Umpire Joe West made history Tuesday night, setting the record for most games ever officiated in Major League Baseball history.
It was the 5,376th game West umpired, beating the old record holder Bill Klem. The record has been held for 80 years and was finally broken at the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals game Tuesday night.
“Cowboy Joe” has been a full-time MLB umpire since 1978, umpiring three All-Star games, 23 postseasons, and six World Series.
West also likes to have fun off of the field, making his music and partying with his friends until the dead of night. However, on the field, West is much more serious.
Considering how many games he has been through, it is easy to say he has seen a lot of controversies through the years.
He was the umpire who ejected Dodgers pitcher Jay Howell for using pine tar on his glove during the playoffs in 1988.
He was also suspended a few times during his career. Once for shoving former manager Joe Torre in 1981, and for saying the Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre complained more than anyone else in baseball.
Although West has gone through plenty, to this day he is still unbothered by any criticism or threats. He once received a death threat before he started a game. The Cowboy did not pay attention to it and officiated anyway.
The long-lasting umpire loves the sport, given how much he has done for it. He was on the same crew with crew chief Tom Gorman and was there at Gorman’s final game in 1977. West was crew chief when Gorman’s son, Brian, started in the major leagues in 1991 in St. Louis.
West is also known to be a charitable man. He has made several charity events for veterans while visiting children’s hospitals without letting anyone know.
West is in line to break another record, to become the oldest umpire in MLB history. Right now he is tied with none other than Bill Klem at 68, but West is not planning to retire anytime soon.
Fans thought he could retire last year after his knee replacement surgery, but West said he felt better than ever and was happy coming back.
When asked about how he felt about this record-breaking achievement, West stated he would get emotional every time he thought about how far he had come.