A baseball player in Georgia is earning praise for a tremendous display of sportsmanship toward a grieving opponent late last month.
“We salute you, Jo Vaal Hollingshed,” wrote Newton County Schools in a Facebook post. “Class act, young man.”
During an Eastside (Covington, Ga.) home baseball game earlier this season in Newton County, the father of pitcher Michael Hipps Jr. suffered a medical emergency while cheering on his son. He later died.
On March 29, Hipps made his return to the home mound for the first time since his father’s death for a game against rival Henry County (McDonough, Ga.). Prior to the game, Hipps’ team released green and black balloons in honor of their teammate’s late father.
As Hipps prepared to throw the first pitch to Hollingshed, Henry County’s shortstop and leadoff hitter, Hollingshed left the batter’s box and walked straight toward the pitcher. Hollingshed gave Hipps a hug and a handshake before returning to his at-bat.
Hipps’ Eagles ended up winning the game, but the result was sidebar to Hollingshed’s gesture.
In addition, Hollingshed recently earned recognition from each school district for what he had done. Newton County Schools’ Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey and Eastside principal Jeff Cher attended the Henry County Schools’ Board of Education meeting on Monday to present Hollingshed with a Coin of Distinction award.
According to Fox 5 Atlanta (WAGA), he’s only the second person in the history of the honor to not be part of the Newton County School System.
“In today’s day and age, we all could use a lot more kindness and a lot more thoughtfulness,” Fuhrey said. “While he might think his actions were simple, they meant a great deal to our Newton County family.”