NYT – MLB Umpire’s bad call ruins would-be 21st perfect game in history

When history is in your grasp, the easy thing to do is embrace it. With two outs in the ninth inning in Detroit on Wednesday, the first-base umpire, Jim Joyce, could have called the Cleveland Indians’ Jason Donald out on a close play at first base. Make a fist, raise a forearm, and Armando Galarraga becomes the 21st pitcher — and third in the last four weeks — to throw a perfect game.

The courageous call is the one Joyce made. It was so obviously wrong that Joyce, a major league umpire since 1989, clearly had no desire to help Galarraga make history. He simply called the play as he saw it. The problem, of course, is that Joyce’s decision is easily the most egregious blown call in baseball over the last 25 years.

The last call that was so important and so horribly botched was in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, when another first-base umpire, Don Denkinger, called Jorge Orta of the Kansas City Royals safe at first. Replays showed that St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Todd Worrell had touched the bag, with ball in hand, before Orta reached base. Three outs from clinching a title, the Cardinals fell apart and lost the World Series the next night.

New York Times
6/2/10