West works 5,164th game, 2nd among umps

Twins, Pirates pause after 5th inning to recognize accomplishment

August 15th, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS -- Longtime umpire Joe West worked the 5,164th game of his Major League career on Wednesday afternoon at Target Field, breaking a tie with Bruce Froemming for second most on the all-time list.

The Twins and Pirates paused after the fifth inning to recognize West's accomplishment, while his fellow umpire crew of Doug Eddings, Marty Foster and Mark Ripperger helped honor him postgame with balloons, a cake, the third-base bag and a bottle of Dom Perignon to celebrate the milestone. Only Hall of Famer Bill Klem (5,375 games) has worked more Major League games than the 65-year-old West. West began his career as a National League umpire in 1976, becoming full time in '78.

"I don't know exactly what to say," West said after the game won by the Twins, 6-4. "It's been a long time. I never dreamed when I started I get this far. A lot of things have happened since I started. It's a 40-year journey. From coming up as a former college football player to be on the field with some of the greatest athletes in the world, it's like a dream come true. It's like a fairy tale. There were some ups and downs along the way, but this is one of the nice ups."

After the fifth inning, the Twins posted a congratulatory message on the scoreboard at Target Field. His girlfriend, Rita Scott, and brother, John, joined West at third base.

"It was very kind of the Twins to do what they did," West said. "They didn't have to put that up on the videoboard. Even [Twins manager Paul] Molitor was saying, 'Good job.' So it was nice. I had my family come out. It was great."

West's 40-year career is the longest ever by a big league umpire. He has also called 123 postseason games, more than anyone but Gerry Davis (143), and he has worked more World Series games (34) than any active Major League umpire. He said he has a goal to catch Klem for the most games umpired all-time.

"It's two seasons to catch him," West said. "Hopefully, my legs hold up and we can make it."

The second-most games umpired by a current umpire is 4,470 games by Davis, who is also 65 years old. No other active umpires are within 1,000 games of West.

"It'll never happen again, ever -- put it that way," said Eddings, who has umpired in the big leagues since '98. "It's history. No one is close enough to ever get there again."