Time magazine called the moment “the most iconic play in sports” for 2010. Veteran Major League Baseball umpire Jim Joyce has no explanation. “I can’t even explain the feeling, because there are no words,” he told ESPN.com. Former Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galaragga, on the other hand, calls it a perfect game — still.
On June 2, 2010, Joyce was umpiring first base in Detroit for the Tigers and Cleveland Indians game. Galaragga was clinging to a major league roster spot. On this night he did more than that. He retired the first 26 Indians consecutively and was on the brink of immortality.
Indians rookie Jason Donald hit a routine ground ball to first base. Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera fielded the ball cleanly, flipped to Galaragga covering first and … bang (the ball smacked Galaragga’s glove), bang (Galaragga’s foot hit the bag), bang (Donald’s foot hit the bag) and bang (Joyce’s life turned upside down).
Joyce called Donald safe when he was clearly out. Without the aid of a replay, it seemed everyone except Joyce knew the call was wrong. After the game, Joyce admitted it too, but still the replay, the interviews, the phone calls and letters poured in for days, weeks and months.
The next morning, New York author Dan Paisner called his agent at William Morris agency, both baseball fans, to ask if he’d seen the play. Paisner floated the idea of writing a book to his agent. The result: Nobody’s Perfect: Two men, One Call and a Game for Baseball History was released in late May 2011, almost one year to the day of the event.
Paisner joined me via phone from his home in New York for the latest edition of Voices — A Sports Podcast. We discuss the play, the player, the umpire, the historical significance and how the event effected both Galaragga and Joyce.
Nobody’s Perfect: Two Men, One Call and a Game for Baseball History is available at all major booksellers. You can purchase the book on Amazon.com here.