On the last out of the last play of a perfect game Umpire Jim Joyce emphatically signaled safe setting off a roar of groans echoing through the stadium. Everyone who saw the play could see that Jason Donald of the Cleveland Indians was out at first base.
The call could not be reversed. It was final. No instant replay. Just a bad call leaving a bad taste in the mouths of Detroit Tigers fans who have never seen a pitcher in their pinstripes pitch perfect game in the entire teams existence.
Joyce later admitted that it was a bad call. It is rare for an umpire to acknowledge a mistake. It really shows genuine humility and character. The veteran umpire personally apologized and hugged the prospective perfect pitcher Armando Galarraga after the game. In the locker room following Joyce said, “It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the [stuff] out of it. I just cost that kid a perfect game.”
Today at the game the team awarded Galarraga with a brand new Corvette. Joyce and Galarraga met at home plate and the pitcher presented the umpire with the Tigers’ lineup card. Joyce shook hands with Galarraga and patted him on the shoulder. Joyce wiped away tears and and went to work. The MLB gave Joyce the option to not work today’s game, but Joyce chose to stick with his job behind the plate.
Joyce later said to reporters, “I wish my family was out of this. I wish they would direct it all to me. It’s a big problem. My wife is a rock. My kids are very strong. They don’t deserve this.”
This is a wonderful lesson of forgiveness and restoration. Joyce’s willingness to admit fault was courageous, but Galarraga smile despite being ripped a perfect game was priceless.
Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”