Jim Joyce Steals MLB History From Armando Galarraga, Tigers and Fans


Maybe it was never meant to be. It’s all about destiny in terms of a perfect game. So maybe, for Armando Galarraga, destiny was not in his cards on June 2nd, 2010.

Still, it was a pretty terrible call and that’s probably an understatement.

Umpire Jim Joyce inserted himself squarely and firmly into the debates of an umpire’s role in a game and about whether or not Major League Baseball should enact sweeping changes to its instant replay rules by ruling the Indians’ Jason Donald safe at first base — when he was out by a step — in what should have been the 27th out of Galarraga’s perfect game.

By Paul Schmidt

To Joyce’s credit, and somewhat ending at least a little of the controversy is Joyce’s mea culpa after the game that he did, in fact, blow the call.

Per Dave Hogg via Twitter, a freelance sportswriter from the Detroit area, Joyce was actually distraught after the game.

“It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the shit out of it,” Joyce said.

Hogg also asked if Joyce would try to get in touch with Galarraga, and he didn’t know.

“I don’t know what to do,” Joyce said. “I just cost that kid a perfect game.”

Maybe it shouldn’t, but it seems like the fact that Joyce was so upset about the call that it diminishes how egregious the call was.

Putting things in perspective, yes, the 21st perfect game in MLB history was taken away from all of us, but especially Armando Galarraga. However, in the scheme of things, it was a regular season game at the beginning of June. The Tigers still won.

It really won’t end up mattering all that much.

The worst call in history STILL will be Don Denkinger with “The Call” at first base, followed up by two Bruce Froemming gems — the ball four that cost Milt Pappas his perfect game (clearly a strike three) and terrible call at first base in the 1977 NLCS between the Phillies and the Dodgers where Davey Lopes was out by almost a full step at first base but was called safe on a play that would have ended the game and gotten the Phillies a win.

Here’s why those are worse: Despite Denkinger admitting that the call was bad later and really being a great sport about it (he regularly makes appearances at memorabilia shows to this day to autograph photos of himself making the fateful bad call), he still cost the Cardinals a World Series. And as a Cubs fan, you should all know how difficult THOSE words were to type.

Froemmings’ calls were worse because, in reverse order, again, playoff implications and it literally cost the Phillies a game (because it would have ended it had he called it correctly) and in the case of Pappas, he was the home plate ump calling balls and strikes. Makes a little bit of a difference when you’re doing that, at least in my mind. Plus, Denkinger defended all those calls and would still do it to this day, is a noted anti-Semite, and an all-around douchebag. Let’s just say I don’t feel bad for including him here.

As for the other implications it will probably have a long-term effect times two. You can almost guarantee we’ll have some sort of a revamp to the instant replay system next season and that it will, in some way, include safe-out calls. MLB may make a concession and say that the umps have to get together to decide to go to replay to not take game control out of their hands, but changes are definitely coming.

Secondly, we will most likely again see more stringent evaluations of our MLB umpires. By design, baseball is one of the most subjective sports, with the game changing daily depending who is behind the plate and on the bases. With calls such as these mounting up, baseball will be under pressure to avoid the terrible press that the NBA has been receiving for its officiating, and they will respond quickly by coming up with a tougher evaluations system, with the penalties either being umpires getting docked pay or doling out suspensions to the offenders.

The umpires’ union will of course protest this, and in the end we may see some of the older, less capable umpires weeded out as MLB puts its foot down. If it gets younger, more capable blood into the game, from an evaluation point, it has to help baseball as a whole.

In the end the game will be better. Not that that helps Armando Galarraga or Jim Joyce sleep any better tonight.


  1. paulmbanks says

    I’ll never forget where I was when I seeing this. never. I was in the Whote Sox press box, and because the Sox were again getting killed in the first couple innings, about a dozen of us journalists, were looking at the tvs in the back of the box. watching the hawks stanley cup and this game- we turned it into a sports bar.

    when he was called safe, eevryone groaned and screamed, and we watched a dozen replays, and bitched and whined about the blown call for 10 minutes afterwards.

    somehow it also helped that the griffey retirement was announced just about an hour or two before this.

    definitely NOT a slow sports news day

  2. Kevin Hunt says

    Being an Indians fan living in northwest Ohio (technically split between the Indians and Tigers), I was rooting for a hit in the 9th inning. But not THAT kind of hit.

    I couldn’t believe the call was made the way it was. I immediately felt for the pitcher and found it hard to believe Joyce didn’t just call him out for history’s sake, even if Jason Donald was safe. Good for him to apologize, but he just planted himself in MLB history regardless.

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