Roberto Ortíz named first full-time umpire from Puerto Rico

Four others also promoted to replace recently retired veterans

February 4th, 2022

Five umpires have been promoted to the Major League staff to replace five longtime umpires who are retiring, MLB announced Friday. Ryan Additon, Sean Barber, John Libka, Ben May and Roberto Ortíz join the big league staff in place of Fieldin Culbreth, Kerwin Danley, Gerry Davis, Brian Gorman and Joe West.

Ortíz’s promotion makes MLB history -- he is the first Puerto Rican-born full-time Major League umpire.

“I am honored and blessed to have the privilege of becoming the first Puerto Rican umpire to be hired by MLB,” Ortíz said. “It fills me with pride to be able to represent my family and my island of Puerto Rico in what I consider the best league in the world.”

Ortíz, 37, has been an umpire in the Minor Leagues since 2009, and worked Triple-A East last year. He has served as a callup umpire in 411 Major League games since 2016.

Additon, 36, has been a Minor League umpire since 2010, and has umpired in 381 Major League games as a callup umpire since '17. In one of those games, he was behind the plate for a no-hitter -- Corey Kluber’s no-no for the Yankees against the Rangers at Globe Life Field on May 19, 2021. Addition umpired in Triple-A East last year.

Barber, also 36, has been umpiring in the Minors since 2006. He has worked 690 Major League games as a callup umpire since 2014, and he worked Triple-A East last season.

Libka, 34, has been a Minor League umpire since 2010, working Triple-A West in ’21. He has worked 371 Major League games as a callup umpire since 2017.

May, 40, has umpired in the Minors since 2007, and has worked 650 Major League games as a callup umpire since '14. He worked Triple-A West in ’21.

Each of the retiring umpires made his mark in the history books. West umpired a record 5,460 MLB games over 45 years. He set the record, previously held by Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem, on May 25, 2021, at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago during a game between the White Sox and Cardinals.

Davis umpired 4,849 regular-season games, which ranks fourth all-time. He also worked a record 151 postseason games during his 38-year career in the Majors.

Danley spent 25 years umpiring in the Majors after becoming a collegiate All-American baseball player at San Diego State University, where he was teammates with future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. In 2020, Danley became the first Black crew chief in MLB history.

Culbreth also umpired in the Major Leagues for 25 years, during which time he worked three World Series (2008, '12 and '18) and was a member of the umpiring crew for the game in which Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. collected his 3,000th career hit.

Gorman also worked three World Series (2004, ’09 and ’12) during a 30-year career. The son of former MLB player and umpire Tom Gorman, Brian also represented the Major League Umpires on MLB’s Playing Rules Committee for many years.

With the retirement of these five longtime umpires, the new Major League umpiring crew chiefs are Laz Díaz, Greg Gibson, Marvin Hudson, Ron Kulpa and Bill Welke.