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Joe West to Retire After 2021 MLB Postseason; Holds Record for Most Games Umpired

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVOctober 5, 2021

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Longtime MLB umpire Joe West, who holds the record for most games umpired in MLB history, plans to retire after the 2021 postseason.

"Breaking the record was the goal," he told ESPN's Jesse Rogers 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."

On May 25, West umpired game No. 5,376, surpassing Bill Klem.

While all umpires earn the ire of fans, players and managers alike, West seemed to cut a particularly controversial figure during his 44-year career.

In a 2010 survey of MLB players, West was named the second-worst umpire in baseball and the quickest trigger for ejecting players.

West told Rogers that he likely ejected around 190 players or managers throughout his career.

"That's not a lot over 44 years," he joked.

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Former MLB pitcher Kerry Wood didn't hold back when discussing West on Twitter back in 2016:

Kerry Wood @KerryWood

I just don't want him in the post season. Enough of the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/JoeShow?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#JoeShow</a> <a href="https://t.co/qPhEQ9u7nf">https://t.co/qPhEQ9u7nf</a>

Kerry Wood @KerryWood

Ok I'm done. We all know he sucks. Good night.

West also won a $500,000 defamation lawsuit against former MLB catcher Paul Lo Duca in 2019 after Lo Duca said on a podcast that West would give pitcher Billy Wagner a bigger strike zone because the closer would let him drive his 1957 vintage Chevrolet.

Controversies aside, West had a long and distinguished career as an umpire. As for the advice he leaves behind for younger folks in the profession, he told Rogers an umpire's first responsibility is "to the game of baseball."

"That might not mean the commissioner's office. It's the game itself," he said. "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.'"

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