Edward Aceta is the ace of his Dominican Little League pitching staff and he was on the mound in the bottom of the 6th inning against Venezuela. Aceta’s squad was up 2-1, with one out, runners on first and second, a 2-2 count on the batter, when this happened:
The Venezuelan coaches were certainly happy their team prevailed, but these men also know something every coach should be aware of: No matter what uniform a kid wears, they are all our kids. Aceta just lost the biggest game of his young life and was lying in a heap of emotion in the grass. Thankfully, the Venezuelan coaches didn’t let him stay that way.
Venezuela manager Alexander Ballesteros told ESPN, “It was sad. It could have happened to anyone. It could have happened to our own ‘Little Altuve’ here.” Ballesteros was speaking affectionately of his own Oscar Romero, comparing him to Venezuelan Major Leaguer José Altuve.
They did what every coach should do. They picked the kid up, dusted him off and let him know everything was going to be OK. The opposing coaches couldn’t change the score, but they did change Aceta’s experience.
Sportsmanship is about reaching out when you don’t have to. The Dominican coaches and parents surely would have comforted Aceta, but the actions of the Venezuelan coaches showed every kid on both teams that winning never trumps compassion.