On June 2, 2010, Armando Galarraga pitched 8 perfect innings but lost the perfect game on the 27th batter after what was ruled an infield hit. Indians rookie Jason Donald hit a ground ball to first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who tossed to Galarraga – covering first base – but first base umpire Jim Joyce incorrectly called Donald safe on a close play, ending Galarraga’s chance to go into the history books that day as baseball’s 21st perfect game.
Galarraga, a 28-year-old native of Venezuela, amazed fans of the game everywhere with his cool-headed reaction to the catastrophic error. He simply walked back to the mound and completed the game, striking out the next batter.
When a tearful Joyce directly apologized to Galarraga after the game, the pitcher’s response was to offer a hug and comment, “Nobody’s perfect.”
At that time, Galarraga, had been with the Tigers for three years, and began that season in the minors. He was called up just a few weeks before the historic game. He is currently playing for the Chinatrust Brother Elephants of the Chinese Pro Baseball league in Taiwan.
The Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame, inspired by the uncommon show of restraint, professionalism and humanity by Armando Galarraga, was moved to create the annual “Do Right” Award and name Galarraga as the inaugural winner.
The award recognizes his “exemplary sportsmanlike conduct.” We also applaud the umpire’s actions when he realized his mistake, immediately owning up to the error and offering sincere apologies.
One of the most inspiring quotes attributed to Coach Holtz is, “Do Right. Do the best you can,” and “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” In fact, the wristbands given as souvenirs to school students on Hall of Fame field trips bear the reminder to “Do Right.” In the world of sports, or any career field, it’s rare to find a good example of that plan put into action. Galarraga, faced with the extreme frustration of another human being’s simple but painful mistake, did not do the easy thing or even the most natural thing, but he certainly did the RIGHT thing.