This past Wednesday something incredible was happening. A major league pitcher was on his way to a perfect game. This is a feat that has only happened 20 times since 1900, but this would have been the third perfect game this season.
As the 27th batter stood at the plate, the stadium surely held their breath in anticipation of being a part of baseball history. The event that followed has been replayed over and over again since that evening, because a blown call led to the play being ruled a single instead of an out. The perfect game was lost.
What’s truly remarkable about this whole series of events is what didn’t happen after the call at first base. The pitcher (who’d been the one to make the catch at first) smiled and returned to the mound. There was no loud outburst from the manager, the kind of spectacle we so often associate with a blown call.
After the game, when the umpire who made the call saw tape of the play. He owned up to his mistake, and personally went to the locker room to apologize to the pitcher. At post-game press conferences when the media was surely looking for anger, the player and manager were calm and collected.
The next afternoon, when the umpire was given the opportunity to skip the game and avoid the wrath of the fans, he decided to return to the field. The pitcher delivered the lineups, and in front of the entire stadium shook hands with the umpire.
This is sportsmanship. This is what we ought to teach our children.
Armando Galarraga, Jim Leyland and Jim Joyce. These men get it.
This may not have been a perfect game by the definition, but it’s certainly something even better. It’s the perfect expression of America’s pastime.