Joe West
(Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)

Joe West Stands Alone

Umpire Joe West made history on Tuesday night. The 75-year-old umpire umped his 5,376th career game, and in doing, so passed Bill Klem’s record for most games umped all time.

West umped for a record 43 consecutive seasons, starting his career in 1976. In the process, he umped through the rapid changes baseball experienced over the last 20 years and served as President of the umpires union too, but West plans to retire following the 2021 MLB season. This longevity is an impressive feat, of course, but how much should an umpire who made horrendous calls and was involved in plenty of colorful arguments be celebrated?

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Joe West’s Most Memorable Moments

West has been involved in some incredible moments over his career. These clips are some of the most memorable.

On May 26th, 2010, West called a balk on White Sox LHP Mark Buehrle, and an argument between West and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen regarding West’s call ensued. (clip via MLB Global)

Buehrle was later called for a second balk and dropped his glove, disgusted with himself. West ejected him for it.

West has also been suspended multiple times, being suspended for three games after shoving Braves Manager Joe Torre, and later being suspended for one game in 2014 after grabbing Phillies’ Closer Johnathon Papelbon’s jersey following an ejection.

In 2020, West gave the baseball world an unforgettable ejection. In a game between the Nationals and Braves, West ejected Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo, who was sitting in the second deck club suite.

Aside from the long list of West’s ejections, he also brought us some hilarious moments. In 2019, during the later innings of a New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies game, a play at the plate broke out. West was not prepared for this play, fell on Mets’ Rajai Davis, and was unable to get up.

This has to be one of the funniest moments in MLB history that featured an umpire. Looking at Davis’ face, you can see the confusion and pleas for help because West cannot move.

Joe West, Congratulations

In all seriousness, congratulations to Joe West on a very impressive accomplishment and career. You have to do your job correctly to a certain degree to be doing it that long, and that work ethic deserves to be recognized.

The entire situation feels ironic, however. It is as if we are rewarding a surgeon for completing the most surgeries of all time while ignoring the fact that half of their patients died shortly afterward. West has certainly improved public perception of him over the last few years, but the baseball world will never forget the many egregious and hilarious ejections and moments that West gave us during his career.

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