Armando Galarraga’s perfect game was going to be another piece of baseball immortality that would dismantle whatever is left of the sport’s famous “steroid era” and usher in a new period of pitching dominance.
This would be true, if not for the fact that it technically never happened.
In one of the biggest travesties in sports history, a young Detroit Tigers pitcher who was being bounced around the major and minor leagues had an opportunity to create history—for baseball, his organization, himself.
Galarraga went on the mound to begin the ninth inning, only to throw a very hittable first pitch that was wailed into deep center field. The Yankee-turned-Tiger Austin Jackson ran like Usain Bolt and made a Willie Mays-like catch to preserve the perfect game. It was almost as if fate was on Galarraga’s side.
After an easy groundout, baseball immortality was one batter away.
Jason Donald stepped up to the plate. The fans at Comerica Park believed they were going to witness the first ever perfect game by a Detroit Tigers player, as well as the third perfect game in 23 days. This had to be the night, everyone watching around the country thought.
Donald’s ground ball between first and second base led first baseman Miguel Cabrera off the bag and made Galarraga hustle to first to make the play. The throw was there, Galarraga was there, and Donald seemed out.
First base umpire Jim Joyce—an umpire in the big leagues since 1989—called Donald safe and instantly made himself the most scrutinized official in the United States.
If only it was a perfect world, then Galarraga would have a perfect game.
I’m sure you’ve seen the play by now, probably multiple times and different angles of it. It was a situation in which the wrong call was made, and that is what the game will be known for in the coming decades.
That’s what really hurts. Galarraga knows he got a perfect game and even said he will always think of it as a perfect game, but to have a spot in history—and in Cooperstown—is something truly special.
The game will be remembered for the wrong call being made, rather than the perfect game that actually happened. That in itself is a shame.
Luckily for those who witnessed it, we will have a different lasting image in our minds.
Originally published on SportsLeak.com. Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Sports