From Joy to Mercy
By Beverly Hicks Burch
It was the bottom of the eighth inning in South Williamsport, PA. Twelve year old Dalton Carriker stepped up to bat for his Warner Robins, GA Little League team. His team was in a tie with a lineup from Tokyo, Japan in the Little League World Series. This was a really big deal for a whole field of knotty headed little fellows from both sides of the globe. (Yep, I’ve been the mom of one such fondly named “knotty” headed little fellow.)
The pitch was thrown and Dalton swung his bat and to paraphrase an old phrase, that ball was out of there…Dalton hit a homerun! And, his run won the game for Warner Robins, GA over Tokyo 3-2; it also brought home the title for the USA for the third straight year. As he round the bases, his young face was the picture of innocent ecstasy and jubilance.
But, what happened next, and I’ve seen the video several times, was a sight to behold. After a long battle, and a close taste of victory the young athletes from Japan were crushed by their defeat. They had travel thousands of miles from home with high hopes, just to see it vanish in a matter of seconds. Their little hearts were broken and it was just too much for some of them to deal with at the time. Some broke into quiet tears of disappointment, defeat and sadness on the field.
And then an amazing young man, Dalton Carriker, unprompted as far as I could see by anything other than compassion moved from one of the zenith moments of his thus far short life, to a moment of ultimate human compassion. He went from home plate out to the field to offer a hug and comfort to one of the defeated Japanese lads. Upon seeing his grace and compassion, most of his teammates followed suit. Those little dusty faced, knotty headed fellows went from joy to mercy in a heartbeat.
In these tainted days when most sports are played for big bucks, big name pro athletes, bragging rights and other nefarious reasons it was certainly refreshing to see the all-American past-time return to its roots…kids and the heart of the matter. It almost erases the taint of Michael Vick and his stain of cruelty and animal abuse.
It’s easy to be cynical nowadays, but, know this…somewhere, someone did something right to teach a 12 year old male kid to respond so compassionately to the hurt of a total stranger.
The world loves to call us the ugly Americans and unfortunately, sometimes the behavior of some cretins earns them the insult. But, Dalton Carriker and his Warner Robins team were Southern gentlemen and they made me proud to be an American and proud to be Southern…
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Matthew 5:7
And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say unto you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven”. Matthew 18:2-3
© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.