Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga (58) covers first base as Cleveland Indians' Jason Donald, right, runs to the base. He was called safe by umpire Joyce.
Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga (58) covers first base as Cleveland Indians' Jason Donald, right, runs to the base. He was called safe by umpire Joyce.

Bad call ruins perfect game for Galarraga

Umpire's mistake costs pitcher a perfect game annd leads to calls for increased use of video replays for more than just home runs in MLB.

DETROIT // Armando Galarraga sat in the Detroit Tigers locker room, bitter and lashing out at Jim Joyce, the first base umpire, for missing a call that cost him a perfect game. A few minutes later, an apology and a hug changed Galarraga's attitude. Joyce, in tears, asked for a chance to apologise after seeing a replay and realising he had blown the call with two out in the ninth inning of the Tigers' 3-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night.

He called Cleveland's Jason Donald safe at first, ending a streak of 26 batters retired by Galarraga - one short of a perfect game. "You don't see an umpire after the game come out and say, 'Hey, let me tell you I'm sorry'," Galarraga said. "He felt really bad." The play reignited the argument that Major League Baseball should expand their use of replays. At present, replays are used only on home runs.

It is rare for an umpire to acknowledge a mistake in a sport that relies heavily on the human eye, but Joyce did. "It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the [stuff] out of it," Joyce said, looking distraught as he paced in the umpires' locker room. "I just cost that kid a perfect game." Jim Leyland, the Detroit manager, was livid after the play. He charged out of the dugout to argue the call and got in another heated discussion with Joyce after the final out. Later, though, Leyland tried to give Joyce a break.

"The players are human, the umpires are human, the managers are human," he said. Joyce has been a full-time major league umpire since 1989. He has been respected enough to be on the field for two World Series, 11 other play-off series and a pair of all-star games. But a split-second decision he made will probably haunt him for the rest of his career. Galarraga was vying for the third perfect game in the majors this year. He seemed to do his job for the 27th out, along with Miguel Cabrera, the first baseman, on a standard play.

Donald hit a grounder between first and second, Cabrera fielded it and threw to first, where Galarraga caught the ball at least a step ahead of Donald, replays showed. "I feel sad," Galarraga said. "I just watched the replay 20 times and there is no way you can call him safe." The Tigers huddled around one of the two big-screen televisions in their clubhouse, standing stoically and silently as the play was shown over and over.

Before leaving the field, many of the Tigers angrily let Joyce know how they felt. "Emotions were running high for everybody and I think that is why the guys were emotional after the game," Leyland said. "I wish we wouldn't have been, but we were. But I think it's understandable in that case. That's a pretty sacred thing, something like that." After Joyce's call, Galarraga quietly went back to work as the crowd booed. Cabrera continued to argue as Galarraga quickly retired Trevor Crowe for the final out and a one-hit shutout. "I don't blame them a bit for anything that was said," Joyce said. "I would've said it myself if I had been Galarraga. I would've been the first person in my face, and he never said a word to me." * AP

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 UAE rugby player Adam Telford, right, catches the ball during a Test match against Singapore at The Sevens ground in Dubai on Wednesday. UAE lost the Asian 5 Nations match 30-13 to be relegated to the third tier of Asian rugby. Sarah Dea / The National / April 23, 2014

In pictures: UAE rugby in action against Singapore

Images from the Asian Five Nations Test for UAE rugby against Singapore on Wednesday night at The Sevens ground in Dubai.

 Ravindra Jadeja of Chennai Super Kings playing a shot in their Indian Premier League win over Rajasthan Royals at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday. Jadeja scored 36 runs not out from 33 balls. Pawan Singh / The National / April 23, 2014

In pictures: Chennai Super Kings notch win behind do-everything Jadeja

Images from Wednesday night's Indian Premier League match in Dubai, where Ravindra Jadeja led Chennai Super Kings over Rajasthan Royals.

 Karim Benzema of Real Madrid celebrates scoring the opening goal in the Champions League semi-final first leg match against Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday in Madrid, Spain. Martin Rose / Bongarts / Getty Images / April 23, 2014

In pictures: Benzema propels Real Madrid over Bayern Munich

Images from Real Madrid's 1-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final first leg match at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night.

 Chris Gayle has been the most feared batsman in the Royal Challengers Bangalore line-up since he joined the team in 2011. Indranil Mukherjee / AFP

Parthiv continues to fill Gayle’s big shoes for Bangalore

Indian wicketkeeper-batsman will continue to open the innings for Royal Challengers with the West Indian still nursing his bad back, writes Paul Radley.

 Dana Shamlawi pulls a 4x4 car during the final day of the UAE Strongman Competition in Dubai. Delores Johnson / The National

UAE Strongman Competition takes weight training to a whole new scale

Two-day competition in Dubai attracts men and women from across the Emirates and proves it takes more than just bulky muscles to win, writes Ali Khaled.

 UAE’s Charlie Sargent tries to avoid a tackle by Singapore team members during the one-off Division 1 Test at The Sevens. The Singapore-born winger was making his debut. Sarah Dea / The National

Asian Five Nations: UAE go into rebuilding mode in Division 2

With a new look squad, including five emerging Emirati players, the UAE will hope to restructure and get into the winning habit in more forgiving climes when they drop a level in the revamped competition next season.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National