NEW YORK (AP) — Umpire Jim Joyce, who blew a call that cost a Detroit pitcher a perfect game, says he's grateful for all of the support he's gotten since his blunder.
From the White House to the State Department to the ballparks to casual fans, Joyce and Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga have been praised for their sportsmanship in the aftermath of Wednesday's call.
"Dealing with the public has been fantastic. I walked into the Detroit airport today and people were patting me on the back. I had a police officer say, 'Thank you.' I said, 'No, thank you.' This guy puts his life on the line every day. I call balls and strikes. Those are the people you should thank. The support has been phenomenal," Joyce said Friday night in Philadelphia.
Joyce drew slight boos when the umpire crew was introduced before the San Diego-Phillies game. He teared up again during a 15-minute interview at Citizens Bank Park, prior to working at third base.
"I was expecting the dark side, what am I going to do with my family?" he said. "It hasn't happened. It happened for a couple of hours on Wednesday night, then all of a sudden everything flipped. I couldn't be more thankful that it did. The biggest thing in my life is my family and I'm so grateful that this has turned to the positive."
"I believe this happened for a reason," Joyce said. "I'm trying to figure out what that reason is, but I think it's playing out. This isn't talking about baseball. It's honesty, sportsmanship, how we portray each other. Those are all good things. None of this was intended. It just happened."
Joyce mistakenly called Cleveland's Jason Donald safe at first base on what would've been the final out. While many Tigers argued, Galarraga merely smiled at his misfortune at went back to the mound.
"I have replayed that play so many times, my head hurts," Joyce said. "All I can see is Armando Galarraga's face. He didn't say a word to me. I can see his face and him not saying anything. When that happens, you think you're right."
Replays later showed he missed the call, and Joyce admitted he blew it.
He was devastated, and apologized to Galarraga in person and hugged him after the Tigers' 3-0 win. Galarraga was also supportive, saying he respected Joyce for apologizing and admitting his mistake.
Joyce said he received support from former umpire Don Denkinger, who missed a similar call in the 1985 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals. Joyce declined to elaborate on his feelings for renewed calls for enhanced instant replay, saying he would defer to the commissioner's office.