Joe West breaks umpiring record with 5,376th game


CHICAGO (AP) — No arguing this: Cowboy Joe is No. 1 on the chart.

Joe West set baseball’s umpiring record when the St. Louis Cardinals visited the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night. West was behind the plate for his 5,376th regular-season game, snapping a tie with Hall of Famer Bill Klem.


West got his picture taken with his crew before the game started, and also posed for photos with managers Tony La Russa of the White Sox and Mike Shildt of the Cardinals.

After the lineup cards were exchanged, St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright walked out to the plate to shake West’s hand.

The White Sox recognized West’s achievement on the scoreboard, and then showed a video with country music star Garth Brooks and some of West’s former and current umpiring colleagues offering their congratulations. The crowd responded with mostly boos.


The colorful West, who turns 69 on Oct. 31, is perhaps the most famous umpire in major league history, known for his memorable run-ins with several players and managers over the years, to go along with at least one executive.

He also fashions himself as a country music singer and songwriter, leading to the nicknames “Cowboy Joe” and “Country Joe.” The Oak Ridge Boys, members of the Country Music Hall of Fame and friends with West, sung the national anthem before his record-breaking game.

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