Should We Be Judged On The One Bad Inning Of Our Life?


I was having lunch a few months ago with an old teammate of mine from high school days. He continues to be a good friend. We played on the same baseball team for many years. During the summer of my junior year he and I led our team to a championship. He was one of the leagues best pitchers. He was looking forward to a great senior year in high school and then on to college where he hoped to continue pitching.  But a funny thing happened on his way to that college baseball career; it got derailed. Its interesting how one inning of baseball can stay so clear in your mind. Both he and I rehashed “the inning” the other day at lunch.

“The inning” was the only one he ended up pitching in our senior year. It went like this. In the third game of the year he started the baseball game for us. I was playing third base that game. He and I both remember every batter he faced in “the inning”, which was five.  He walked one batter and then three errors were committed by teammates. The last batter he faced hit a ball so far they were still running it down when he crossed home plate. Five batters up, five batters home. The coach took him out and my friend only pitched a few innings in mop up for the rest of the season. We never lost a game after that till the championship.  Others were called upon to pitch and they did well. All the while my friend sat on the bench as there seemed to be no need of his services. After the season was over he and I tried out for the local American Legion Baseball Team, which was the best in the area. He didn’t make it. I’m sure it was because he had nothing to show for his senior year. He ended up playing for the local community college but he never got the chance to really prove how good of a pitcher he really was. Years later my friend told me that he saw our old coach and that he had apologized to him, and regretted not having given him another opportunity to pitch. It seemed his whole baseball career had been judged by “the inning”.

Far too often a man’s life gets judged by “the inning” in his life. Over the years, I have read or heard people be critical of others lives.  They pick “the inning” of his/her life that is the worst, then, magnify that “inning” so that it overshadows all the good that he ever did. Many a man or woman has had their life picked apart by others who are looking for the worst “inning” of their lives. All of us have an “inning” in our lives that we are not proud of. I am sure all of us wish we hadn’t said or done something in our past. Many years ago a famous news anchor put undue focus on a past mistake of a presidential candidate who he was interviewing. Finally, the candidate, exasperated by the seeming obsession of the reporter on the “inning” of his life, shot back ” How would you like it if I judged your career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York?” (This was in reference to an embarrassing incident that had happened to the reporter years before).

People make mistakes, we make mistakes! We would be wise to hold judgement on the lives of others due to an “inning” of weakness. A lifetime of good works and service should not be erased and judged by the worst “inning” in a career. If we discounted all such people, we wouldn’t have a soul left who would be worthy of any honor. My friend, the pitcher, paid a heavy price for “the inning.”  If his pitching had been judged by our coach on the total, he would have been given greater respect, and I might add, we might have won the championship instead of losing it. We will never know, because, judgment was rendered on one “inning.” We need to be careful in how harshly we judge others. We need to be benevolent and kind and understanding of others weaknesses. The Savior said:

“…forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)

Forgiveness is a wonderful virtue. My fear is that, if we are not merciful in how we judge others, perhaps others will judge us by our one bad “inning”, and frankly, the thought of that is pretty frightening.

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