Published September 10, 2010
Joyce worked the plate for Detroit's 6-3 loss to Baltimore on Friday night, the first time the umpire called a game with the pitcher since the near-perfect game on June 2.
On that night, Galarraga retired the first 26 batters, and appeared to have finished the perfect game on a grounder by Cleveland's Jason Donald.
Joyce, though, called Donald safe, a call he tearfully acknowledged to be wrong shortly after the game. He then made a trip to the Tigers clubhouse to apologize to Galarraga.
Joyce received applause from the Comerica Park crowd when he was introduced before Friday's game. He said the butterflies didn't go away until after Galarraga retired the side in order in the first inning.
"That was probably the second-hardest plate job of my life for the first three outs," Joyce said, comparing it to the game he called in Detroit the day after his mistake. "After those three outs, though, I felt like I could go back to being Jim Joyce the umpire."
Joyce said he only spoke to Galarraga to tell him when he was on his last warmup pitch before each inning.
"There's enough pressure on us without doing anything special today," he said. "He did his job, and I tried to do mine."
The pair publicly reconciled the afternoon after Joyce's blunder, when Tigers manager Jim Leyland surprised the umpire by sending Galarraga to the plate with the lineup card. The pair hugged — a gesture that caused Joyce to tear up again. Joyce and Galarraga had one highly publicized meeting this summer, when they teamed up to present an award at the ESPYs.
That's why, like Joyce, Galarraga downplayed the emotions of Friday's game.
"I understand the hype — it was crazy what happened — but he's going to be behind the plate for me many, many more times," Galarraga said after getting a no-decision in Detroit's 6-3 loss. "I don't want to make it a big deal, and I'm sure he doesn't. He showed today that he is a professional — one of the best in the game."
The day's only sour note came before the game, when Joyce apologized while telling media members that he had been told by Major League Baseball not to give interviews unless a request had been approved by the league office.
During the game, MLB spokesman Michael Teevan said in an e-mail that Joyce was free to speak after the game if he chose to, and the 54-year-old made himself available shortly after the final out.