Thursday, October 4, 2012


The world of sports is filled with lots of great examples of human triumph. Perhaps like the champion gladiators of old, our sports heroes are put on pedestals and idolized, especially when they come through with the new world record, or the game winning homerun, touchdown, or 3-pointer from the corner with the game clock expiring.

There is a great example from the world of baseball that I find just perfectly defines a true champion. At the start of the last day of the 1941 season, Ted Williams, who had been doggedly pursuing a 0.400 batting average all season long, found his average sitting at 0.3995 (179 hits in 448 at bats). Technically, this would have fulfilled his goal and would have been listed in the official record books as a "400 average". The final day of the season, Williams' Boston Red Sox were scheduled to play in a double header against the Philidelphia A's. His manager gave him the opportunity to take the day off to preserve his average. Ted Williams looked him in the eye and told him that the record meant nothing to him if he did not accomplish it over the entirety of the season. In the first game of the double header he went 4 for 5. In the second he went 2 for 3. His season ending average sat at 0.406. This champion stepped up when his moment came and made history.

Another compelling example from the world of baseball came up last night. Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers was poised to become the first man to win the triple crown of hitting (leading his league in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in) since Carl Yaztremski did it in 1967. With a game left in his team's season, he lead the American League in all three categories, albeit by the narrowest of margins. His manager offered to let him sit out his team's final game. He declined, deciding that he would rather lose the triple crown pushing all the way through to the finish, than sitting out and keeping his fingers crossed. That is the mark of a champion.