ListeckiHOHGrowing up, I was always involved with sports, be it sandlot softball, Little League baseball, roller hockey or street tag football. It was competition and I loved it. The older boys were always better, stronger and more experienced, but their skills gave me something for which to strive. Additionally, my high school and college coaches also emphasized the importance of team. Since there is no “I” in team, we all had to sacrifice and perform our best in order for the team to succeed.

It is the same when anyone participates in a sport. While playing, that individual represents the sport and his or her school. At times, that person realizes he or she is part of something far greater than just a game. He or she is involved with life and it demands his or her best. Being the best is not just about following the rules of the game, scoring the most runs or defending the goal, but striving to be a person of integrity that makes teammates proud to play with that person and makes opponents respect him or her.

Recently, Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers demonstrated integrity rarely seen in our society. He pitched a perfect game, well, almost. Umpire Jim Joyce missed the call for the last out and, after 26 batters, the very last batter reached first base by mistake.

It was clear to everyone that it was a bad call. Galarraga could have yelled; everyone else did. He could have thrown a tantrum; certainly, the fans wanted to. It was so heartbreaking because a perfect game is an achievement which eludes many of the game’s greatest pitchers.

If a pitcher is fortunate enough to achieve such a feat, his or her name is forever etched into the history of this sport. However, it was not to be for Galarraga. Gracefully, he accepted the bad call, smiled and completed the game.

His action embodied not only the best of baseball, but also the best in human beings. He accepted the apology of the umpire, but everyone knew Galarraga’s moment of perfection was lost forever. A perfect game would have been an athletic achievement and a tribute to his skill. However, his reaction to the umpire’s mistake was virtuous and a tribute to his Creator.

Galarraga’s acceptance and response to an extremely unfair situation gave all of us an example of how to rise above the unfairness of life. What was done to Jesus was also unfair. However, Jesus accepted the will of the Father and the injustice cast upon him because he loved us. Even when it’s not easy, we, too, are called to be examples of how to love one another.