On June 2, Armando Galarraga was on the verge of pitching a perfect game, a feat that has been accomplished only 20 times in Major League Baseball history. Jason Donald, who should have been the final batter, hit a ground ball to first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera tossed the ball to Galarraga, who stepped on the bag at first. A perfect game. Except for one fact: Umpire James Joyce called Donald safe. It was a bad call--a really bad call.
We can learn a lot from this situation:
- Realize that your mistakes affect others. It's just a fact of life. Joyce made a decision that cost Galarraga a rare place in statistical history.
- Own up to your mistakes. Joyce did this. Once he saw the replay in the locker room, he knew how badly he messed up. Instead of trying to cover himself, he owned up to making a bad call.
- Be gracious to those whose mistakes hurt you. Immediately after the call, Galarraga didn't argue with Joyce. He didn't even say a word. He simply smiled. (I remembered George Brett going ballistic during the famous "Pine Tar" incident.) Then he took the ball and returned to the mound to continue the game. The next day, Galarraga graciously took the lineup card to a tearful Joyce, who was the home plate umpire for that game.
I love what Galarraga said told the press: "Nobody is perfect. Inside of my heart, I don't have any problem."