People Are Awesome: Fans Forgive Umpire's Mistake

After botching a huge call, Jim Joyce was vilified by some, but heartwarmingly supported by others.

This story is tangentially about sports, but bear with me even if you think you don't care. Last summer, Detroit Tiger's pitcher Armando Galarraga was one out away from a perfect game. There have only been only 18 perfect games since 1900; it is a rare feat. On the last batter of this potential perfect game, umpire Jim Joyce made an egregious mistake, calling a runner safe at first when he was clearly out, thus ruining the achievement.

Joyce was vilified by many fans for messing up so simple a play and ruining a piece of history. Joyce, one of the most popular and respected umpires, was also devastatingly upset with himself. A piece by Amy K. Nelson on outlines the level of vitriol (death threats, etc) aimed at Joyce. But she also reveals the backlash to the backlash, an outpouring of support from people telling Joyce that to err is human, and that he shouldn't feel bad.

The most touching of these is the photo below. Baggage handlers at the Detroit airport—clearly big enough fans to recognize Joyce's name—wrote encouraging messages on his bag check slips, which Joyce found when he retrieved his bags at the end of his flight. "You gave your best. God bless," and "We are all human—good luck." Words to live by.