Pitchers dream of throwing a perfect game in Major League Baseball, yet only 23 have accomplished the feat. Then again, maybe we should consider the number 24 to include former Detroit Tigers arm Armando Galarraga.
On June 2, 2010, against the Cleveland Indians, Galarraga had sent down 26 consecutive batters, and he induced a ground ball that appeared would cap an unblemished night.
But after running to cover first base, reeling in a throw from Miguel Cabrera and beating Cleveland’s Jason Donald to the bag, Galarraga watched as umpire Jim Joyce negated the achievement.
In Joyce’s defense, it was a tremendously close play. Nevertheless, the veteran umpire knew he had messed up something potentially special. From the Associated Press via ESPN:
“It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the [stuff] out of it,” Joyce said, looking and sounding distraught as he paced in the umpires’ locker room. “I just cost that kid a perfect game.”
A still photo shows the mere feet that separated Galarraga and Donald:
Five years ago today Jim Joyce said this, "I just cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game." pic.twitter.com/lEPK4eaznm
— Michigan Sports Guy (@MIsportsguy) June 2, 2015
Galarraga’s final year as a full-time starter ended after that season, and he faded out of the league by 2012. Joyce, a well-known umpire before that call and even more so after, remains an MLB umpire.
Photo: USA Today Sports