what really happened with the blown call

So. If you like sports you are going to know exactly what I am writing about.

The blown call on the last play (ok. what actually turned out to be the next to last play) of the Tigers baseball game last night which cost the pitcher the 21st perfect game of ALL time.

galarraga missed callThe blown call. Umpires refer to the play as a “banger.” Ball and runner reaching base at close to the same time … and this one got trickier because the 1st baseman got pulled off and the pitcher (who was in the process of throwing a perfect game) was covering the bag.

The pitcher got there. He got the throw. He got his foot on the bag. And he beat the runner by maybe a half a step.


This post isn’t about the blown call (because everyone is going to start blustering about the mistake and changing the review process and umpires are idiots and whatever).

This post is about character.

This post is about respect.

This post is about understanding what it means to be a good person.

First. Jim Joyce. The umpire. “I take pride in the game and what I do and I blew a perfect game for that kid. My job is to get it right and I didn’t. I blew it.”

The guy who made the mistake stood up and accepted the blame. And even more impactful than accepting the blame (unequivocally I may add) the amount of emotion he shared with regard to how he talked about the impact on the pitcher was communicated with grace and incredible heartfelt remorse. He understood that his mistake wasn’t about any impact on him but rather on someone else.

Even though he made the mistake the way he stood up and handled it made you feel for him. He understood it ultimately wasn’t about him.

That is character. Character of a giant.

In a world where it seems people are so hesitant to accept blame this is a case study for what it should be like.

Second. Ah. And then the pitcher.

I hope every kid in America was watching.

Armando Galarraga from Venezuela is a 28 year old pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. Galarraga made his debut in 2007.  In this game Galarraga nearly became the 21st pitcher to throw a perfect game — he pitched 8.2 perfect innings, but lost the perfect game (and no hitter) after an infield hit by the 27th batter. In his “one hitter” Galarraga threw a mere 88 pitches, 67 of them for strikes. If he had completed the perfect game, it would have been the lowest number of pitches thrown since Addie Joss’ 74 pitches in 1908 and the shortest game since Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965.


Let me be clear. This kid pitched an awesome game.

He knew it. And, on this one play, this one moment, he was on the cusp of a personal and professional high. I cannot even come close to imagining the over the top emotions exploding in his head as he made that one play and felt he had the perfect game in hand.

What happened at that moment is a case study.

The umpire. “Gallaraga didn’t say a word to me.”

He didn’t yell.

He didn’t rant.

He didn’t have a tantrum.

He smirked in disbelief. Took the new ball. Went to the mound and got the last out to get his one hitter.

And after the game he says:

“No one is perfect. People make mistakes. What are you gonna do?”

(reminder: this is after he lost a perfect … again … a perfect game)

Okay. Every coach across America should be showing this film clip to every kid they have on a team.

The grace with which he accepted his fate AND his ability to immediately get his shit together and finish the job … well … I can only tip my hat to the maturity of this 28 year old.

Mistakes happen. People are human.

Shit happens. People have to deal with it.

Unbelievable example of how to handle mistakes & shit. There are so many life lesson in this little moment I am not sure i can list them all.

More so than any learning we may have on “how to avoid (what is part of being human) mistakes” this is learning on how to handle life with character. So. While people will yell and scream and demand the umpire get fired (which is just plain silly) don’t overlook what really happened.

Written by Bruce