Joe West has made it official, retiring from Major League Baseball after umpiring a record 5,460 regular-season games.
The 69-year-old West worked his first big league game on Sept. 14, 1976, at third base in Atlanta when the Braves hosted the Houston Astros. His finale was on Oct. 6, when he worked home plate at Dodger Stadium for the National League wild-card game between the Dodgers and Cardinals.
Known as Country Joe, West set the record for regular-season games May 25, when he worked the plate when the Chicago White Sox hosted the Cardinals. NL umpire Bill Klem had held the record following in a career that spanned 1905 to 1941.
Joe West has made his final out call on himself, retiring as an MLB umpire after a league-record 5,460 regular-season games over 45 seasons. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
West’s departure came as part of a series of retirements and promotions announced Friday by MLB, including Roberto Ortiz becoming the first Puerto Rican-born umpire to join the big league staff.
“I am honored and blessed to have the privilege of becoming the first Puerto Rican umpire to be hired by MLB,” said Ortiz, 37. “It fills me with pride to be able to represent my family and my island of Puerto Rico in what I consider the best league in the world.”
Ortiz had worked 411 major league games since 2016 as a call-up ump. He had been a minor league umpire since 2009 and was assigned to Triple-A last year.
Longtime umpires Gerry Davis, Kerwin Danley, Brian Gorman and Fieldin Culbreth also retired, while Ben May, Ryan Additon, Sean Barber and John Libka joined Ortiz in promotions to the full-time MLB staff.
Laz Diaz, Greg Gibson, Marvin Hudson, Ron Kulpa and Bill Welke were elevated to crew chiefs.
May, 40, called 650 MLB games as a call-up since 2014. He started in the minors in 2007 and was in Triple-A last season.
Additon, 36, worked the plate when Corey Kluber pitched a no-hitter for the Yankees at Texas on May 19. A minor league ump since 2010 and assigned to Triple-A last year, he had called 381 games in the majors.
Barber, 36, had called 690 big league games since 2014. He began in the minors in 2006 and was in Triple-A last season.
Libka, 34, had worked 371 MLB games since 2017. He started in the minors in 2010 and was in Triple-A last year.
Davis worked a combined 5,000 games in the majors, including a record 151 in the postseason to go with 4,849 in the regular season. Davis, who turns 69 later this month, had postseason assignments for 24 straight seasons in his 38-year major league career.
Danley, 60, in 2020 became the first African American crew chief in MLB history and was a big league umpire for 25 years. In college, he was an All-American at San Diego State and teammate of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn.
Gorman, 62, worked three World Series in his 30-year career and represented umps on MLB’s Playing Rules Committee. He is the son of former umpire Tom Gorman.
Culbreth, 58, worked three World Series in his 25-year major league career.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: ESPN MLB