Controversial MLB umpire Joe West announces retirement with record in hand

Joe West is retiring.

The longtime MLB umpire informed MLB of his decision to call it quits after the playoffs. He's 68 years old.

West made the decision to step down after breaking the MLB record for most games umpired earlier this season. He spoke with ESPN about the decision on Monday.

"Breaking the record was the goal,""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."

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.

He resigned amid a labor dispute in 1999. He returned to MLB in 2002 and was later elected president of the The Major League Baseball Umpires Association, where he helped secure labor peace with a long-term contract with MLB in 2009.

West will umpire at least one more game; he'll be at Dodger Stadium for the National League Wild Card contest between the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.

"We're not supposed to say, but I am."

West estimates he's thrown out about 190 players, managers or coaches over his career.

"That's not a lot over 44 years,"

West learned a philosophy early on which he's imparted to younger umpires:

"Your first responsibility is to the game of baseball. 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.

Over the years I've modified that to say, 'you'll never be wrong but you might get killed,'"

West credited some of the older umpires like Harvey, Tom Gorman and John McSherry for paving the way for him. In fact, he said the entire list was too long to mention. After breaking the record, the league presented him with a plaque.

"We appreciate the skill, dedication and passion that Joe has brought to the umpiring profession and our National Pastime,"


"Baseball is typically American," "There are a lot more failures in it than successes. That's part of life in everything you do."

"they expect you to be perfect at."

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