MLB News: Four Long-Time Umpires Retire

bob davidson

Major League Baseball has announced umpires Bob Davidson, John Hirschbeck, Jim Joyce, and Tim Welke have retired.

Davidson, also known as Balkin’ Bob for his propensity to call balks, began as a National League umpire in 1982. Davidson has long been a controversial umpire, whether it was him being a part of a group that tried to lead an umpire strike, his being the rare umpire suspended by baseball for his repeated acts of escalating and instigating altercations, or his ejecting a fan for heckling Yadier Molina

John Hirschbeck began working as an American League umpire in 1984. He leaves behind a mixed legacy that has seen him as a respected umpire that worked five World Series, including being the crew chief of last year’s World Series.

Hirschbeck was also seen as a confrontational umpire that was prone to look for fights. The most notorious incident was when Roberto Alomar spit in his face. The incident was rumored to be escalated by Hirschbeck who some have alleged to have used a homophobic slur. Hirschbeck and Alomar eventually made amends with Alomar making a donation for adrenoleukodystrophy research. Hirschbeck’s late son died from the disease.

Jim Joyce began working as an American League umpire in 1987. His career was marked by two calls: one right and a wrong one..

In Game 3 of the 2013 World Series, he ruled Will Middlebrooks obstructed Allen Craig on the base paths while diving for an errant Jarrod Saltalamacchia throw. It would be the first time a World Series game would end on an obstruction call.

The biggest call was his career was improperly ruling Jason Donald beat out Miguel Cabrera‘s flip to Armando Galarraga. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, the call cost Galarraga a perfect game. Joyce was distraught over the missed call. Before the next game, he and Galarraga shook hands at home plate.

Tom Welke began working as an American League umpire in 1984, has not worked a game since 2015, and he is retiring after needing a second knee surgery. Welke had a largely inauspicious career, albeit with a good reputation. His claim to fame was ejecting Bobby Cox in Game 6 of the 1996 World Series which is, to date, the last ejection in World Series play.

From a Mets point of view, Welke was the second base umpire during Game 2 of the 2000 World Series. As such, he was part of an umpiring crew that did not see it fit to eject Roger Clemens for throwing a bat at Mike Piazza. Welke’s younger brother, Bill, is currently a major league umpire.

Unfortunately for Mets fans, it appears Angel Hernandez will continue to serve as an umpire.

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About John Sheridan 740 Articles
John was raised to be a Mets fan by birth, and now he is raising a Mets fan of his own. He also uses Sabermetrics to either confirm the proverbial eye test or to see if we're seeing things with Mets colored glasses. He looks forward to bringing this perspective to MMO. His work, including the tales of raising his son a Mets fan, can also be seen at