Major League Baseball umpire Joe West is on track to break Hall of Famer Bill Klem’s record for the most regular-season games by an umpire this week. When West took the field as first base umpire in Monday night’s game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox (STL-CHW GameTracker), he tied Klem’s mark with his 5,375th career MLB game.
Klem umpired in the National League for 37 years before retiring in 1941, and was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953.
The 68-year-old West made his MLB debut in 1976 at the age of 23, and plans to retire following the 2021 season. During West’s lengthy career — his 43-year tenure ranks as the longest by an MLB umpire — he spent 23 years umpiring in the National League before he moved to covering the entire league in 2002.
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Some of West’s notable games include working Nolan Ryan’s fifth career no-hitter in 1981, Willie McCovey’s 500th home run in 1978, Félix Hernández’s perfect game in 2012, and Albert Pujols’ 400th career home run in 2013. West’s career spans six of baseball’s 10 commissioners: Bowie Kuhn, Peter Ueberroth, Bart Giamatti, Fay Vincent, Bud Selig, and Rob Manfred.
West was in the news earlier this year when he was awarded $500,000 in damages in a defamation lawsuit against former MLB catcher Paul Lo Duca.