First base umpire Jim Joyce blew an easy call on what should have been the final out of the game. Jason Donald grounded to first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who ranged to his right. Cabrera set himself and threw accurately to Galarraga, who took the throw and stepped on the bag at least one full step ahead of Donald. Joyce, who was in perfect position to see the play, called the runner safe.
Galarraga had just begun to raise in arms in celebration when he heard the safe call and offered only a wry smile, similar to the smile he had flashed about five minute earlier, at the start of the ninth inning, when Austin Jackson raced to deep left-center and made an over-the-shoulder basket catch on Mark Grudzielanek's long fly.
Replays immediately showed that Joyce's call was wrong. Galarraga retired the next batter for the complete game one-hitter (the first complete game of his career). In reality, he retired all 28 batters he faced. Perfecto +1.
It should have been the first perfect game in Tigers history (transcription of Tigers radio broadcast).
Joyce saw a replay after the game was over.
I just cost that kid a perfect game. I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay. It was the biggest call of my career. ... I worked with Don Denkinger. I know what he went through, but I had never had a moment like this until tonight.Galarraga:
I feel sad. I just watched the replay 20 times and there's no way you can call him safe. I wish I could talk to the guy that took a perfect game away from me. He needs to do a better job in that situation. It wasn't even close.Donald:
I didn't know if I beat the throw or not. But given the circumstances, I thought for sure I'd be called out.Galarraga did see Joyce afterwards and said Joyce apologized to him. Some reports say Joyce was in tears.
He really feels bad. He probably feels more bad than me. Nobody is perfect. I give a lot of credit to that guy. That (an apology) doesn't happen. He apologized. He feels really bad. Nobody is perfect. What am I gonna do? His body language said more than a lot of words. His eyes were watery, he didn't have too say much. His body language said a lot.I have no idea how Galarraga could be so poised and classy after what happened to him -- and seeing the replay 20 times.
I got a perfect game. Maybe it's not in the book, but I'm going to show my son the CD.It's a shame that everyone in the world knows the call was 100% wrong -- Tigers fans, Cleveland fans, all other baseball fans, Galarraga, Donald, even Joyce -- there is no gray area whatsoever -- and yet we have to life with it. It's beyond fucked up. Galarraga retired the next guy, so that makes the correct thing to do very easy:
The umpires should call a press conference and say the call at first was wrong and because it was the final out of a perfect game, Joyce's call is being overturned. And the 28th Cleveland batter is wiped from the books. The Tigers still win the game. And Galarraga gets credit for what he did.
Who could possibly have a problem with this? Official scorers often change their ruling, sometimes several innings later. No one bats an eye. This was not a botched call in the fourth or seventh inning. The game was over when Galarraga's foot hit the bag.
Isn't the whole idea to make sure games are called correctly?