Soon, Joe West will no longer be calling balls or strikes behind the plate. The longtime umpire told Major League Baseball that he will retire after the 2021 playoffs.
Joe West stepped down from his role as the President of The Major League Baseball Umpires Association. West or “Country Joe” as everyone calls him has been a Major League umpire since 1976.
Just recently, he passed Bill Klem for the most games umpired at the Major League level. West passed Bill Klem for most games umpired on May 10 with his 5,376th regular-season appearance. He worked his first MLB game in 1976 and has been an umpire during the tenure of six different MLB commissioners.
West’s career is not without controversy as he’s frequently derided by fans and players over his strike zone, calls, and propensity to eject players from games. In a 2010 ESPN survey, players voted West as the second-worst umpire in baseball behind CB Bucknor and the quickest to order an ejection.
“Breaking the record was the goal,” West told ESPN on Monday. “I thought I would do it last year but the season got a little messed up and I don’t think it was right to work until the point of the record then just quit.”
His first assignment for the 2021 MLB Playoffs will be the NL Wildcard game. Although, We will see if the MLB decides to assign him after that. West was named the second-worst umpire in baseball and the quickest trigger for ejecting players in a survey done by ESPN back in 2010.
“Your first responsibility is to the game of baseball,” he told ESPN. “That might not mean the commissioner’s office. It’s the game itself. Your second responsibility is to your profession. That might not mean the [umpire’s] union. The third responsibility is to do in your heart what is morally honest and correct. If you do that, you won’t be wrong.”
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