Home plate umpire Jim Joyce, left, shakes hands with Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga while handing the lineup card on the field before the Detroit Tigers-Cleveland Indians MLB baseball game in Detroit, Thursday, June 3, 2010. Galarraga lost his bid for a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning on a disputed call at first base by Joyce on Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Any sports fan and especially baseball fans had to hurt for Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga when he pitched the rare gem known as a perfect game….and he was robbed in the bottom of the ninth with a bad call by the ump. But what’s happened since will be celebrated in the annals of sports history…

That Galarraga’s perfect game won’t exactly be recorded as such is a technical detail that though important, is somewhat incidental since it’s now well known and appreciated by fans nationwide. But it’s how he handled the great trial of so unjustly being denied what he had earned……that’s perfection.

How we handle adversity says a lot about our character. Hemingway called it ‘grace under pressure’, and Galarraga showed it in the heat of the moment, and even more so ever since. And doing so gave others involved the inspiration to step up, themselves.

One of the beauties of sports is that it provides us teaching moments, one after another if you’re paying attention.

Seldom has anyone taken advantage of one any better than did Armando Galarraga, Jim Leyland and the Detroit Tigers‘ organization after Jim Joyce’s blown call kept the 28-year-old Galarraga from being credited with baseball’s 21st perfect game. Joyce too has made all the right moves since stunningly calling the Indians’ Jason Donald safe at first with two outs in the ninth inning Wednesday night at Comerica Park.

When Galarraga brought out his club’s lineup card to Joyce on Thursday afternoon, it was one of the great moments of the season. All’s never going to be forgotten about the Joyce call but as Leyland pointed out, all humans make mistakes and life goes on.

We all face adversities and sometimes great injustices that rob us of something we actually achieve or deserve. We can’t all be so noble as this, but millions of people who are watching this drama unfold – including millions of children who study and emulate sports stars – are inspired by this valuable life lesson. It required great humility from several people. It involved a profoundly sincere and very public apology by the man who blew the call and the record books, who was crushed by his own mistake. And it was made perfect by Galarraga’s honorable acceptance of a human error and his forgiveness for its resulting injustice.

The two had made their peace Wednesday night when Joyce visited the Tigers clubhouse to tell Galarraga and Leyland he was sorry for his mistake. That gesture was classier than even the gift of a sports car.

(Way classier. The corvette is just a toy for the man who played a perfect game.)

“The dignity and class of the entire Detroit Tigers organization under such circumstances were truly admirable and embodied good sportsmanship of the highest order,” Selig said. “[Galarraga] and Detroit manager Jim Leyland are to be commended for their handling of a very difficult situation. I also applaud the courage of umpire Jim Joyce to address this unfortunate situation honestly and directly.”

Mistakes are unavoidable in every walk of life. Everyone involved in this one has responded in remarkable fashion — no replay required.

But it would be great to see that kind of noble dignity played out again and again, in every field.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....