Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was one out away from completing a “perfect game,” when the Cleveland Indians’ Jason Donald hit a ground ball to first baseman Miguel Cabrera for the apparent last out. Galarraga covered first base and took the throw, beating Donald to the bag by a step.
Yet the celebration was suddenly halted by umpire Jim Joyce’s outstretched arms, ruling Donald safe despite video evidence to the contrary. With both a perfect game and a no-hitter out the window, Galarraga calmly went back to work, retiring Trevor Crowe to seal a one-hit, 3-0 victory.
The scene that followed was far from a typical ending to a home team victory. As some of his teammates angrily confronted Joyce, Galarraga walked off the field not to cheers he so richly deserved, but to boos directed past him toward the first base umpire.
Yet in the recesses of the Comerica Park dressing rooms, away from the public eye and ire, the silver lining of this apparent cloud began to shine forth. After viewing a replay, Jim Joyce made the greatest call of his career: he admitted he was wrong, asked to speak with Galarraga, and tearfully embraced the pitcher while offering a heart-felt apology.
He apologized as well to Detroit manager Jim Leyland, and both Galarraga and Leyland spoke compassionately of Joyce and human frailty in their post-game remarks.
While disappointed that a perfect game will not be added to the record books, they expressed an understanding that everyone makes mistakes, and when mistakes are admitted and apologies are offered, forgiveness must be granted.
Sports are useless if they do not point us toward something beyond themselves, and teach us how to become better human beings. As disappointing as Joyce’s call was to this life-long Tiger fan, the beautiful lesson in humility and forgiveness is so much more important than a purely athletic achievement. By James Penrice 6/4/2010 Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)