In his moment of anguish and regret, Jim Joyce described the 27th Out That Wasn’t as the worst call of his career.
Certainly, Joyce’s denial of Armando Galarraga’s perfect game Wednesday night in Detroit will go down as his most famous and most impactful call, as the debate over replay has ignited like never before.
But his worst? Red Sox fans might beg to differ. All Joyce ruined this time was a perfect game. In 2004, he almost torpedoed a perfect ending.
It was Game 6 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium when Joyce trumped the Bloody Sock with his bloody mess. As the left-field umpire on a six-man crew, Joyce ruled that Mark Bellhorn’s fourth-inning three-run homer into the first row of seats in left was actually a two-run double off the wall, denying the Red Sox a critical run.
But on a night of curse-busting twists of fate, Joyce was overruled by his colleagues — led by Joe West, of all people. Bellhorn was awarded home and the Red Sox took a 4-0 lead. And that run, as history would record, was critical, as the Yankees rallied within 4-2 before the second reversed call of the night robbed Slappy Rodriguez of an ill-gained RBI.
No wonder Sox manager Terry Francona has always championed a form of replay far beyond the current system. In Francona’s well-conceived plan, a fifth umpire would watch the game from the press box, able to view close calls on a monitor with access to the same replays as the casual fan, making quick corrections on the fly.