Friday, January 10, 2014

Portland Tribune Interviews Umpire Jim Joyce About Career

MLB Umpire Jim Joyce spoke with Oregon's Portland Tribune to start the new year, revealing to the publication's Kerry Eggers that, among other things, he almost left professional baseball in the wake of the now infamous Armando Galarraga imperfect game incident: "I could very easily have walked away from the game of baseball after that season. I could have slinked away. I beat myself up. if I didn't have people like Nick and my wife encouraging me, I might have."

Major League Umpire Jim Joyce
Photo: CCA 2.0 Wikimedia.
The "Nick" Joyce refers to is Nick Hamel, a Floridian teenager with spinal bifida after that June 2010 Detroit affair. In his letter, Hamel related a personal story with the takeaway lesson: "You're crying over spilt milk."

This is the same Nick Hamel, then 11 years old, mentioned in Joyce's book, Nobody's Perfect, delivered by Phil Cuzzi. In that e-mail, Hamel wrote:
Please tell Mr. Joyce to hang in there, keep his head up, and give him a hug for me the next time you see him...Eventually things will settle down and it will fall into the spilt milk category. You guys have a tough job and you all do it well...better than anybody else that is why you are in the big leagues.
Hamel is one of us—an "umps [sic] best friend"—and when Joyce finally met Hamel, he was gifted the umpire's hat Joyce wore that night in Detroit: "Just in case anyone's wondering, I'm [Joyce] hoping the Hall of Fame never calls."

Joyce obviously did not retire after that season, a decision that not only kept MLB's favorite umpire (as voted by the players) in the game, it also may have saved Levy employee Jayne Powers' life when, prior to the Monday, August 20, 2012 Marlins-Diamondbacks game, Joyce performed CPR on Powers when she stopped breathing during cardiac arrest. After two rounds of CPR and a defibrillator's shock, Powers moved, then breathed.

Arizona recognized Joyce the following evening, broadcaster Brad Steinke stating: "Without a doubt, that man right there saved a life." Joyce used the opportunity to encourage all viewers to learn CPR.

The remainder of Joyce's interview, given prior to an umpiring clinic at local Concordia University, delved into baseball philosophy—from home plate collisions and expanded instant replay ("I'm not allowed to talk about that right now") to his obstruction call to end Game 3 of the 2013 World Series and journey to get there.

Finally, Joyce responded to a question about the future and retirement, saying, "I have a couple of more [years] in me, if my knees hold up. We'll see what happens after this year."

Joyce was the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's Honorable Umpire of the Year in 2010 and 2012 and recipient of the UEFL's Umpire of the Year Award in 2009 and 2013.

News: EGGERS: Talkin' baseball with Beaverton's Jim Joyce, MLB's top umpire (Portland Tribune)


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