Tuesday, May 12, 2009


The following article was in the sports section of the Sunday paper. This is slightly edited and abbreviated. Too often we see or hear about the bad things that sports figures do, and I found this to be so refreshing, that I decided to share it with you.

And then I was reminded of another unusual act of sportsmanship that took place about a year ago. I remembered the general drift of the story, but not the specific details. So I looked it up (in Google, of course), and there it was, complete with photo. I hope you find these stories as uplifting as I did. And, yes, there is a bit of humor at the end.

A great day for baseball
By Daniel Brown
San Jose Mercury News

Manuel Madrid of Gonzales High fielded the ball cleanly and looked up to see the pinch runner making an ill-advised dash toward home. This wasn't an ordinary pinch runner. Will Rudolph has cerebellar ataxia, a mild form of cerebral palsy. He has problems with motor skills, balance and speech.

Over the course of the previous three weeks Carmel High Coach Randall Bispo got permission from Will's parents, got him a uniform and, without a word to the Gonzales side, got him in the game. That's how Will Rudolph suddenly found himself running like mad for home plate.

For Madrid, the smart play was to throw to the plate. But he didn't make the smart play. He made the genius play: Madrid threw the ball to first. The run scored. Will Rudolph scored.

"I was going to throw home, but then I realized who it was,'' Madrid said. "It was the right thing to do, to give the kid a special moment." It wasn't just Will's special moment. Carmel High teammates bounded from the dugout and hoisted Rudolph on their shoulders. "Like a family picking up a brother," catcher Calen Urquhart said.

In the stands, Will's mom, Michelle Rudolph, violated that old rule about no crying in baseball. And she had a head start on everybody else. "I started crying when I heard the coach say, 'No. 30 pinch-running for No. 14,''' she said. "And I haven't stopped crying since."

Rudolph's run was the final tally in Carmel's 12-1 victory. But the phrase "meaningless run" does not apply here.

* * *

Will’s chance came Tuesday, when he ran for Alberto Palafox at third base. From the moment Will came loping out of the dugout, he got a standing ovation. Will, who hadn't been on base since Little League, took his lead off third, sizing up the pitcher with one out in the sixth inning. Michael Gerlach, the batter, knew what was at stake. "I wasn't feeling pressure. I was more rejoicing about the chance to get him in," Gerlach said. "I wanted to give him the highlight of his whole high school experience."

After he hit the ball and ran toward first, Gerlach looked over to see Madrid preparing to throw home. Gerlach was horrified. All the while, Gonzales catcher Francisco Banuelos was pointing for Madrid to throw to first. At the last second, Madrid decided to let the run score.

Then the third baseman looked sheepishly toward his pitcher. Oscar Hernandez stared back. They both smiled.
"I don't think it mattered to him,'' Madrid said. "He knew it was special."

Michelle Rudolph recognized instantly what Madrid had done. A former San Diego State softball player, she knew the third baseman is trained to throw home on that play. Immediately after the final out, she headed for the Gonzales side of the field. She found a gaggle of boys milling about near the snack shack. "Which one of you was the third baseman when my son was on the field?'' she asked. Nobody needed to ask her who her son was. Madrid came forward and Michelle poured her heart out. She thanked the him for his sportsmanship, for his class, for his thinking and for making his family's dreams come true.

* * *
Later that night, Michelle Rudolph, sent an e-mail to Gonzales High Principal Tom Brownell.

"I just wanted you to know what a wonderful sight it was to see a young man such as your player understand what this meant to William without even knowing him," she wrote. "Thank you for having such wonderful sportsmanship on your team."

* * * *
About a year ago, in the second game of a doubleheader, Western Oregon's Sara Tucholsky slammed what appeared to be a three-run homer over the centerfield fence, the senior's first in either high school or college. But Tucholsky wrenched her knee at first base and collapsed.

Umpires ruled that a pinch-runner could replace Tucholsky, but she would be credited with a single and only two runs would count. After being assured there was no rule against it, Central Washington first baseman Mallory Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace carried Tucholsky around the bases, completing her homer and adding a run to a 4-2 loss that eliminated Central Washington from postseason.

* * *
A bit of fun:
The scene: A man is sitting at his computer typing an e-mail. He says: “Dear Andy: How have you been? Your mother and I are fine. We miss you. Please sign off your computer and come downstairs for something to eat. Love, Dad.”


Shin: A device for finding furniture in the dark.

Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.


  1. Great stories! I played softball for a season. Okay, I sat on the bench for a season. I did get injured though--from a splinter on the bench!

  2. Love those stories! That's wonderful! Those kids will remember that forever, whereas had those been just another game it would soon be long forgotten.