Umpire Jim Joyce won’t work any Arizona Diamondbacks games this season because he and the team’s Armando Galarraga wrote a book about the pitcher’s almost-perfect game last season.
Galarraga lost the perfect game on June 2, 2010, when Joyce, as the first-base umpire, blew a call on what video replays showed should have been the final out. Joyce acknowledged after the game that he made a mistake and apologized to Galarraga, who would have become the 21st pitcher in Major League Baseball history to retire all 27 batters he faced in order.
The two collaborated with Daniel Paisner to write “Nobody’s Perfect: Two Men, One Call, and a Game for Baseball History” (Atlantic Monthly Press, 246 pages, $24), which will be released June 2, the one-year anniversary of the blown call. Because the book project is a potential conflict of interest, Joyce won’t be an umpire in any game involving Galarraga or the Diamondbacks, according to Brian Lam, general counsel for the World Umpires Association, the umpires’ union.
“Jim Joyce, the World Umpires Association and Major League Baseball all agree that for appearances sake, Jim should not be working any games involving Armando Galarraga or his team this season,” Lam said in a telephone interview.
Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney declined to comment.
Baseball’s umpiring schedule is determined at the start of the season and Lam said there were two Diamondbacks’ games that Joyce would have worked. He was assigned to other games, according to Lam.
Jodie Hockensmith, a spokeswoman for Atlantic Monthly Press, the book’s publisher, said in a telephone interview that she didn’t have any information on any advance Joyce, Galarraga and Paisner received.
Joyce will donate all proceeds from book sales to UmpsCare, a non-profit group established by umpires to provide financial and emotional support for needy youth and families, the publisher said in a news release.
There’s precedent for an umpire not working in certain major-league games. Jim Wolf doesn’t work behind home plate anytime his older brother Randy Wolf of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches.
Galarraga joined Arizona in the offseason after spending the previous three seasons with the Detroit Tigers. The 29-year-old right-hander has a 3-2 record with a 5.46 earned run average in five starts this season.
Joyce, 55, has been a major-league umpire since 1987 and has worked games in both the American and National leagues since 2000. He was rated the game’s best umpire in an ESPN poll of 100 major-league players last year that was taken after the mistaken call.
Galarraga retired 26 straight batters before Jason Donald of the Cleveland Indians hit a ground ball with two outs in the ninth inning. Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera fielded it and tossed it to Galarraga, who had the ball in his glove and his foot on the bag ahead of the runner.
Galarraga started to raise his hands in celebration when Joyce ruled Donald safe.
“I just cost that kid a perfect game,” a tearful Joyce told reporters. When asked about Joyce’s call after the game, Galarraga said, “Nobody’s perfect.”
The book details the life stories of Galarraga and Joyce while offering their insights into the game that linked their names. It also details reaction from other players, managers, fans and sportswriters, and the support Galarraga and Joyce received from family, friends and strangers.