Photo by John Grieshop/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Prior to the 2010 baseball season, Detroit Tigers fans and fantasy baseball players knew the name Armando Galarraga, but most of America probably didn’t.
By the middle of the 2010 season, he was a household name across the country.
You must know the story by now: Galarraga recorded the first 26 outs of a would-be perfect game against the Cleveland Indians. The 27th batter hit a ball between first and second base that was fielded by Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who flipped the ball to Galarraga just beating the runner to the bag. But the call was made incorrectly on the field, and the game goes as a one-hitter in the record book.
The thing is, if that’s all that happened, the sports world may have moved on quickly. But the indelible image of that day isn’t just the call at first base. The things that are remembered are the great deal of class and grace that Galarraga displayed in what was surely a stressful situation and the thoughtful way he spoke of the umpire, Jim Joyce, who acknowledged the mistake after the game. Throughout it all, he was sportsmanship defined.
On the field, Galarraga was effective, perhaps even more so than his year total numbers indicate. For the year, Galarraga was 4-9 with a 4.49 ERA, with 51 walks and 74 strikeouts in 144 1/3 innings. But he had three poor starts in September that weighed down his overall numbers. Outside of those, Galarraga posted a 3.79 ERA in his other 22 starts combined.
Galarraga became available this offseason when the Tigers chose to go in a different direction for their 40-man roster, and for the D-backs, it was a great opportunity to add to the depth of veteran pitching, and add to the competition for work in Spring Training. To acquire him, the D-backs sent minor league pitchers Kevin Eichhorn and Ryan Robowski to Detroit.
The D-backs will welcome Galarraga into the mix, not necessarily because he’s a classy guy, but because he’s a pitcher who has had some success in the big leagues and can be helpful to the staff. But for an organization that made a concerted effort to improve its culture in the clubhouse and on the field, the fact that Galarraga is a classy guy certainly helps.