If your adversary is hungry, give him something to eat.
The decision of the umpires was later found to be in error, but I’m so happy that they got it wrong.
Central Washington University was hosting Western Oregon University in 2008 in the last game of the season. The winner would earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament in Division II woman’s softball.
Western Oregon sent Sara Tucholsky to the plate. With two runners on base she hit a home run – the first one of her career. She was so jubilant that she forgot to step on first base. Realizing her mistake, she spun around so quickly that she tore the ACL in her knee. As she lay writhing in pain, her teammates were helpless. If they touched her, that would constitute assisting a base runner and she would be called out.
After conferring on the rules, an umpire told Western Oregon’s head coach, Pam Knox, that a pinch runner could come in for her, but it would be credited as a single, and her home run would be taken away.
It broke the coach’s heart to erase the only home run of Sara’s career, but she was clearly unable to tag the bases on her own.
At that moment, however, Mallory Holtman, the star player for the opposing team ran up to an umpire and asked, “Would it be okay if we carried her around and she touched each bag?” The ump shrugged and said there was no rule against it.
So, Holtman, and her teammate, Liz Wallace, gingerly picked her up and started walking her around the bases. When they came to a base, they would gently lower her good leg and tap the base with Sara’s foot.
As the three girls rounded the bases, the crowd gave them all a standing ovation.
This caring act for their opponent ended up costing Mallory and Liz’s team the game – ending their hopes of getting into the tournament. But no one seemed to care.
Mallory Holtman viewed Sara Tucholsky as her opponent . . . until she was overcome by compassion for her need.
We are so easily angered by the behavior of our enemies. But what if we focused more on their hurts. Their needs. What if, when we noticed how hungry they were, we gave them some of our food?
The NCAA later said the umpire’s ruling was in error. A substitute could have run the bases and Sara would’ve been awarded a home run.
I’m so glad, however, that the umpire got it wrong. Far more important than a correct ruling was what happened to our hearts when two brave women helped their opponent when she was hurting.
(text copyright 2011 by Marty Kaarre)