Since 1880, only 23 pitchers have done it. Only 23 men have pitched a perfect game. A perfect game is when there are 27 men up and 27 men out with none of them reaching base. But truthfully that number should be 24 men who have pitched a perfect game.
On the night of June 2, 2010, Armando Galarraga was perfect through 8 2/3 innings. The stadium was electric as Cleveland’s Jason Donald came to the plate. Donald slapped a sharp grounder into the hole between first and second base. It’s an easy play, one professionals can execute in their sleep. While the first baseman fields the ball, the pitcher runs over to first and the first baseman tosses him the ball for an easy out.
It went exactly the same way on June 2, too. Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera fielded the ball cleanly. Galarraga was in position. Donald is fast, so there wasn’t a lot of time, but Galarraga beat him to the bag, ball in his glove, by at least a step. All the replays showed it. And first-base umpire Jim Joyce was right there, in perfect position to make the “out” call and touch off a celebration.
“It was the biggest call of my career,” Joyce would say shortly after the game. And he blew it.
“I just cost that kid a perfect game,” Joyce said tearfully in the umpires’ locker room later. Joyce thought Donald beat the throw; that’s all there is to it. He sees the same replays as everyone else does now, and knows he missed the call. But when it happened, he seems to have truly thought that Donald beat the throw. Maybe it was the way he was standing, the angle at which he was looking at the play, but he says he was “convinced” that the baserunner was safe.
It’s hard to be perfect. Ask Armando Galarraga. Ask Jim Joyce, if you need to. But I’m guessing you don’t need to. You already know, don’t you?
But in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commands us, “…to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Hard to believe isn’t it? But it has to be true. After all, Jesus wouldn’t tell us to be perfect if we couldn’t attain it, would He? Maybe Jesus believes in us more than we believe in ourselves . . .