MLB umpire Jim Joyce couldn’t hold back his emotions a day after costing Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game on Wednesday night in Detroit.
Joyce was behind the plate for Thursday afternoon’s game between the Tigers and Indians, wiping away tears and needing an extra moment to compose himself before entering the field via the tunnel behind home plate at 1 p.m. ET.
Fans close to the tunnel applauded as the umpire crew took the field. The cheers continued as Galarraga, bearing the lineup card, shook hands with Joyce.
But when Joyce’s name was announced over the public address system, some boos were heard.
By the time Joyce arrived at Comerica Park on Thursday morning, some fan reaction had turned hostile.
Joyce indicated in a brief interview with reporters that his family had been targeted. MLB officials wouldn’t confirm whether any specific threats of harm had been made.
“I wish my family was out of this,” Joyce said, still teary-eyed some 12 hours later. “I wish they would just direct it all to me.
“My wife is a rock. My kids are very strong. But they don’t deserve this. I’ll take it. I’ll take it. I’ll take whatever you can give me. I’ll handle it like a man. And I’ll do the best I can.”
Joyce didn’t specify what “it” was, but he said, “It’s a big problem.”
Galarraga forgave Joyce immediately, and Leyland expressed hope that Detroit fans would applaud the umpiring crew on Thursday.
“I say many times: Nobody’s perfect,” Galarraga said. “Everybody makes a mistake. I’m sure he don’t want to make that call. You see that guy last night, he feels really bad. He don’t even change. The other umpires shower, eat. He was sitting in the seat (and saying), ‘I’m so sorry.’"
Galarraga lost his bid with two out in the ninth inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians, when Joyce ruled that Jason Donald had reached base safely on a ground ball to the right side. Joyce subsequently admitted that he was wrong.
Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig didn’t change the incorrect call, but he did vow to consider the expanded use of instant replay after a series of umpiring controversies in recent weeks.
Selig didn’t explicitly rule out the possibility that he would reverse the call. But it seemed that Thursday would have been the time to make such a decision. A future change seems unlikely. One MLB source said there is "no chance" that Selig will change his mind in the future.
“As Jim Joyce said in his postgame comments, there is no dispute that last night’s game should have ended differently,” Selig said in a statement. “While the human element has always been an integral part of baseball, it is vital that mistakes on the field be addressed.
“Given last night’s call and other recent events, I will examine our umpiring system, the expanded use of instant replay and all other related features.”
Selig added that he will consult with the players’ and umpires’ unions before announcing “any decisions.”
There was a rather flashy consolation prize for Galarraga — Chevrolet presented him before Thursday’s game with a shiny red Corvette for his efforts.
Joyce didn’t offer an opinion earlier Thursday when asked about the possibility of Selig reversing his call. But such a decision might have eased the umpire’s conscience. Joyce was inconsolable on Wednesday night in the aftermath of his mistake.
“I took a perfect game away from that kid over there,” he said.
FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi contributed to this report.