Baseball's Most Vilified Ump Is Out

Angel Hernandez retires midseason
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2024 10:04 AM CDT
Baseball's Most Controversial Ump Is Out
Major League umpire Angel Hernandez before a game.   (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)

News that a Major League Baseball umpire is retiring typically doesn't make waves. But in this case, the umpire just happens to be the most vilified one in the game—Angel Hernandez. As coverage shows, however, not everybody thinks he deserves his reputation:

  • Retirement: Hernandez, 62, announced his retirement effective immediately after more than three decades, reports USA Today. "Starting with my first major league game in 1991, I have had the very good experience of living out my childhood dream of umpiring in the major leagues," he said in a statement, adding that he now wanted to spend more time with family. Hernandez umped his last game on May 9, and he and the league had been working on an exit deal since.

  • Examples: Hernandez has long been one of baseball's "most infamous" umpires, per the New York Post. Players and managers have loudly and regularly complained about an erratic strike zone, a penchant for quick ejections, and generally bad umping. In one recently and widely cited example, he called out Wyatt Langford of the Texas Rangers on three pitches outside the strike zone. Watch it here. ESPN notes that he had three calls reversed by replay in the first four innings of a 2018 playoff game. USA Today rounds up several iffy calls here.
  • Deep dive: The Athletic took an in-depth look at Hernandez's career last week, rehashing his many controversies. The piece says the umpire doesn't pay much attention to his critics, but his family does. "What hurts him the most is the pain that his two daughters and his wife go through when they know it's so unbelievably undeserved," says his attorney, Kevin Murphy." Still, many think it is deserved. "Angel in the middle of something again," MVP Bryce Harper said last year after he and the ump squared off on a checked-swing call (video appeared to show Harper was right). "Every year. It's the same story. Same thing."
  • In defense: "Anybody that says he's the worst umpire in baseball doesn't know what they're talking about," umping legend Joe West tells the Athletic. The piece notes that "confirmation bias" may play a role in Hernandez's bad reputation—all umps make mistakes, and when he makes them, they get amplified and quickly shared on social media.
  • Failed lawsuit: Hernandez, a native of Cuba, unsuccessfully sued MLB in 2017, alleging that racial discrimination kept him from being assigned to World Series games and other marquee contests, per the AP.
(More Major League Baseball stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.