An Exceptional Act of Kindness

When charity clashes with a softball rivalry, the real victory is off the scoreboard.
by Reuben Nuxoll, LC | Source:

When you read about baseball, what normally sticks are the great players and their stats and the big rivalries – or perhaps the always-losers, like the famed Chicago Cubs. After all, sports is about the best, forget the rest.

Women’s softball this spring provided an example of Christian charity that deserves to make it into the books. However, when’s the last time you saw a baseball category called “chivalry at play”? When Sara Tucholsky’s team, Western Oregon, played against Mallory Holtman and Central Washington in April, there was room only for what really is the best: heroic virtue.

***

Sara had never hit a home run in her four years of college softball, and when she popped the ball over the fence in the qualifying round of the finals, perhaps it was so exciting that she missed first base. Heading back to tag it, her knee gave out. Yes, simple as that. And the umpires said that no one else could run the bases for her, so a pinch-hitter would have to take her place … at first base. Cancel that home run, her only one, the best she ever did.

Sara’s coach, pondering what to do, heard a voice, “Excuse me, would it be OK if we carried her around and she touched each bag?” It was Mallory speaking, a player from the other team!

She said she thought it was the right thing to do, “one of those things that I hope anyone would do for me.” According to the rules, no one could supposedly touch the runner … except the players active on the field.

Mallory is an excellent player herself and holds most of her team’s scoring records. At that moment her team is in the qualifying rounds and down a game and 2 – possibly 3 – runs. She overlooks her own desire to win, puts aside the adverse situation of the lost first game, steps up without need, and … asks to help the other team add a run to their score.

Woah, wait a minute! What is going on here? The logic of softball is that you try to score for your team, not for the other team. … Well, there is a logic greater than that, and Mallory had it: the logic of human love and kindness, always to do what is best for the other person.

Mallory and a teammate did just that.

***

At the top of the second inning, Western Oregon led 3-0, due to the compassion of Mallory and Central Washington. A few minutes later Western Oregon only led 3-2, but held on to victory at 4-2 and grabbed their place in the next round.

And Mallory and her team? They were out, but success does not always reward virtue. When it’s the right thing to do, that is greater than any win, especially if it is done not out of justice but out of love. Virtue is a win in itself. And charity is the queen of virtues.

As Mallory later said, people “won't talk about who got hits and what happened and who won; they'll talk about that. And it's kind of a nice way to go out, because it shows what our program is about and the kind of people we have.”

-Information taken from an article by Graham Hays on ESPN.com, updated April 28, 2008.



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