After setting a Major League Baseball record by umpiring 5,460 regular-season games, Joe West has taken off his mask for good.
West, 69, began his career in the majors on Sept. 14, 1976, in Atlanta in a game between the Braves and Houston Astros. He broke Bill Klem’s record of 5,375 games last May and had previously announced that this past season would be his 45th and final one.
Known to many as “Cowboy Joe,” West has cultivated a larger-than-life personality both on and off the diamond as a singer-songwriter, actor, golfer and philanthropist. He has appeared in two movies, recorded two country music albums, designed his own chest protector and played golf on the Celebrity Players Tour, among other exploits.
“He’s like a traveling road show,” said fellow umpire Dan Bellino, who was part of West’s crew for his record-breaking game in Chicago.
West is one of five veteran umpires whose retirement became official on Friday, along with MLB’s promotion of five others to full-time status, including Roberto Ortiz — the first native of Puerto Rico to join its umpiring staff.
Like West, fellow retirees Gerry Davis, Kerwin Danley, Brian Gorman and Fieldin Culbreth all had at least 25 years of major league umpiring experience.
Moving from fill-in status to full time for the 2022 season, in addition to Ortiz, are Ryan Additon, Sean Barber, John Libka and Ben May.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe West retires: MLB’s record-setting umpire done after 45 years
Source: Yahoo Sports