The legendary major league baseball Hall of Famer, Henry “Hank” Aaron, once said, “In playing ball, and in life, a person occasionally gets the opportunity to do something great. When that time comes, only two things matter: being prepared to seize the moment and having the courage to take your best swing.”
If that sentiment is accurate – and few would dispute it – then two Little League competitors in a tournament game in Waco, Texas, recently lived up to Aaron’s observation by seizing an opportunity to teach the world how to treat one another in difficult circumstances.
Kaiden “Bubs” Shelton was the young pitcher on the mound for the team from Pearland, Texas, facing off against Isaiah “Zay” Jarvis of Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the regional match that would determine which team would advance to Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the Little League World Series. It was one of those “win or go home” games.
Shelton and Jarvis had just met a couple days before their big game and had become instant friends, despite being on rival teams.
Shelton quickly worked the count up to two strikes and no balls on his new friend, when his next pitch got away from him and hit the helmet-wearing Jarvis in the head. The video is a little unnerving at the beginning, especially for parents to watch. But then a beautiful thing happens that must be seen to be fully appreciated.
What a moment. #LLWS pic.twitter.com/0kH2tem0U6
— Little League (@LittleLeague) August 9, 2022
As Jarvis picks himself up from the dirt and heads off to first base, you’ll notice that he’s not angry at being beaned. And rather than trash-talking the pitcher, or worse, attacking the mound to start a fight – like most “professional” ball players might do – Jarvis notices that Shelton is distraught over the incident. Then he does something highly unusual: He leaves first base and heads to the mound to console Shelton.
When he arrives, Jarvis wraps his arms around a tearful Shelton in a big bearhug, and tells him, “Hey, you’re doing great. Let’s go. You got this.” Shelton’s teammates and coach also come to the mound to surround and support the young hurler.
The fans at the game erupted into a standing ovation at Jarvis’ gesture. As well they should.
It’s hard to view the video without concluding that old-fashioned values like good sportsmanship, compassion and friendship are very much alive in America. And that those values both transcend and transform athletic competitions – and other small moments of daily life – in cities and towns everywhere, just as they did in on that day in Waco.
The video of the “beaning” incident has quickly gone viral. There’s something raw and innocent in it that has struck a nerve in a society where we “adults” always seem to be fighting with each other over one thing or another, convinced that it’s either “us or them.”
But that’s not how the Bible teaches us to treat each other.
Exhibiting tenderheartedness and being quick to forgive (Ephesians 4:32), and “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12) are biblical values that are in short supply these days.
But those two young boys on a hot Texas ballfield have provided a real-life example of how to apply those ideals in our lives.
I think Hank Aaron would have been proud of those two boys. Well done, Bubs and Zay.
Oh, by the way, the Pearland team went on to win the game 9-4 to advance to the Little League World Series in Williamsport. But it may just turn out to be that the most important game of the year has already been played – in Waco.
Photo from Twitter.