Mistakes shouldn’t define a career

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By John Whitlock

It’s amazing how quickly mistakes can destroy a career.

In case you haven’t heard, Jim Joyce,  the Major League umpire who called a runner safe when he was obviously out, cost Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Armando Galarraga one of the rarest feats in all professional sports – a perfect game, 27 batters up and 27 batters down.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Joyce, who had a clear view of the play at first base, called the batter, Jason Donald of the Cleveland Indians, safe.

Joyce was the only person in the stadium who saw it that way.

The replay clearly showed Donald was out and Galarraga should have had his perfect game.

Although the Tigers protested the call, Joyce’s decision would stand.

After the game, after it was all over, Joyce reviewed the replay and saw his mistake – and in a display of class that is rarely seen in this day, the umpire admitted the mistake and apologized to Galarraga.

In what should have been the most important moment of Galarraga’s career and the story he would happily tell his grandkids over and over, Joyce blew it.

The burden Joyce carries will haunt his career for the rest of his life.

Joyce’s biggest mistake was replayed on 56-inch high-definition screens across the world over and over.

He will have to live with the price of his mistake.

Other times, the mistakes that mark your life aren’t so obvious. They might consist of some misplaced words or heat-of-the-moment actions.

As the Owen County Board of Education begins the long and difficult process of selecting a superintendent, the members have a lot to consider.

Experience, ability and the skill to lead the Owen County School District through tough fiscal times when everyone – from the students, to the teachers, to the classified staff – is asked to do more with less must be considered by the board.

Even before the first resume is received, there is one person in Owen County who many people agree can do that job – Mark Cleveland.

Since the incidents which led to his contract not being renewed, Cleveland has been contrite and forthcoming. He has owned his mistakes and has taken responsibility for them. Although some of the details about the confrontation with Owen County Primary site-based council member Kitty Cammack have been contradicted by each side, Cleveland has been forthcoming with details.

But as last week’s Owen County High School graduation exercise proved, many of Owen County’s top students appreciate the role Cleveland has had in their lives.

There can be little debate that his comments to the administrative staff showed poor judgement. Cleveland readily acknowledges this and has vowed to improve.

By choosing not to renew Cleveland’s contract, the Owen County Board of Education sent the very appropriate message that his behavior is not condoned.

By bringing Cleveland back on a one-year contract, the board would show respect for what Cleveland has accomplished while also showing future problems will not be tolerated.

Let’s hope Cleveland’s career is remembered for the successes he’s had helping children learn and not by his mistakes.

John Whitlock  is the editor of the News-Herald