I love baseball books for the window they offer on life and human nature. I recently stumbled on a baseball book that blew me away -- and ought to be read far and wide.
Back in 2010 a kid pitcher named Armando Galarraga pitched a perfect game -- he did. No question about it. The only snag was that on the last play of the game, umpire Jim Joyce blew the call. The last play! Only it wasn't the last play because Galarraga then had to get one more out -- which he did -- but the game was not officially classified as a perfect game.
The resulting book is a masterpiece: Nobody's Perfect: Two Men, One Call, and a Game for Baseball History.
Collaborator Daniel Paisner, who is both prolific and startlingly good, does an amazing job of channeling Galarraga and Joyce in alternating chapters that tell their stories in baseball, their life stories - and above all the remarkable events after the blown call when the young pitcher reacted with unimaginable poise and grace and the umpire showed his human side.
Here is Galarraga describing what it was like to step into the umpires' room after the game, summoned there at Joyce's request.
"When he sees me, he starts to cry," he tells us. "It is not a screaming cry, like for a child. It is a gentle cry, like for a man. He says 'My God.' That is all. Just, 'My God.' Like he cannot believe it. Like he is heartbroken. Then he shakes his head back and forth and says, 'I am so sorry, Armando. I do not know what else to say.'"
A gentle cry -- like for a man. That might be a topic for a whole book, come to think of it. Maybe I'll get started on that now.