MLB umpire Jim Joyce is a role model for the ages
Jim Joyce has been a very good Major League Baseball umpire for a long time.
In the hours following his blown call that cost Detroit Tigers right-hander Armando Galarraga a perfect game Wednesday night against the Cleveland Indians, Joyce became a great one.
For decades, umpires and officials from all sports have been protected by commissioners and league policies that keep them from being held accountable for missed calls such as the one that cost the good-natured Galarraga his deserved place in history.
Although it would not have been easy to do considering the backlash he was receiving in the aftermath of the call that allowed Cleveland’s Jason Donald to reach on an infield single, Joyce could have taken shelter behind that cloak of protection last night.
Instead, he stepped up like the professional he is and took the heat like the man most of us only hope to be.
Joyce apologized to the uber-classy Galarraga following the game after he saw the replay – an almost unprecedented gesture in baseball circles – then faced the music with a pool reporter from The Associated Press.
Click here for the complete text and audio of Joyce’s interview with the AP.
“I just cost that kid a perfect game,” Joyce said. “I thought (Donald) beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw until I saw the replay. It was the biggest call of my career and I kicked the shit out of it. I took a perfect game away from that kid over there.”
In the face of threats to himself and his family from hostile fans still fuming over his “safe” call on what should have been a history-making out at first base, Major League Baseball gave Joyce the opportunity to sit out today’s series finale Comerica Park.
Joyce would have none of it.
Still wiping away tears of regret hours after perhaps the most talked about blown call since Don Denkinger’s gaffe in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, Joyce was in full gear behind home plate to meet with Galarraga, who presented the Tigers’ lineup card, to create one of the truly memorable moments of this or any baseball season.
The notion that umpires are infallable has never been an issue.
Anyone who has seen Joe West or C.B. Bucknor operate know that is not the case.
The notion of one of them owning up to a mistake, especially one with the ramifications of Wednesday night, in the manner Joyce has done is not only refreshing, it is model for all of us to follow.
And how about that dynamic, over-the-shoulder catch by former Thunder center fielder Austin Jackson to keep the Galarraga perfecto intact to begin the ninth?
“Not everybody can do that,” Trenton manager Tony Franklin said of his former star player on the 2007 Eastern League champions. “A.J. is very athletic and he’s capable of those types of catches.”
Jackson also went 3-for-4, then 4-for-6 with three doubles Thursday to raise his batting average to .341 – fifth in the American League.