Green Room

The Perfect Game—That Wasn’t So Perfect

posted at 11:32 am on June 3, 2010 by

Last night Armando Galarraga did everything perfect in a baseball game between Detroit and Cleveland. Nine innings, “twenty-seven outs“, no runs, no hits, and no walks. The only problem was umpire Jim Joyce missed the call on the last out. To be honest, the call was close, but I’ve seen closer calls made correctly. Joyce, a veteran umpire just simply made the wrong call, and what should have been the third perfect game (this season), finished with a 3-0 Detroit victory and a “one hit” shout-out. 

While sportswriters and the news media will tell the story of the one that got away, and all the reasons why more instant re-play should be instituted into the game, I think the real story is about how both professionals handled the “event”. To the enormous credit of both the umpire and player, it was the class and sportsmanship that followed after the game that should be remembered. 

Rarely does a veteran umpire personally apologize to a player for his errors. Jim Joyce took his “mistake” to a higher level by letting Galarraga know just how sorry he was:

 Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said Joyce asked to speak with Galarraga. Denied the first perfect game in Tigers history, Galarraga appreciated the gesture.”You don’t see an umpire after the game come out and say, ‘Hey, let me tell you I’m sorry,’ ” Galarraga said. “He felt really bad. He didn’t even shower.” 

 Joyce went on to make this statement to the sportswriters:

 “It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the [stuff] out of it,” Joyce said, looking and sounding distraught as he paced in the umpires’ locker room. “I just cost that kid a perfect game.”  “I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay,” he said after the Tigers’ 3-0 win.  “I don’t blame them a bit for anything that was said,” Joyce said. “I would’ve said it myself if I had been Galarraga. I would’ve been the first person in my face, and he never said a word to me.”

 Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci also recognized the level of class between these two: 

It was a classy move by Joyce, who also apologized to Galarraga personally. The pitcher told a Venezuelan reporter that Joyce was crying when he offered him his apology. 

“He really feel bad. He probably feel more bad than me,” Galarraga told Fox Sports Detroit. “Nobody’s perfect, everybody’s human. I understand. I give a lot of credit to the guy saying, ‘Hey, I need to talk to you because I really say I’m sorry.’ That don’t happen. You don’t see an umpire after the game say ‘I’m sorry.’” 

In a game where you will rarely see a veteran umpire cry—let alone apologize, both Joyce and Galarraga showed the kind of class that would make one proud to call this America’s Greatest Pastime.  Isn’t is sad that this lesson can’t be passed on to our government leaders who also sometimes make bad calls? 

(A few years ago, I hit the “perfect” golf shot—174 yards from the tee box, two perfect bounces, and the ball rolled ten feet further to drop into the hole. It was “a thing of beauty”. The only problem, I had to take a par on the hole. My first shot from the tee was left and out of bounds, so I was hitting three off the tee. It may be the greatest par I will ever get—but, it wasn’t perfect.)

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Admit it Rovin, you only wrote this article to tell us about your perfect shot.

mgman on June 3, 2010 at 12:20 PM

mgman on June 3, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Naw, hackers like me just try to show what good sports we are. I really was impressed with the level of class in this story. As a rabid baseball fan, you just don’t see this with all of today’s prima-donnas.

Rovin on June 3, 2010 at 4:49 PM

When is the last time we saw a politician, at any level – city, state, federal – act with even 10% of the class displayed here?

Who is John Galt on June 4, 2010 at 9:39 AM