Every summer as a child, and even into my not-so-friendly teen years, my father and uncle would load all the kids into the car and drive us up to Cooperstown for induction weekend at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. We looked at pictures and shook the hands of the greats- men who had defied the odds, done what no man had done before, and inspired our nation. But we also talked about men who had made mistakes- those who had disgraced themselves, ruined their careers, and disappointed countless numbers of fans. Those times spent talking baseball with my family shaped many of my beliefs about hard work, loyalty, and pride - virtues I strive to carry every day.
Yesterday, Major League Baseball umpire Jim Joyce made a mistake. He called Cleveland Indian's player Jason Donald safe when he was clearly out. Not only did he make an error on a call and embarrass himself on national television, he cost Detroit Tigers' pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game, a major feat in baseball.
The story doesn't end here. This is where the story begins.
What transpired next between Joyce and Galarraga should be the topic of conversation in every classroom and at every dinner table tonight. Joyce not only admitted he made a mistake but he apologized directly to Galarraga and hugged him in tears. The story gets better. Galarraga accepted his apology and went on to say "He probably feels more bad than me. Nobody's perfect. Everybody's human."
Teachers and parents - in class today and at home tonight, talk about how sometimes things don't go your way and it's better to act gracefully, as Galarraga did, than to throw a temper tantrum. Talk about how sometimes you make mistakes and it's better to apologize directly to the person you wronged, as Joyce did, than to find excuses for what you did. Talk about how when someone has wronged you, looking them in the eye, shaking their hand, and saying "I understand" makes you a winner, even if the W didn't wind up in your column.
Jennifer Cerbasi teaches at a public school for children on the autism spectrum in New Jersey. As a coordinator of Applied Behavioral Analysis programs in the home, she works with parents to create and implement behavioral plans for their children in an environment that fosters both academic and social growth. In addition to her work both in the classroom and at home, she is also a member of the National Association of Special Education Teachers and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.