Whether you like him or not, MLB umpire Joe West is on the verge of breaking Hall of Famer Bill Klem’s record for the most regular-season games worked by an umpire this week. Sure enough, the milestone will undoubtedly be accomplished at Guaranteed Rate Field during the second game of the Cardinals-White Sox series.
Barring any unexpected cancellations, West will tie Klem’s mark in Monday night’s game as he takes the field for the 5,375th career game. He will then officially set the record on Tuesday night, in an already notable game with Harvard-Westlake teammates Lucas Giolito and Jack Flaherty going up against each other.
West originally made his MLB debut in 1976 at the age of 23, and joined the National League umpiring staff, full-time, two years later. He’s since gone on to work in the National League for 23 years before transitioning to both leagues in 2002. Some of the legendary moments West has been a part of include Nolan Ryan‘s fifth no-hitter, Willie McCovey‘s 500th home run, and Felix Hernandez‘s perfect game.
Unfortunately for “Cowboy Joe,” he hasn’t always been viewed as one of the “Good Guys” by the fanbase. His questionable calls culminated on May 26, 2010 when he issued a pair of balks against Chicago starting pitcher Mark Buehrle. Both Buehrle and then manager Ozzie Guillen were ejected during the incident, while broadcaster “Hawk” Harrelson delivered one of his most iconic rants (below).
West’s legendary and infamous career will come to an end following this season as the 68-year-old is planning to retire.
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