Christy Mathewson once said, “Many fans look upon the umpire as sort of a necessary evil to the luxury of baseball, like the odor that follows an automobile.”
They are the one part of the game that drives many mad. They call inside pitches off the plate strikes. They call pitches over the plate balls. They call runners out when they are safe. They call runners safe when they are out.
But they are never called human. Their the umps. Da bums. The boys in blue. When you don’t see them, they have called a perfect game. This happens more times than not. For one, he has done it all. And today, he is head and shoulders above all of the others in the game.
This past week in Phoenix, Jim Joyce, the legendary ump who blew the call last season that cost Armando Galarraga immortality, save a woman’s life. Before the game was to begin, Jayne Powers, a Club Seat worker, was having a seizure. Da bum ran over to her, made sure her head was protected, and began to give her CPR. He made an unsuccessful attempt to reviver her with a defibrillator. After another round of CPR from Joyce, and another defibrillator attempt, she began to breathe again.
Jayne Powers is alive and well today because of an umpire’s quick action that saved her life.
It’s unimaginable that something like this would happen to one man, the proto-typical umpire blowing calls, big calls….huge calls, and the next year saving a person’s life at the ballpark.
He is, contrary to what many people would believe, a hero…a hero of magnanimous proportions.
So the next time you are at the ballpark and when the announcer routinely calls out the umpires names before the game, perhaps it is time to stand up when you hear Jim Joyce’s name and give him a standing ovation. He deserves it.
And not to forget his place on the field, when he blows a call, yes…you can tell him what you think of the call. But perhaps the next time it will be a little less hurtful knowing full well he is just a man who understands the meaning of life perhaps a little bit more than balls or strikes or the runners position on the base paths.
To Jim Joyce. Play Ball! And, thank you.