By now everyone has heard the story – the blown call on the final out of the perfect game. Armando Galarraga had faced and retired 26 batters. No walks, no hits. Perfection. Bottom of the ninth, 2 outs and a routine ground ball and a flip to first – it was done – only the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history. Then First Base Umpire Jim Joyce made the call as he saw it – the runner was safe and the perfect game gone.
We live in a world of instant feedback, of constant information, of second guessing and 20/20 hindsight. It is an instant replay world, and instant replay told the story Wednesday night – a young man had his perfect game taken from him. Make no mistake, Jim Joyce blew it. However, from that moment forward, we have seen the best of human nature in both Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce.
Neither denied what happened, nor did they shy away from the issue. Armando Galarraga took the high road right off – he accepted the call and moved forward. He retired the next batter and won the game. No theatrics, no fits, no drama. The Tigers won the game, Galarraga notched another victory and everyone moved forward. He did not attack Jim Joyce for doing his job and making a call as he saw it. He was mature and professional. He was also disappointed, but never did he lose his composure.
Thank you Jim Joyce. You stepped up, owned the call, and more importantly owned the mistake that was made. Above all you did the hardest thing – you sought out Armando Galarraga and delivered your apology in person, with contrition and heartfelt sincerity. Jim Joyce went from villan to hero in 24 hours. There is a massive lesson there for all of us.
They have both been an example of perfection in an imperfect world. Maybe the game will not go down as a perfect game, but rest assured the behaviour of Jim Joyce and Armando Galaraga will.