Saturday, May 3, 2008
Perfect home run, perfect game
This is Day 3 of my quest to find 30 perfect moments in 30 days. Today’s perfect moment comes from the world of sports. I know, I know, you might not be interested in sports. But, before you click out of this, this is actually a story that should touch every person, sports fan or not. This is about being a good person.
This moment happened during a women’s softball game in Oregon. The Central Washington University team was taking on Western Oregon University. At stake was a bid to go to the NCAA Division Two playoffs.
It was the second inning when Western Oregon's 5-foot-2-inch right fielder came up to bat. There were two runners on base at the time. Sara Tucholsky's wasn’t known as a power hitter. As a matter of fact, she wasn’t really known as much of a hitter at all.
But, on that day, at that time, everything seemed to come together. The perfect pitch came towards the plate… and she swung the perfect swing. The senior did something she had never done before… she hit the ball over the center field fence for a three run homer.
But then, this is where things got weird. ...
She took off to round the bases… and somehow missed first base. A few feet past the bag she turned around to touch the bag, and her knee gave out. She collapsed to the around in pain. Her coach was telling her that she couldn’t help her back to first, because then she would be out.
So, Sara crawled through the dirt, back to the bag.
Her coach went to talk to the home plate umpires about what to do. The rules state that a player will be called out if she can’t make it around the bases, and her teammates are not allowed to help her around the bases either. They said they could get her a runner to take over at first base, but her home run would not count.
This is when things got really interesting. Mallory Holtman is known as the greatest player to ever take the field at Central Washington. She routinely hits home runs and knows the thrill of running around those bases and hitting home plate. And on this day, Mallory wanted to make sure that Sara knew the thrill of hitting a home run, even if it meant her team could end up losing the game. She went to the umpires and asked if the Central Washington players could help Sara around the bases. The umpires said there was nothing in the rules saying they couldn’t help.
So, Mallory asked another of her teammates, Liz Wallace to help out. They went over to Sara, lifted her between them and started walking from base to base, stopping at each base so Sara could touch it with her toe. When she touched home plates, it was reported that pretty much everyone was crying.
Central Washington ended up losing the game 4 to 2, but there were no losers on this field on this day. This is a story about one perfect moment on one perfect day that will be touching people for years to come.
Yes playing sports is about competing, and anyone who plays competitively wants to win. But we also want to make sure that it’s the best team that wins on that day. It’s about character. On this sunny afternoon, Western Oregon was the better team when it came to the score, but no one can say that Central Washington lost.
Here's a quick video of the home run shot by a parent. And ESPN's interview with the players.