You’ve heard about it by now, right? Armando Galarraga, a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, was pitching a perfect game last night in Detroit against the Cleveland Indians. He was only one out away from making baseball history when Jason Donald of the Indians hit a soft ground ball to first baseman, Miquel Cabrera. Cabrera fielded the ball and threw to Galarraga who was covering first. The ball arrived in time. Galaragga caught it and stepped on the bag ahead of Donald for the final out and a perfect game.
Except it wasn’t.
First base umpire, Jim Joyce, called the runner “safe.” The ruling was an infield hit. Not only did Galarraga lose his perfect game (which would have been only the 21st in baseball history and the first in the long history of the Detroit Tigers), but he also lost a no-hitter. An umpire’s mistake had cost him a place in baseball legend. But the really important part of the story happened afterwards. When he caught the ball and stepped on the bag, Galarraga thought, for a split second, he had the perfect game — then he saw the umpire’s “safe” signal. And then . . . . he smiled.
That’s right. You read it correctly. Armando Galarraga, who had just been robbed of a place in baseball history by the mistaken call of an umpire, smiled.
Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanki tells us about it:
As soon as Joyce made the call, the camera cut to Galarraga. And he smiled. That’s all. No argument. No theater. No wild waving of arms. No, he just smiled, a smile that seemed to say: “Are you sure? I really hope you are sure.” . . . in that moment when he had a perfect game so unfairly taken away from him, he smiled. In the interview after the game, he simply said that he wasn’t sure about the call but he was proud of his game. When told afterward that Joyce felt terrible about the missed call, Galarraga said that he wanted to go tell Joyce not to worry about it, that people make mistakes. . . .
. . . The way he handled himself after the game, well, that was something better than perfection. Dallas Braden’s perfect game was thrilling. Roy Halladay’s perfect game was art. But Armando’s Galarraga’s perfect game was a lesson in grace.
It was. Afterwards, Jim Joyce got to look at the replay and realized how wrong he had been. And he did something unusual as well. He went to Armando Galarraga and apologized for missing the call and ruining his perfect game. Galarraga told reporters, “he [Joyce] was crying, he really feel bad. He probably feel more bad than me.” And he quietly forgave the man who ruined his opportunity to make history. No anger. No self-pity. No whining. Armando Galarraga responded like a man. And so did Jim Joyce. Both gave us a lesson in grace.
And the lesson is an easy one, though we are prone to forget it. Here it is: When you mess up. Confess it. Don’t blame anybody else. Don’t make excuses. Own up to it. Admit it. And ask forgiveness.
And here’s the second part of the lesson: when someone wrongs you and then confesses it and seeks your forgiveness, forgive him.
Jim Joyce asked forgiveness and Armando Galarraga forgave him.
There are some things more important than having your name in the record books and being celebrated and honored by men. Seeking forgiveness and being willing to forgive are two of those things.
Thanks for the reminder guys.