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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

true meekness

"Some glances of real beauty may be seen
in the faces of those who dwell in true meekness."
~ Henry David Thoreau
Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga, left,
smiles as he walks away from first base umpire Jim Joyce, right.

true meekness

The meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
~ Psalms 37:11 (NKJV)

Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him ...
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret ...
~ Psalms 37:5-7 (NKJV)

If not for my son Joshua (age 11 and a Detroit Tigers fan), I'd have likely missed watching one of baseball's finest events unfold; I'd have missed true meekness shining more brightly than pinnacle of achievement ever could.

Sports fans are by now familiar with Armando Galarraga, age 28 pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. Last Wednesday he pitched a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians. A perfect game is so difficult to attain that it has happened a mere 20 times in the history of Major League Baseball.

But Galarraga did not receive credit for a perfect game. On what should have been the game's last play, Galarraga sprinted to cover first base while the first baseman grabbed the Indians' 27th batter's hit. The replay shows that with ball in glove, Gararraga's foot stepped on the bag before the runner's did. It was a clean out. But umpire Jim Joyce declared the runner safe.

The game would not go down in the annals of baseball history as perfect. Galarraga's moment of a lifetime evaporated. Yet he didn't argue. He didn't pout. He didn't lose poise, but calmly went back to the mound with a peaceful smile, ready for his 28th batter of the night.

When later interviewed, he shrugged off Joyce's mistake as just that—a human error. While sports fans slandered the umpire with a variety of epithets, the one man who might be justifiably upset did not complain that he'd been wronged.

After seeing the replay, a distraught Joyce readily admitted he'd made a bad call, visibly shaken. He cursed himself, grief evident for what he'd inadvertently taken from the young pitcher. Galarraga responded by saying that he felt bad for Joyce—and he displayed it with exceptional dignity.

When the two meet at home plate the next day to play another game, Galarraga pauses to shake Joyce's hand before handing him the lineup. While Joyce attempts to focus on the lineup and wipes away tears, Galarraga puts a warm hand on Joyce's shoulder and rubs it briefly. Joyce reciprocates with a friendly cuff to Galarraga's arm, and a new game begins.

Armando Galarraga is both a perfect pitcher and a perfect gentleman. He has earned respect far beyond what he might have received for the perfect game alone. And the world has witnessed one of the finest examples of meekness it might ever hope to see or emulate.

Lord, please be patient with us as we learn to meekly wait for Your perfect purposes for everything You allow in our lives. Alllow us no sense of entitlement. Enable us to return injury with grace, delighting in Your abundance of peace.

The play:

The meeting:

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Copyright 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
Image source, Galarraga & Joyce:


  1. May we all strive to be like this dear man.

  2. Wow. While watching those clips and after reading your thoughts, I just kept thinking slow to anger. Slow to anger. Classy. Such emotion in both of those scenes. Emotion held at bay. Wow.

    This will stay w/ me all day and I'm excited to bring it up with my husband. He'll be so proud I knew about it.
    ~ Wendy

  3. Hi Anne,
    Thanks so much for the sweet comment you left on my blog. It's the book you helped me with (a million thanks, my friend!), though the theme has changed (I'll fill you in next week when we get home from vacation.)

    I loved this particular news story! Had the pitcher pitched a perfect game, it would have made news for a few days. Instead, the pitcher revealed his true character (as did the umpire) and the world will remember this for a loooong time. What a wonderful example in a day when it's desperately needed.


  4. Sometimes your posts are just eerily depicting my feelings at that moment, and this was one of them. May God richly bless you. What a wonderful vessel you are! XOXO

  5. Allow us no sense of entitlement....

    Enable us to return injury with grace....delighting in Your abundance of peace.


  6. Thanks, Anne, for stopping by the blog. It was lovely to "see" you there. You're right; I'm a family gal, and after reading this, I'm thinking that Armando must have had some upbringing to learn such meekness. I don't think we innately know kindness; perhaps at first when life walks with the innocence of our younger years. But then, life happens, and if not carefully guarded and protected our kindness can morph into a warped version of the original.

    It takes good role models in our lives to shape our hearts. I'm thankful that some are taking that assignment seriously. Someone has obviously done that for Armando. Someone has done that for me. I pray, in turn, that I am doing that for my children as well.


  7. Denise ~ I do not know Armando's religious beliefs. I think him likely a man of faith. His example here is indeed worthy of imitation.

    Wendy ~ "Slow to anger" is a fitting synopsis. And if I were to take up watching a sport, I do think baseball a classy game. It is not only not a game without inherent violence, it is played everywhere, by people of all ages.

    Julie ~ I agree that the example of Galarraga (and Joyce) will be remembered far longer than a number in a stat book. They've honored baseball by such example.

    T ~ I trust that this is a sign of the Holy Spirit at work! :D

    Bud ~ That sense of entitlement will be our downfall every time. When it comes right down to it, our sin makes us entitled to nothing, and God's love becomes an even greater gift of grace.

    Elaine ~ It's funny, but I was thinking exactly the same thing about Armando's upbringing in Venezuela. He surely wouldn't display that kind of grace if it hadn't been taught to him from an early age. There is somewhere a parent (parents) who share the honor here.

  8. well...i really liked the latter part of your prayer "enable us to return injury with grace." it's in the "over and over again" situations where i'm really praying for more of His grace. then again....if one has the abundance of His grace, love, and can be done. i agree that it's all too easy to trip up on the entitlement factor. your posts always make me chew a bit...

  9. Hi Anne,

    The night of this incident, I was quite literally nauseous. I identified so closely with Jim Joyce. Who among us has not made a mistake, especially in a moment of snap judgment? To have to pay so visibly for a split-second decision is something we all might have to live with one day. The possibility reminds me of how fragile we are.

    However, as you say, a larger lesson is on display here: the graciousness of meekness and forgiveness. I believe all who saw the game knows that Galarraga had a perfect game, but now he has an added bonus--he's a hero. And Jim Joyce is forgiven.

    Many spiritual layers here, no?

    Have a great day!

  10. Bud ~ Think of "over and over again" as God's way of training us. You do know that practice makes perfect? How would we practice if we did it only once?

    Gwen ~ Your empathy for Joyce makes me smile as well as wince. Hebrews 12:1 speaks of the "great cloud of witnesses," before whom our lives testify for or against our Lord. We think our own mistakes are not witnessed by the entire world. In spiritual realms, I'm not so sure they're not. How I thank God for the mercy which covers all my sins! (And yes! MANY spiritual layers in this incident. Thank you for touching more of them. :D)

  11. Anne,

    It gets the heart pumping to see a person with so much poise and character.


  12. what a testimony of grace and integrity ...

  13. Rusty ~ It truly is inspiring. I still have way too much pride.

    Susan ~ Indeed! I can't help but believe this is a man I'll meet in heaven.

    Duane ~ Glad you caught it! : )


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