Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.


This front page story in the Big O about an awesome act of sportsmanship this last weekend left me a little choked up--

"At the plate, Tucholsky concentrated on ignoring the wise guys. She took strike one. And then the senior did something she had never done before -- even in batting practice. The career .153 hitter smashed the next pitch over the center field fence for an apparent three-run home run.

The exuberant former high school point guard sprinted to first. As she reached the bag, she looked up to watch the ball clear the fence and missed first base. Six feet past the bag, she stopped abruptly to return and touch it. But something gave in her right knee; she collapsed on the base path.

"I was in a lot of pain," she told The Oregonian on Tuesday. "Our first-base coach was telling me I had to crawl back to first base. 'I can't touch you,' she said, 'or you'll be out. I can't help you.' "

Tucholsky, to the horror of teammates and spectators, crawled through the dirt and the pain back to first.

Western coach Pam Knox rushed onto the field and talked to the umpires near the pitcher's mound. The umpires said Knox could place a substitute runner at first. Tucholsky would be credited with a single and two RBIs, but her home run would be erased.

"The umpires said a player cannot be assisted by their team around the bases," Knox said. "But it is her only home run in four years. She is going to kill me if we sub and take it away. But at same time I was concerned for her. I didn't know what to do. . . .

"That is when Mallory stepped in."

Mallory Holtman is the greatest softball player in Central Washington history. Normally when the conference's all-time home run leader steps up to the plate, Pam Knox and other conference coaches grimace.

But on senior day, the first baseman volunteered a simple, selfless solution to her opponents' dilemma: What if the Central Washington players carried Tucholsky around the bases?

The umpires said nothing in the rule book precluded help from the opposition. Holtman asked her teammate junior shortstop and honors program student Liz Wallace of Florence, Mont., to lend a hand. The teammates walked over and picked up Tucholsky and resumed the home-run walk, pausing at each base to allow Tucholsky to touch the bag with her uninjured leg.

"We started laughing when we touched second base," Holtman said. "I said, 'I wonder what this must look like to other people.' "

Holtman got her answer when they arrived at home plate. She looked up and saw the entire Western Oregon team in tears.

"My whole team was crying," Tucholsky said. "Everybody in the stands was crying. My coach was crying. It touched a lot of people."

People like to quote Vince Lombardi's "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing" speech at every opportunity. I've never agreed with that sentiment (neither did Lombardi who insisted he was misquoted.)

These young women at Sunday's softball game exemplified what sports are really about. It's a hell of a lot more than just winning. Among other things it's character. They have it in spades.

11 comments:

Arkonbey said...

Ain't that the coolest?

I wonder what, if anything Frank DeFord will have to say about it.

Don Snabulus said...

After all the politics lately, I'd almost forgotten about the possibility of human decency and kindness.

Western Oregon won the game 4-2 and extinguished Central Washington's playoff hopes.

Kudos to the people involved for reminding us what is REALLY important. Hopefully that kid's knee heals up well.

Thanks Dean for a great article.

Dean Wormer said...

arkonbey-

Does DeFord usually hit that stuff? I know he does sports.

don-

Isn't that a happy story? Makes me proud to live in the NW.

Freida Bee said...

Crap, that made me cry reading it. Beautiful. Thank you for posting it.

Dean Wormer said...

freida-

Isn't is just the neatest story. I like happy news. :)

Randal Graves said...

Here's some even happier news:

"George Bush arrested! Film at 11!"

You didn't say anything about truthful. ;-)

Dr. Zaius said...

What a great story!

Dean Wormer said...

randal-

That would be the happiest news ever. Sigh.

zaius-

I think so too.

Dave The Angry Rhode Islander said...

Geez, I got a little verklempt reading that. And I like to think I'm such a big bad angry brain with bugged out eyeballs.

Liberality said...

Ahh, that was a touching story. Now excuse me as I go blow my nose...

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