Still, there seemed to be some sort of aligning of the planets that put Joyce at third base that night. We flash back.
June 2, 2010, Cleveland at Detroit
Joyce was the first base umpire. Detroit's Armando Galarraga was one out from pitching a perfect game. He induced a routine ground ball, dashed to first base to cover, handled the play perfectly and got his foot on the bag before the runner.
Only one thing was wrong. Joyce called the runner safe. No perfect game.
Then, a funny thing happened on the way to the usual angry explosion. Sure, fans cursed, the media criticized, a couple of Tigers players slammed their gloves in disgust, but Galarraga saved the day. He shrugged, finished the game and told the media afterward that he felt bad, but knew Joyce felt worse.
Which he did.
"The kid worked his butt off all night," Joyce said, "and I blew the call."
The next night, with Joyce scheduled to work balls and strikes, he walked to home plate for the meeting with managers and the lineup cards. But Detroit's Jim Leyland wasn't there. Galarraga was, ready to hand the card to Joyce. It was an all-time gesture of sportsmanship and class. Joyce lost it.
"I cried," he says now. "It was the defining moment of my career."
As he left the plate, Galarraga patted Joyce on the shoulder.
"I have a picture of that hanging in my home," Joyce says.
Shortly after the blown call, a survey asked major league players and managers to name the best umpires. Joyce finished first.
From that day in Detroit, we flash forward.
Aug. 20, 2012, Chase Field, Phoenix
In the tunnel before the Diamondbacks-Marlins game, a food service employee named Jayne Powers collapsed. There were more than a dozen people nearby, but one, Jim Joyce, on his way to his locker room, reacted the fastest.
"My degree was in health administration at Bowling Green," Joyce says. "I knew what to do."
Powers wasn't breathing, had no pulse. Joyce did CPR and continued even after paramedics arrived. Her condition was so critical that the paramedics, while rolling her on a stretcher and into the ambulance, had to shock her heart six times to restart it.
Joyce's crew tried to dissuade him from working the plate that night. He responded that the constant focus of balls and strikes would be his salvation. His wife, Kay, who had been with him, warned others against giving any updates on Powers' condition.
But in the fifth inning, he was called to the screen behind home plate and told Powers' condition was stable.
Jayne Powers is back at work at the stadium now. She walks three miles a day.