“Nobody’s Perfect: Two Men, One Call and a Game for Baseball History” by Armando Galarraga, Jim Joyce and Daniel Paisner
Baseball, history, Tigers, umpires, memoir
June 2, 1011
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Most baseball fans will recall the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians on June 2, 2010. Armando Galarraga, a relatively unknown pitcher who was trying to make an impression in his third organization, was mowing down Cleveland batters with relative ease. He didn’t allow the first 26 batters to get on base. Now with two out in the ninth inning, the last Indians hitter, Jason Donald, hits a grounder to first base. Miguel Cabrera fields it cleanly, tosses to Galarraga who appears to beat Donald to the bag…but umpire Jim Joyce calls the runner safe. There is disbelief everywhere in the ballpark. Cabrera is screaming that the runner is out, Tigers manager Jim Leyland is running out to discuss the play with Joyce, and the fans are letting Joyce have it for the bad call. However, one of the lasting images of that play is Galarraga is actually SMILING when he is walking back to the mound to face the next batter.
The story of that smile, the sadness in Joyce when he goes back to the locker room and realizes that he missed the call, and the background of both men involved are woven together in a terrific book that is put together by Daniel Paisner. It is well known that Joyce requested a meeting with Galarraga after the game when things calmed down to apologize and that Galarraga graciously accepted. What isn’t as well known is that the two men, with very different backgrounds, actually took similar paths to get where they were in baseball at that time when fate brought them together.
The book is told in the first person of both men, with each chapter alternating between Galarraga and Joyce. The different styles of the two men when speaking are quite clear. Joyce’s sections read much like a conversation on the back porch, while Galarraga’s are more formal. He often calls the umpire whose call cost him a chance at a perfect game as “Mr. Joyce.” He also mentions that his English, while improving is still not great and while reading the book, I was hearing him speak in that accent while I was hearing Joyce just shooting the breeze while time passed by, even when he was in agony remembering the call. When I can hear the characters’ voices that clearly, I believe that is the mark of an outstanding piece of writing.
I was also surprised to see that the path both men took to the major leagues were just as similar as they were different. Both of them worked their way to the major leagues over a long period of time. Both men felt the urge to give up the dream at some point. Both men met their future wives because of their baseball travels. Both men expressed deep gratitude for making it this far. And lastly, both men show humility and class throughout the book. Not just in their roads traveled, but also in the manner in which they respected each other after the call when so many others were less flattering in their analysis of Joyce’s work that day.
This book will take the reader along the path of two men who seemed very different but because of one fateful incident, they will be intertwined forever. An outstanding read that any baseball fan will want to pick up.
Did I skim?
No, the book was a very interesting tale of two men and wanted to enjoy every word.
Pace of the book:
It read very quickly as both men shared their stories in their own style and Paisner put it together in a manner that was not only easy to read, but very compact yet informative.
Do I recommend?
This book would be enjoyed by baseball fans and readers who like to read short but detailed biographies as this reads like a memoir for both men up to that game and its fallout.
Book Format Read: