TODAY   |  June 03, 2010

Umpire costs pitcher a perfect game

Armando Galarraga, a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, was one out away from a perfect game when a missed call by umpire Jim Joyce snatched the rare feat from him. TODAY’s Matt Lauer takes a look.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

MATT LAUER, co-host: And now to the baseball blunder that a lot of people are talking about this morning, an almost perfect ending to what would have been only the 21st perfect game in major league history until an umpire blew a call on the last out of the game. Take a look.

Baseball Announcer: And a swing and a high fly ball toward left center field. Jackson is on the run, still going...

LAUER: The ninth inning began with a spectacular catch. At the time, it seemed like a sign of a perfect night for Armando Galarraga .

Baseball Announcer: Oh, my goodness. Been that kind of night for Armando Galarraga .

LAUER: With two outs in the ninth, the Detroit right-hander was just one out away from pitching a perfect game .

Baseball Announcer: Ground ball, right side. Cabrera will cut it off. Galarraga covers. He's out! No, he's safe. He is safe.

LAUER: It was a very close call . Umpire Jim Joyce called the runner safe. The perfect game , gone. But soon, replay after replay showed the runner was out.

Baseball Announcer #2: Oh, my goodness, Jim Joyce , no.

Baseball Announcer #1: Oh, my goodness. Oh, gee.

LAUER: Galarraga 's chance at history, gone. All he could do was smile.

Mr. ARMANDO GALARRAGA (Detroit Tigers Pitcher): I think it's nervous thing, though. So nervous I smiled. Because you see our play, I was nervous.

But......happy I smile.

LAUER: When the game was over, Tiger 's manager Jim Leyland gave Joyce a piece of his mind.

Mr. JIM LEYLAND (Detroit Tigers Manager): I yelled a little bit after the game because the emotions are high and, you know, like I said, we had the luxury of the replay. So that's a little unfair. But, you know, you just want it so bad for the kid. But that's, you know, that's the nature of the business. We all make mistakes.

LAUER: In the locker room, the Tigers players watched the replays, Galarraga still smiling. What he didn't know was that the umpire was watching the replays too, and in colorful language told reporters in a radio interview he'd blown the call.

Mr. JIM JOYCE: I missed it. I missed it. This isn't a call, this is a

history call, and I kicked the......out of it. And there's nobody that feels worse than I do. I take pride in this job and I

kicked the......out of that and I took a perfect game

away from that kid over there that worked all night.

LAUER: After looking at the replay, Joyce also had a private meeting with Galarraga , apologizing for costing the pitcher his perfect game .

Mr. GALARRAGA: I give you some -- a lot of credit to that guy for telling me, `Hey, I need to talk to you because I really say I'm sorry.' And he apologized and he feel really bad. His eyes water and he don't have to say much.


LAUER: Hm. You know, I think it's a horrible situation.


LAUER: It's sad for Galarraga . But if your kids are watching, it's a great lesson. A, the umpire took responsibility...

VIEIRA: Right.

LAUER: ...came right out and said, `I blew it.' And boy, what grace Galarraga showed in accepting that apology.

VIEIRA: Could the commissioner step in here if he wanted to and say...

LAUER: Yeah. Commissioners can do a lot of things. I just think it would open up a huge can of worms.


LAUER: Then you'd have people going back and reviewing, you know, third strike calls and ball four calls and all these situations.

VIEIRA: But why are you opposed to instant replay in baseball?

LAUER: I like instant replay for home runs because it's so complicated, you got a lot of angles, people simply can't see. But you start doing instant replays on calls like -- that umpires make on a routine basis...


LAUER: The games are already three and a half hours long. You're going to have six -- it's -- I'm not in favor of it.