A perfect game is defined by Major League Baseball as a game in which a pitcher (or combination of pitchers) pitches a victory that lasts a minimum of nine innings and in which no opposing player reaches base. This has happened only 20 times since 1900, but last week it looked like another was about to go into the record books. Detroit’s Armando Galarraga was one out away from becoming part of baseball history when umpire Jim Joyce mistakenly called Cleveland’s Jason Donald safe at first base.
At the time, Joyce thought he made the right call, though replays later revealed that he had it wrong. “I have replayed that play so many times, my head hurts,” Joyce said. “All I can see is Armando Galarraga’s face. He didn’t say a word to me. I can see his face and him not saying anything. When that happens, you think you’re right.”
Some of Galarraga’s teammates argued the call, but Armando just smiled and went back to the pitcher’s mound. After the game, Joyce admitted his mistake, apologized profusely and hugged the pitcher. All reports indicated that the veteran umpire was devastated.
Galarraga accepted Joyce’s apology and said that he respected the umpire for apologizing and admitting his mistake. The pitcher told CNN simply, “We’re human. We make mistakes.” Both men acted with the greatest integrity and respect, not only for each other, but for the game.
No one in any field gets it right every time. Think back to the last time you made the wrong call with a prospect or a client and ask if you exhibited the same amount of class we saw from these two gentlemen. The lesson Galarraga and Joyce provided is worth much more than all of the perfect games ever played.
Check out more blog entries from David Saltzman.