WHO: Little League World Series players Isaiah Jarvis and Kaiden Shelton.

WHAT: After Shelton struck Jarvis in the head with a wild pitch, Jarvis noticed his opponent crying and hugged Shelton in a heart-melting act of forgiveness.

WHY IT’S SO GREAT: Twenty-nine years and six days ago, the great Nolan Ryan hit Robin Ventura with a pitch that led the White Sox All-Star third baseman to charge the mound in a fit of rage directed at the legendary pitcher, who was two decades his senior. What happened next is well-told history: Ryan stuffed Ventura’s bull rush, placed him in a headlock, and proceeded to take a series of potshots at the young batter before the benches cleared and the players were pulled apart. If you’re a Rangers fan, you probably remember this—or you remember your dad telling you about it and perhaps pantomiming a headlock and a few head shots to demonstrate how it went down. It’s the most famous hit-by-a-pitch moment in Texas baseball history.

After this week, though, we might consider replacing it on the Mount Rushmore of baseball beanings with a far kinder moment. On Tuesday, during the first inning of a nationally televised Little League World Series regional game between Texas East and Oklahoma in Waco, tween Pearland pitcher Kaiden Shelton threw a wild pitch that struck Tulsa twelve-year-old Isaiah Jarvis directly in the helmet—right where Jarvis’s temple would be. The replay is frightening, an image of a strong-armed boy making a bad pitch that could have had disastrous consequences if it had landed a few inches in another direction. Jarvis immediately drops, clutching his head, before standing upright and taking first base. But it’s what happens next that makes the moment an all-timer. 


While he was on first base, Jarvis realized that Shelton was crying, according to an interview he gave to the Washington Post. At that moment, he stepped up to the mound—but rather than throw hands, the Oklahoma player grabbed his Texas East counterpart in an affirming embrace, letting the pitcher know that he was fine, that he accepted his apology, and that the wild pitch was in the past. Jarvis’s coach, Sean Kouplen, told the Post that he hadn’t instructed his player to contact the rival pitcher, but when he saw Jarvis approach the mound, he was confident in the Tulsa twelve-year-old’s character. “I knew that he was going to do something kind,” Kouplen said. It was a remarkable moment of tenderness, made all the more incredible by the ages of the two children. 

When the game resumed, Texas East—which led 3–2 at that point—continued its high-caliber play, eventually winning the game 9–4. 

Despite the exceptional nature of the scene, it has inspired some contrarian takes from folks who believe that Jarvis’s compassion was a tactical error. Facing a pitcher who is weeping is a tactical advantage, they say, even if Shelton’s tears came from concern that he might have badly hurt a fellow player. It was a high-stakes game, and they had the pitcher right where they wanted him! To that, we repeat a simple axiom: There’s no crying in baseball, and we commend Jarvis for making the most of his chance to restore the game’s dignity. 

Robin Ventura had a remarkable MLB career, but his biography will always include the whupping he received from Nolan Ryan on August 4, 1993. We don’t know what Isaiah Jarvis will go on to do from here, but even if he cures cancer or becomes the first human to set foot on Mars, we suspect that his bio will also include a detail about the time he opted for forgiveness when he could have chosen rage. Sometimes, the scoreboard doesn’t fully reflect who finishes the game a winner.