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2010s / Jim Joyce Blown Call Incident
It was one of the strangest feel-good stories in sports history: On Wednesday, June 2, 2010, Detroit Tigers' pitcher Armando Galarraga was one out from pitching a rare perfect game. Cleveland Indians' batter Jason Donald hit a ground ball to the right side of the infield. First baseman Miguel Cabrera moved toward second base to field the ball. Galarraga ran from the pitcher's mound to cover first base. Cabrera's throw to Galarraga beat Donald to the bag by about three-quarters of a step--but Jim Joyce, a highly regarded 22-year MLB veteran umpire, incorrectly ruled Donald safe. Galarraga retired the next Indians' hitter for a 3-0 shutout win, but Joyce came under immediate fire for missing the call that cost Galarraga a perfect game. Death threats were sent to his family members in Oregon. MLB Security provided extra protection to Joyce and his umpiring crew. However, Joyce did a remarkable thing: he publicly and candidly acknowledged his error and tearfully apologized to Galarraga in the umpires' room. Galarraga handled the situation incredibly well, telling Joyce that "we're all human." The next afternoon, Joyce was working home plate. Tigers' manager Jim Leyland sent Galarraga to the plate to present the lineup card to a teary-eyed Joyce (see photo). The crowd loudly cheered both Joyce and Galarraga. The dynamics of the situation completely changed: Joyce was then widely hailed as a hero for owning up to his mistake. He received hundreds of letters and emails of support from people from all walks of life. When Joyce's umpiring crew arrived in Philadelphia for their next series, they were applauded at the airport.