MLB Umpire Jim Joyce Saves D'Backs Employee's Life with CPR

Gil Imber@RefereeOrganistAnalyst IIAugust 22, 2012

MLB Umpire Jim Joyce
MLB Umpire Jim JoyceThomas B. Shea/Getty Images

MLB umpire Jim Joyce reportedly saved a woman's life Monday night by performing CPR when the woman, Diamondbacks food service employee Jayne Powers, went into cardiac arrest following a Levy Restaurants pregame briefing (via

The incident occurred approximately 90 minutes prior to the evening's scheduled Marlins vs. D-Backs contest when veteran umpire Joyce—who was scheduled to work home plate that night—and crew-mates Lance Barrett, Jim Reynolds and James Hoye were arriving at Chase Field.

While navigating the underground corridors en route to the umpires' dressing room, Joyce noticed a woman who had fallen to the ground and took immediate action.

After ensuring her head was adequately protected, Joyce noticed Powers had become limp, her breathing coming to a stop as what staff initially believed had been a seizure, to Joyce, turned into a case of severe cardiac arrest.

Joyce, who learned CPR while in high school nearly four decades ago, immediately began performing compressions on Powers' chest, singing the Bee Gees' classic hit "Staying Alive" both to maintain an appropriate compression rate and in an attempt to revive Powers.

Joyce continued his administration of CPR, even as paramedics arrived with a defibrillator whose first shock failed to revive Powers. When the AED delivered its second shock, Powers began breathing again and Joyce stayed with her until the EMTs had stabilized and transported Powers into a waiting ambulance.

Once in the umpires' room, Joyce's crew offered to give him a breather by trading in his plate shift for a night at third base, an offer Joyce declined: "It was very emotional, I'll be honest with you," he said.

"But I didn't want to go to third base because just standing there, literally, [the incident] is all I would have thought about all night. I wouldn't have been able to think about anything else. Going behind the plate, I would have something to do every minute. I could just do my job. But I'll be honest with you, there were still times during the game that I was thinking about it."

After receiving word from D-Backs executive Roland Hemond that Powers was going to be alright, Joyce and wife Kay took a Tuesday afternoon trip to Good Samaritan Hospital in the Phoenix area where the couple stopped by Powers' room: "She told my wife she remembered my voice," said Joyce. "I was yelling for her to come back and everything. She said she recognized my voice, so that's really kind of cool."

Joyce, who has previously found himself at the top of multiple polls under the heading "best umpire" by both players and fans alike is known across the baseball community as more than just a gifted umpire—he is known as someone who goes beyond plainly calling an accurate strike zone.

Put simply, Joyce is known across baseball as a great person.

When Joyce missed a key 27th out call during Armando Galarraga's imperfect game in 2010, he nobly owned up to the error, tearfully admitting the call was incorrect and immediately apologizing to Galarraga in a sequence that ABC News titled succinctly, "Perfect Sportsmanship."

On Tuesday, word had spread across the D-Backs organization and fanbase of Joyce's heroics: When the umpiring crew arrived at the ballpark, they were met with cheers from a slew of front office and game-day employees and as Joyce took the field to work third base—the customary umpiring assignment for the day following a plate job—he was greeted by another smattering of applause and a sign from one fan, who had simply written the words "Jim Joyce #HERO."

As Joyce sauntered over to shake that man's hand, he characteristically pointed to the word "hero" and shook his head, appearing to mouth the words, "not me."

Yet as far as baseball is concerned, there very well may be no words more fitting for Jim Joyce than that innocuous four-letter word that Merriam-Webster defines as "a man admired for his achievements and noble who shows great courage."

A hero? Yes, Jim Joyce, that is you.


Gil Imber is Bleacher Report's Rules Featured Columnist and owner of Close Call Sports, a website dedicated to the objective and fair analysis of close or controversial calls in sports.