COMMENTARY: A Perfect Game

In Echoes of the Maggid, Rabbi Paysach Krohn tells a story of a young boy with severe learning disabilities named Shaya who was walking past a park with his father when he saw a group of boys playing baseball.

He asked his dad if he thought they’d let him play. Although Shaya couldn’t even hold a bat properly, his father asked one of the boys, who surprisingly said yes.

The boy knew Shaya and reasoned that the game was almost over with his team six runs behind. He said, “He can play the outfield, and we’ll try to put him up to bat in the last inning.”

Unexpectedly, the team rallied. With two outs, the bases loaded, and the potential winning run at the plate, it was Shaya’s turn to bat. The boys kept their word and let him come to the plate.

After a clumsy first swing, a teammate held the bat with Shaya. The pitcher moved closer and lobbed the ball in softly. With his teammate’s help, Shaya hit a slow ground ball back to the pitcher.

Although he could have easily thrown Shaya out and ended the game, the pitcher deliberately threw it over the first baseman’s head. Everyone started yelling, “Shaya, run to first! Run to first!”

Wide-eyed with excitement, Shaya ran. The right fielder saw his joy and intentionally made another bad throw. Players on both teams shouted for Shaya to keep running, and the shortstop helped by steering him in the right direction.

As everyone shouted, “Run home, Shaya!” Shaya finally reached home plate to a hero’s welcome as all 18 boys cheered him for his game-winning grand slam home run.

Shaya was deliriously happy, and his father wept, knowing he’d just experienced a perfect moment in a perfect game.

This is Michael Josephson, reminding you that character counts.

(This commentary was adapted from a story circulated on the Internet under the name “Run, Shaya, Run.” The original version was published under the name “Perfection at the Plate” in Echoes of the Maggid by Paysach Krohn, who claimed the story was true and that he heard it from Shaya’s father, a friend of his. An interesting critique of the incident, which says treating such children in a patronizing manner is disrespectful and unhelpful in the long term, can be found at Snopes.com.)

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Comments 8

  1. If we lived in a perfect world this would be the perfect story. Unfortunately, we don’t and I would have to be one of those who say, “It could happen, but I would have had to see it with my own eyes.” I would love it to be true, I just don’t, but want it to be true desperately, just to prove that not all of us are cynics.

    1. Even if it is not true, it is a wonderful example of what we should aspire to. This is the sort of person we should strive to be, so that stories like this can one day become more than fiction. If it is true, well, all the better!

  2. It is sad that many of us could think that this story was made up. Saddly, we have no more hope or faith in people. Sure I do believe that there is people giving away these good actions, care, and love 🙂

  3. This story brought tears to my eyes. Mostly because I am emotional and pregnant I suppose. I love stories like this – especially because the child I am carrying has DOwn Syndrome. I do believe that stories like this happen everyday.

    1. Of course this is a true story!
      There are good people in the world and good things happen not only every day but every minute. We hear so much negative from the media however I feel our youth and general population are good, we just sometimes get too wrapped up in our everyday lives.
      Have you ever smiled at a stranger; it is so fun and rewarding just to get a simple smile in return. Congratulations on your bundle of joy, you are blessed indeed.

  4. Michael told this story when he spoke years ago to the employees of the City of San Diego. Wouldn’t it be great if all kids had this kind of compassion? We would not have to spend our time dealing with bullying in schools, playgrounds, etc. Parents, it is up to you. You are the ones who brought your children into this world, your responsibility is to raise them with a loving caring heart. The world does not revolve around your child, but he/she could make the world of a child less fortunate.

  5. As a parent of 6 kids, all of which participated in four of five different sport, and as a coach in Middle school and High School for 40 years, I have seen this kind of thing many times. Sometimes it has involved learning disabled kids and sometimes it involved people with physical disabilities. Of course there have been the opposite examples but I have found that the majority of our youth want to and will treat others with respect when given the opportunity. O course the example set by the adults in their lives play a much greater role than we realize and sometimes want to admit.

  6. Although this shows compassion and gives us all that “feel good” effect, I question whether allowing Shaya to get the grand slam was the ethical thing to do. Yes, we can all pat ourselves on the back because Shaya felt elated that he helped the team win with his grandslam, however the fact remains the whole thing was based on a lie. That lie being Shaya genuinely felt that he helped his team win, while the truth is both his team and the opposing team allowed that to happen.
    Now Shaya has a feeling he can play baseball with the best; however what happens next time with this new found confidence when Shaya is at bat and the opposing team plays their best? Or does his dad not allow this to happen by adding more lies to the picture, and make up a new excuse every time Shaya wants to try and play for another team?

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