In a Major League Baseball game played on June 2, 2010, at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga nearly became the 21st pitcher in Major League history to throw a perfect game. Facing the Cleveland Indians, Galarraga retired the first 26 batters he faced, but his bid for a perfect game was ruined one out short when first base umpire Jim Joyce controversially ruled that Indians batter Jason Donald reached first base safely on a ground ball. Galarraga instead finished with a one-hit shutout in a 3–0 victory. He faced 28 batters and threw 88 pitches (67 strikes and 21 balls), striking out three. The game is sometimes referred to as the “28-out perfect game“, the “Imperfect Game“, or simply the “Galarraga game“.
Video clip of the blown call at first base. Replays showed that Miguel Cabrera’s throw to Armando Galarraga beat Jason Donald to the base, but Jim Joyce called Donald safe. Derived from Fox Sports Detroit.
Joyce was tearful and apologetic to Galarraga after the game upon realizing he had made the incorrect call. Galarraga was forgiving and understanding of the mistake. Without irony, he told reporters after the game, “Nobody’s perfect.” Galarraga was the most prominent of the many people throughout Major League Baseball who subsequently voiced their support for Joyce. Unusually, the umpire met with both the pitcher and the media after the game to apologize for his error. The sportsmanship demonstrated by Galarraga and Joyce earned them both widespread praise for their handling of the incident.
This would have also marked the first perfect game in the Tigers’ 110-year history. The 83 pitches thrown before the blown call would have been the fewest pitches in a perfect game since 1908.
On tagging first base after Cabrera’s relay, Galarraga began celebrating his accomplishment. His immediate reaction to Joyce’s on-field ruling was a momentary pause followed by a wry smile at the umpire before returning to the mound. Galarraga told reporters after the game that the outing “was my best game, so far”, and said that Joyce “probably feels more bad than me. Nobody’s perfect. Everybody’s human. I understand. I give the guy a lot of credit for saying, ‘I need to talk to you.’ You don’t see an umpire tell you that after a game. I gave him a hug.” He also told reporters, “I know that I pitched a perfect game, I believe I got it. I said before, I got a perfect game. I’m going to show my son. Maybe it’s not in the book, but I’m going to tell my son, ‘One time I got a perfect game.’ I’ll show him the CD,” further calling his effort “the first 28-out perfect game”. Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland added, “It’s a crying shame. Jim [Joyce] is a class guy. This sounds crazy, but after looking at the play, nobody is going to feel worse than he does. I yelled a bit after the game because emotions are high. You just want it so bad for the kid. I don’t think you’re as mad at the umpire as mad the kid didn’t get it—and he did deserve it.” Leyland also said that Joyce’s call was part of the “human element of the game”.
Joyce, a 22-year veteran, tearfully admitted after reviewing video of the play after the game that “I did not get the call correct”, insisting that he “took a perfect game away from that kid over there that worked his ass off all night”. Joyce called the Donald ruling “the biggest call of my career”, claiming that “I thought [Donald] beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay”. The umpire later said, “I didn’t want this to be my 15 minutes of fame. I would have liked my 15 minutes to be a great call in the World Series. Hopefully, my 15 minutes are over now”.
Just prior to the next day’s game, Leyland sent Galarraga to take the Tigers’ lineup to the home plate umpire, who that day was Joyce. The two shook hands and a tearful Joyce gave the pitcher a pat on the shoulder, with a warm reception from the audience. Joyce’s accountability and regret, and Galarraga’s sportsmanship were widely praised for turning the unfortunate situation into a positive.
On June 3, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said during his morning press briefing, “I hope that baseball awards a perfect game to that pitcher”, joking that the White House was “going to work on an executive order” to that effect. He elaborated, “To watch an umpire take responsibility and to watch a pitcher do what he did, the type of sportsmanship that was exhibited there—I think that gives a lot of heart (…) I think it’s tremendously heartening to see somebody understand that they made a mistake and somebody accept the apology from somebody who made that mistake. I think that’s a good lesson in baseball.” Michigan state Governor Jennifer Granholm also issued a gubernatorial proclamation stating, in part, “I, Jennifer M. Granholm, governor of the state of Michigan, do hereby declare Armando Galarraga to have pitched a perfect game.”
The day after the botched call, in a ceremony before the Tigers game, General Motors presented Galarraga with a red 2010 Chevy Corvette Grand-Sport convertible, recognizing his outstanding performance on and off the field. GM North American President Mark Reuss said the way the pitcher had handled the situation deserved to be recognized.
Source : Armando Galaranga wikipedia entry