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On seriously owning your mistakes

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

From The Week:

[Jim] Joyce, a veteran major league baseball umpire, last week mistakenly called a runner safe on a close play at first base on what should have been the final out, therefore costing Detroit Tigers hurler Armando Galarraga a perfect game.

Over 135 season and tens of thousands of major league games, only 20 times has a pitcher retired 27 straight batters without a walk, a hit, or an error. Joyce’s blown call denying Galarraga that 27th out, therefore, caused a national uproar.

To his credit, Joyce freely admitted after viewing the videotape that he should have called the runner out, and sought out the 28-year-old Galarraga to apologize. Clearly shaken, Joyce told reporters, “I just cost the kid a perfect game. It was the most important call of my life.” Galarraga hugged Joyce and told him to forget it. “Everybody’s human,” he said.

I was so moved by this that I cried. Mistakes are essential to learning, and we need to make it safe for kids to make mistakes so that they can learn. But we live in a world where it is so rare for anyone to publicly admit they made a mistake. Most public figures, instead of owning their failures, minimize or deny them. To see two public figures handle this huge mistake with such dignity and compassion really inspired me.

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