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Perfect Game Pitched by Rookie Ruled Not-So-Perfect by Umpire
I grew up on baseball in the ‘60s with the likes of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. A few years later Tom Seaver and the Miracle Mets held my fancy. Over the years I’ve been intrigued by many baseball spectaculars such as Mark McGwire breaking Roger Maris’s homerun record and Barry Bonds overcoming Mark McGwire’s record. Roger Clemens winning his 300th game and pitching his 3,000th strikeout was unforgettable. I was enchanted with these baseball heroes when they achieved their record-breaking accomplishments.
Then the story about how modern day athletes were using steroids became public and the glory of those heroes from the past 20 years disappeared. Many of us lost our youthful innocence with the discovery that steroids had intruded into the daily routines of professional baseball. But as my Bubby (Russian grandma) used to say, “C’est la vie." At least that was the French translation.
Last week, a rookie pitcher pitching in the big leagues for the first year had a perfect game. With only one out to go, no batter had reached first base the entire game. This is a rarity in baseball; it’s occurred only 20 times in major league history. The final out was weakly hit ground ball to the infield. The pitcher covering first base beat the batter as the throw was caught before the batter reached the bag. Unfortunately, the umpire mistakenly shot his arms out, signifying the batter was safe sign, and thus robbing the pitcher of his rare perfect game.
So why am I blogging about a botched call ruining a perfect game? This arbitrary wrong turn of events which prevented a perfect game crushed me emotionally the same day my patient, who I wanted so much to have her baby, miscarried after three years of trying to conceive. She, like the rookie pitcher Armando Galarraga, deserved to have her day. The perfect game, the perfect baby. Randomly, both were denied.
How is an individual who has such hopes, dreams and aspirations to deal with this catastrophic disappointment?
I was feeling distraught, angry, pushing me to cry out for justice for some supernatural power to make things right again.
Forty-five minutes after the game, after umpire Jim Joyce had had the opportunity to review the play, he went to the dugout to speak with pitcher Galarraga. He apologized to the pitcher for spoiling his slice of fame. There were few words, just a deep apology, as tears welled in Joyce's eyes.
"He feels really bad, probably worse than me," said Galaragga, who began the season in the minors in Toledo. "I give a lot of credit to that guy, to say he's sorry. I gave him a hug. His body English said more than the words. Nobody's perfect, everybody's human."
We in the infertility field face disappointments as regularly as the menstrual cycle. When a pregnancy is conceived, in our minds, the “perfect baby” is essentially created. Miscarriage -- the loss of someone’s “perfect baby” -- seems a life crushing blow.
Perhaps, we can gain strength from the story of these two men, Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce. They were able to reconcile a catastrophic schism in their path to obtaining their “perfect” goal and move forward to the next game.
Thank you, Armando and Jim, for helping us see the way. After all, if you can get this close once only to miss because of a random mistake, then why can’t we expect to have a good shot of making it work next time?
In the mean time, again as my Bubby would say, “Play ball.”