiger’s pitcher Armando Galarraga and the umpire, Jim Joyce, who prevented Galarraga from being credited with a perfect game. When umpire Joyce incorrectly called the runner to first base “safe,” Galarraga accepted the call stoically, although if correctly called an “out,” it would have earned him a rare perfect game in the record books.
When Joyce realized his mistake, he took responsibility for it and immediately went to apologize to Galarraga, who accepted his apology with dignity and grace. The following day, both men treated each other with respect and reflected the high ideals of good sportsmanship.
Columnist Peggy Noonan wrote in the Wall Street Journal about lessons for our children that were abundant in the interchange between Galarraga and Joyce – “that a victim of injustice can react with compassion, and a person who makes a mistake can admit and declare it.”
It may not have been an official perfect game, but these two men were the perfect role models for our children about what sports figures can teach our children – and us – about civility, honesty and good behavior.
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