Ex-Cub Pappas feels for Galarraga
As replays of the blown call that ruined Armando Galarraga's perfect game on Wednesday fanned the flames of the instant replay argument, Milt Pappas' cell phone served as a time machine, taking him back to Sept. 2, 1972.
"You'd think I lost the perfect game," Pappas joked on Thursday, referring to the number of calls he was receiving.
Pappas, a former Chicago Cubs pitcher, argues he did lose a perfect game to blown calls while facing the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field. But while Galarraga's perfect game turned on a play at first base -- a play that umpire Jim Joyce admits he got wrong -- Pappas' shot at perfection was ruined by a walk to pinch-hitter Larry Stahl with two outs in the ninth and the Cubs leading 8-0.
Pappas, who went on to get the no-hitter, blames umpire Bruce Froemming to this day.
Historic Bad Calls
• Armando Galarraga of the Tigers lost his bid for a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning on a call that first base umpire Jim Joyce later admitted he blew. First baseman Miguel Cabrera cleanly fielded Jason Donald's grounder to his right and made an accurate throw to Galarraga covering the bag. The ball was there in time but Joyce signaled the runner safe.
• Don Denkinger was the umpire at first base in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. With the Cardinals leading the Royals three games to two, the Cardinals had taken a 1-0 lead into the eighth inning. Todd Worrell came in for the Cardinals in the ninth to face Jorge Orta, who hit a slow roller to first baseman Jack Clark. He tossed it to Worrell covering first base. Denkinger called Orta safe, though television replays showed he was out by half a step. The Royals went on to win Game 6 and the World Series.
• In Milt Pappas' no-hitter on Sept. 2, 1972, Pappas had a perfect game with two outs and a 3-2 count on the 27th batter, pinch hitter Larry Stahl. Pappas' next pitch was very close but called a ball by home plate ump Bruce Froemming. Pappas got the next man out, settling for a no-hitter.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
"I would tell [Galarraga], 'I feel for you. There have been only 20 perfect games in the history of baseball,' " Pappas said. " 'The umpire situation was the same one I had -- they blew it.
" 'At least I had the satisfaction of getting the no-hitter. You don't. I feel for you. You pitched a tremendous game. At least you have the satisfaction of of the umpire saying he was sorry. But that doesn't help your situation as far as a perfect game,' " Pappas said he would tell Galarraga.
Pappas was hoping Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig would overturn Joyce's call and award Galarraga a perfect game, but Selig refused to make that move Thursday.
Pappas said he would have felt better if Froemming had apologized.
"I'd feel a lot better," Pappas said, "obviously, knowing the last three pitches were right there. But again, you're talking about judgment calls, and that's part of the game."
Froemming did not respond to a call from ESPNChicago.com for a comment on Thursday, but he told The New York Times on Wednesday night: "The pitch was outside. I didn't miss the pitch; Pappas missed the pitch. You can look at the tape. Pappas, the next day, said, 'I know the pitch was outside, but you could have given it to me.' That pitch has gotten better over the years. That pitch is right down the middle now."
Pappas said he admired Joyce for apologizing.
"At least the umpire had the guts to say he was wrong," Pappas said. "I'm sure he feels like a horse's [behind] right now.
"I feel empathy for him. It was a close play, and umpires go through this every day. I feel for the guy -- he blew it. At the time he did what he thought was right."
Pappas understands there's nothing that could be done to resolve his disappointment, and he acknowledges that reversing Joyce's call could open a can of worms as victims of other blown calls could come forward asking for restitution.
But would Pappas want Selig to reverse the calls on Stahl's at-bat?
"You're [expletive] right," he said. "But it's never going to happen."
Willie Weinbaum contributed to this report.