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"I took something away from him," Joyce says, "and if I could, I would give it back in a minute. He just looked at me and hugged me, and I couldn't talk after that. My emotions got away from me."
Says Galarraga, "He tried to talk. He'd say a couple of words. 'You were perfect, I was not.' I felt so bad. I didn't feel bad for me. I felt bad for him."
Leyland, who grew up in Perrysburg, Ohio, in the shadow of Toledo, heard from reporters about Joyce's anguish and bolted for the umpires' room. "He just busted in," Joyce says, "and said, 'C'mon, kid. We're going to have a beer together. It's unfortunate that it happened, but we're going to move on.'"
In the first few hours after the game Joyce was threatened with physical harm through comments to his grown children's social-networking accounts. (Major League Baseball ordered security personnel to keep surveillance the next day at Joyce's home in Oregon and his mother's home.) But as word spread of Joyce's admission, apology and anguish, he and Galarraga became shining examples of sportsmanship and forgiveness.
The next day Joyce was greeted with applause at Comerica Park as Galarraga, who minutes earlier had been awarded a red Corvette by General Motors, handed the ump Detroit's lineup card. Joyce was moved to tears. And he was greeted warmly by everyone he encountered at the Detroit airport the next day when he flew to Philadelphia for his next series.
"All positive," Joyce says. "A police officer, with his police dog, stuck his hand out and said, 'Thank you.' The police officer is out there every day with his life on the line, and he's thanking me? My job is just to uphold the integrity of the game, call ball or strike, safe or out, and try to be 100 percent right."
Technology, especially the ubiquity of multiple high-definition replays, is breathing hotly down the neck of major league umpires. As Joyce noted, the game of baseball has not changed, but the scrutiny has intensified. Veteran umpire Tim McClelland, who was in the public crosshairs last October for questionable calls that he made during the postseason, responded to the Joyce mistake by supporting expanded use of replay. Joyce himself declined to take a position, except to say, "I'll just let what Tim McClelland said stand."
Says Padres manager Bud Black, "I'm a traditionalist who's been against it. But I've come around to think we need it. The technology just has gotten too good to ignore."
If Joyce provided a tipping point toward baseball's embracing more technology, the irony is that baseball never seemed so human and empathetic as it did in the aftermath of his blunder. It turns out that Joyce and Galarraga are baseball ambassadors more alike than different. Both are baseball lifers by way of Toledo, with the scars to prove it and the parenting that made possible such grace in response to adversity.
Galarraga took the ball on June 2 with a career record in pro ball of 51--55. He had thrown for 12 teams in three organizations, beginning with the Expos, who in 1998 signed him for $3,000 out of Venezuela at age 16. Galarraga has had surgeries on his pitching elbow and shoulder, been traded while on his honeymoon and was the first starter cut this spring training in a competition for Detroit's fifth rotation spot. But when the winner of that competition, Dontrelle Willis, faltered, the Tigers called up Galarraga on May 16—from Triple A Toledo, not far from Ellouise Joyce's house.