Galarraga set down 26 straight Indians Wednesday night and stood one out away from the third perfect game of 2010 when he got shortstop Jason Donald to ground a slow roller to first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Galarraga rushed to cover first, received the throw from Cabrera and touched the bag.
Joyce called Donald safe, but video replays clearly showed Galarraga had beaten Donald to the bag.
A full-time umpire since 1989, Joyce admitted his mistake after the game.
"I just cost that kid a perfect game," he said. "I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.
"It was the biggest call of my career."
Galarraga briefly raised his arms in celebration before receiving the bad news. He got the next hitter, outfielder Trevor Crowe, on a grounder to third base, ending the game, but the fireworks were only beginning in Detroit.
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A number of Tigers players and coaches, including manager Jim Leyland, went after Joyce on the field at Comerica Park once the game ended.
"Emotions were running high for everybody and I think that's why the guys were emotional after the game," Leyland said. "I wish we wouldn't have been, but we were. But I think it's understandable in that case. That's a pretty sacred thing, something like that."
"I don't blame them a bit or anything that was said," Joyce said. "I would've said it myself if I had been Galarraga. I would've been the first person in my face, and he never said a word to me."
Ever gracious, Galarraga forgave Joyce after the game, telling reporters he gave the umpire a hug when he came to see him.
"He really feels bad," Galarraga said of Joyce. "He probably feels more bad than me. Nobody is perfect. I give a lot of credit to that guy. [An apology] doesn't happen. He apologized. He feels really bad. Nobody is perfect. What am I gonna do? His eyes were watering and he didnt have to say much. His body language said a lot."
Leyland, despite his protests immediately after the final out, echoed Galarraga and praised the overall body of Joyce's work in the big leagues.
"That's the nature of the business, that's just the way it is. The players are human, the umpires are human, the managers are human, the writers are human," the Detroit manager said. "We all make mistakes. It's a crying shame. Jimmy's a real good umpire, has been for a long time. He probably got it wrong.
Said Galarraga of his brush with history/date with infamy: "I know myself I threw [a perfect game]."
At least one person, it seems, agrees with him. Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm issued an unofficial proclamation on her Twitter page giving Galarraga the perfect game.