The Almost Perfect Game


Armando Galarraga pitches during a game
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A man loses a great honor because of another person’s mistake. Liz Waid and David Bast tell this touching story of forgiveness.

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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight.  I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m David Bast.  Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Imagine you are about to achieve something great.  But just before it happens, someone else makes a mistake. Because of the mistake, you do not reach your goal. How would you feel?  How would you react? What would you say to the person who made the mistake?

Voice 2 

Now think about the other side of the story.  What if you were the person who made the mistake?  How would you feel?  What would you do?  Would you admit your mistake or try to hide it?

Voice 1 

Now imagine all of this happened in front of thousands of people. And millions of people also watched it on television. How would it affect your life?

Voice 2 

A situation like this did happen. It happened to baseball player Armando Galarraga. Galarraga was about to achieve something very rare in the sport of baseball.  He was about to play a "perfect game.” But Jim Joyce, a baseball official, made a mistake. And this mistake cost Galarraga a great honor. Today’s Spotlight is on the story of Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce.

Voice 1 

The rules of baseball are complex. But the basic idea is simple. A player from one team throws a baseball. This player is the pitcher. He throws the ball to a player on the other team. This player is the batter. The batter tries to hit the ball with a bat - a long thin piece of wood. After the batter hits the ball, he runs and tries to touch four bases. If he touches all four bases, he earns a run, or point, for his team.

Voice 2 

But, a batter’s first goal is to get to first base. When he hits the ball he runs as fast as he can to touch first base. The pitcher’s team tries to catch the ball and get it to first base before the batter gets there. If the ball gets to first base before the batter then the batter is out. However, if the batter can get to first base before the ball, he is safe! An umpire, or official, decides if the batter is safe or out.

Voice 1 

On June 2, 2010 two Major League Baseball teams were playing an exciting game. The game was almost finished. Jim Joyce was the umpire at first base. And Armando Galarraga was a pitcher for one of the baseball teams. Galarraga was about to pitch a “perfect game". For a pitcher, this is a rare achievement.

Voice 2 

To earn a perfect game, the pitcher and his team must keep all of the other team’s batters from reaching first base. This may sound simple. But teams have been playing Major League baseball for 135 years. In that time, Major League teams have played over 300,000 games. But there have only been 20 perfect games.

Voice 1 

On that night in June of 2010, Armando Galarraga only needed one more out. He was about to earn the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history.  The next few seconds were intense. Jason Donald was the batter. Galarraga pitched the ball to Donald. Donald hit the ball. Galarraga moved quickly to get Donald out. Galarraga got the ball. He touched first base. But so did Donald. Jim Joyce, the umpire, quickly decided Donald was “safe". But thousands of people were watching the game. And many of them disagreed with Joyce. The crowd was angry. They shouted at Joyce. Many of the baseball players shouted at Joyce too.

Voice 2 

But Galarraga had a different reaction. He did not get angry. He did not shout. He only smiled. Galarraga knew the game was not over. He still needed to get one more batter out to end the game. Galarraga pitched to the next batter. Galarraga’s team got the batter out at first base. The game was now over. But people continued shouting at Joyce.

Voice 1 

Joyce’s decision ruined Galarraga’s perfect game. But Joyce was sure he had made the right decision. Many sports permit umpires to watch recordings of important events like this as the game happens. They can watch the event again. Then they can change their ruling if they need to. But Major League Baseball does not permit this.

Voice 2 

After the game was over, Joyce left the field. He went into the umpires’ room. Joyce watched the recording of the game on television. It was close. But Galarraga had clearly touched first base before Donald. Joyce was wrong! When Joyce saw his mistake, he began to cry.

Voice 1 

Galarraga had pitched a perfect game. But Joyce’s original ruling was final. It could not be changed. There was no perfect game.

Voice 2 

Joyce felt terrible. He asked if he could talk to Galarraga. This was very unusual. Umpires rarely talk to players after a game. But Joyce wanted to apologize. A few minutes later, Galarraga entered the umpires’ room. Joyce began crying again. Galarraga could have been angry or even violent. Reporter Amy Nelson observed Galarraga and Joyce together. She wrote that instead, Galarraga put his arms around Joyce. And Galarraga said,

Voice 3

“We are all human.”

Voice 1 

After this, Joyce continued to cry and apologize to Galarraga. Galarraga later told the Fox Sports news organization,

Voice 3 

“No one is perfect. Everyone is human. I understand. I respect him a lot for saying ‘I am sorry’. You do not see umpires saying ‘I am sorry’ after games.”

Voice 2 

Joyce also admitted his mistake to news reporters.  He told them:

Voice 4

“I just cost that young man a perfect game,”

Voice 1 

People felt what had happened to Armando Galarraga was not fair. But people noticed the actions of both Galarraga and Joyce. The next day, there was another game. Galarraga and his team were playing. And Joyce was supposed to be an umpire. What would happen between the men? And how would the people watching the game act?

Voice 2 

On June 3rd, Jim Joyce walked on to the field. Before the game, Galarraga met him there. The two men shook hands like friends. It was clear that Galarraga had forgiven Joyce. The crowd cheered for both of them. A day earlier, television cameras had recorded Joyce’s mistake. Now they recorded Galarraga’s forgiveness.

The writer of this program was Jeff Munroe. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find our programs on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘The Almost Perfect Game’.

Voice 1 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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Question:

Have you ever made a big mistake that influenced someone else? Has someone ever made a big mistake that influenced you?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Vomax
said on January 10, 2012

It is a touching story, baseball game is almost unknow in Italy but this program have clearly explain the basic rules. Now I can see a game and understand it.

Many thanks and best regards.

Max

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kenhieuloilam
said on January 12, 2012

We try much to do good things. We could make mistakes or someone else could make mistakes. We want good things. We want fairness. Mistakes make us sad. We do not know something would happen. We want to get good things. We want to do good things. We aim to good things.

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Narath
said on January 16, 2012

After I read this story I felt deep understand about Jim Joyce’s feeling . He made a mistake with unwillingness and more over he admitted his mistake so forgiveness of Galarraga to him is quite right. I think that most of people should get forgiveness if they admit their mistakes . Narath , Cambodia

Dzung.vn's avatar
Dzung.vn
said on February 22, 2013

Both of Galarraga and Joyce were also perfect men, although they did not have a perfect game. One person did not reach his goal because the other people’s mistake. However, Their actions show us that how they are wonderful people! Thank Spotlight, You not only give me a useful story but also present basic knowledge about the baseball.

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on February 22, 2013

Hi all
I think that pardon went the answer correct in this situation.
Is dificult, but necessary in the life.
Thanks Spotlight
Manta-Ecuador

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Jack S
said on February 24, 2013

This story is like a great lesson for me now. Forgiveness makes the life better.

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Sparrow koo
said on June 10, 2015

Thanks to spotlight for touching story.
I think forgiveness is hard.
But To admit own fault and apologize are really hard than forgiveness.
I hope that i should have courage to forgive someone who had a mistakes to me.
And i hope that i should have courage to apologize someone who had a damage because of me.

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hermit peter
said on July 06, 2017

i think that mistake means it was so big to change life of others. i believe i had not do so great things.
for the story, i am proud of the pittcher, next moment he would achieved the summit in his career, but umpire’s mistake destroy or cost his record. but he smiled intead of being angry. so great.