It was nearly dawn. Election officials for Baseball's Hall of Fame were working feverishly to verify the results for that afternoon. Usually, they just casually glanced over the ballots and totaled them up, but not this year. This year, one Bert Blyleven was making things difficult. He fell a mere five votes shy of enshrinement. The higher-ups had ordered a recount, citing some obscure provision in the Hall charter about less than one percent, or some such thing. So there they were, in a small room in Cooperstown under the harsh light of a single bare bulb, meticulously poring through each ballot.
"It can't be," one of them let out at last, stopping with the stack of ballots before him. "Something's not right." He pushed the stack of papers across the table to one of his fellow officials. "Take a look at this."
"What's this?" the second official asked as he stared down at the pile of ballots clipped together with the word "FLORIDA" written across a yellow post-it on top. He began flipping through them. "Huh?" he said. "How many votes did Galarraga get this year?"
"Twenty-two? No shit, huh?"
A third official chimed in, "Don't worry about Galarraga. He's nowhere near getting in, we've only got to double check on Blyleven."
"No, this is interesting. Twenty-two votes. Any of you guys of a mind to vote for Galarraga for the Hall of Fame?" No one was. "And yet, twenty-two votes."
"Who cares? A guy voted for David Segui, for Christ's sake. Two for Eric Karros! No one takes this shit seriously anyways. So twenty-two guys decided to play the same joke, or he scratched someone's back back in the day, or twenty-two writers are morons. Does it matter? What's this got to do with Blyleven?"
"That's the thing. Twenty-two votes. You know how many votes he got from Florida? Twenty-two votes." The others were interested now. "Look at this thing," he laid the ballots out on the table:
They were baffled. None of them had seen a ballot like that before. Right there, Bert Blyleven's name, the second one down, with a line straight over it leading directly to the second circle down, the circle indicating a vote for...Andres Galarraga.
"Any of the other ballots like this?" one of them asked.
"Just the ones from Florida."
And there it was. Twenty-two votes. Blyleven missed by five. And there wasn't a thing they could do about it but count the votes as cast and run the results out to be released to the public, with Blyleven woefully close, painfully short, his deciding votes butterflied away to Andres Galarraga.