Umpire Jim Joyce does CPR, helps to save woman’s life at Chase Field

David Brown
Big League Stew

Jim Joyce, the umpire most notable for ruining a perfect game by Detroit's Armando Galarraga in 2010, probably made the best save ever at Chase Field in Phoenix on Monday. And it had nothing to do with a baseball game.

Joyce, a 24-year veteran of the major leagues, used CPR to help save the life of a woman having a seizure. The woman, a game-day employee of the Arizona Diamondbacks named Jayne Powers, who joined the organization on its first day of existence in 1998, is said to be "doing well" Tuesday. But if Joyce had not stepped forward, who knows if she would have made it?

As told to reporter Scott Miller of CBS's Eye On Baseball, the four-man umpiring crew for Arizona's game against the Miami Marlins was in a ballpark tunnel walking to its dressing room about 90 minutes before the first pitch when the four saw Powers having a seizure. Joyce, 56, said he took CPR in high school and had used it before but not in a long time. He knew first to protect Powers' head before going to work, but then her body relaxed.

This was bad. She had stopped breathing.

Paramedics arrived while Joyce was administering CPR, but even after an initial shock from a defibrillator, the woman did not come out of it. So Joyce continued administering CPR while the paramedics did another round with the defibrillator.

Finally, the woman began breathing again. Someone told Joyce later Monday night that she went out again in the ambulance and that paramedics again used the defibrillator.

But she lived, and appears to be thriving. Miller quotes Joyce several times in the story: Everyone should learn CPR.

"It's not a hard thing. You don't need a degree. It's very simple, and very easy."

Learning it was the best call Joyce ever made, or ever will. Still, the woman's condition was on Joyce's mind Monday night as he worked home plate. His colleagues offered a switch, but Joyce said he would have spent even more time worrying if he were standing at third all night, pressed into action only once in a while.

Joyce took advantage of an opportunity to visit Powers at the hospital Tuesday, which was a load off his mind, Steve Gilbert of writes:

While he was performing CPR, Joyce was singing the song "Staying Alive" as a way of keeping the compressions going at the right time.

Joyce asked Powers if she remembered him singing to her.

"She didn't remember that," Joyce said. "But she told my wife she remembered my voice. I was yelling for her to come back and everything. She said she recognized my voice, so that's really kind of cool."

And this episode definitely puts the entire Galarraga thing into perspective. After incurring the wrath of most baseball fans that fateful day at Comerica Park, Joyce was forgiven by Galarraga and most others by admitting his mistake, apologizing ("I kicked it") and being kind of an emotional wreck about it. Baseball fans already knew umps were fallible humans, but Joyce reminded us that they're people, too. If that makes sense.

Of course later, Joyce and Galarraga teamed up to write a book about their moment together and that was strange. And improper. So then we kind of forgot again that Joyce was an OK guy.

Well, this — saving another human being — obviously is something else. It doesn't give Joyce free reign to mess up other perfect games or sign inappropriate book deals — and cyborg umps probably should rule us all someday — but the timely rescue should always be the first thing we think of when we think of Jim Joyce. Even though it probably will be the second thing.

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