There are many Blue Jays memories that involve long-time umpire Joe West, but there will be no more now that MLB’s record holder for most games umpired has hung up his cleats.
The 69 year old has long been one of the well known faces of officiating in big league baseball, and not always for the right reasons. That’ll happen when you work an MLB record 5,460 games, and let’s face it, even the best officials can’t please most fans on a good day.
West began his big league career with his first assignment in 1976, and was awarded a full-time gig in the National League that began in 1978. This is a guy that worked the game that saw Willie McCovey hit his 500th career home run, so “Cowboy Joe West” has been kicking around for a very long time.
With all due respect to the umpiring legend, I’m not here to write a tribute. Instead, I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the most memorable moments of his career that involved the Blue Jays. I’m sure I’ll miss some of the great ones from over the years, especially in the early years in franchise history. I mean, the guy started in the big leagues a year before the Blue Jays were even part of MLB, so that should give you an idea of the kind of sample size we’re talking about here.
They say the best officials are the ones that you don’t even notice, but for better or worse, I can remember my Dad talking about West as far back as the early part of my childhood. Let’s look back at some of those Blue Jays moments.