On Wednesday, the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field, 4-0. They took two games of the three-game interleague series, and once again, it was interesting, to say the least. This time, umpire Joe West stole the show during that game.
Game one brought us a brawl between two women in the bleachers, on Tuesday, there was a high school reunion and the San Diego Chicken. On Wednesday, West found an illegal substance on the hat of Cardinals pitcher Giovanny Gallegos.
Hat Is Confiscated
The controversy began during the seventh inning as Gallegos’ was jogging to the mound from the dugout. He was brought into the game with one out in the seventh to pitch after Genesis Cabrera hit Yoan Moncada, which sent runners to first and second base. It was at that moment that second base umpire Dan Bellino noticed the substance on the brim of Gallegos’ hat.
When asked to remove his cap Gallegos’ defended himself by saying that the substance was sunscreen, but regardless the hat was still ejected from the game. Gallegos, however, was allowed to stay as long as he agreed to wear another cap. The tainted cap was then sent to the commissioner’s office for examination.
Shildt Is Ejected
Cardinals’ Manager Mike Shildt argued the call saying that Gallegos’ was unfairly singled out. After using a few choice words to express his discontent about the call, he was ejected from the game. He had this to say about his player:
“Gio wears the same hat all year, and hats accrue dirt. Hats accrue substances,” says Shildt.
What Shildt was pointing out was the fact that the sunscreen might not have been on Gallegos’ hat to begin with. He may have been wearing it on his face to prevent melanoma/sunburn, and he may have wiped it on his hands before touching his hat.
It may have been something random that could have happened to any player on the team, especially one of the guys manning the outfield.
Or was it rosin? Possibly, but is this a controversy that MLB wants to take on at the moment? Probably not. Shildt went to say that policing foreign substances on players’ hats shouldn’t have
to be part of their job description.
Either you love him, or you hate him, but at Tuesday night’s game between the Cardinals and the White Sox, Umpire Joe West was booed as he broke Joe Klem’s record for the most games officiated as an umpire. West, 68, began his career in 1976, becoming a full-time umpire in 1978. During the fifth inning of Tuesday nights’ game, it became official. He helped call his 5,376 innings on the field. He now stands alone after breaking a record that has stood for more than 80 years.
He was honored at the game by the Oak Ridge Boys, who wore White Sox jerseys. At West’s request, they sang the National Anthem. He was congratulated by an airing of current and former umpires before the game, which also included a message from country music singer Garth Brooks.
Retirement On The Horizon
In his 43-year career in MLB, West has seen it all. In his first full season as an umpire West was part of the crew that saw Willie McCovey hit his 500th career home run. It was during that same year that he also had the opportunity to watch Pete Rose tie and break the National League record for most games played with a hit.
He’s called six World Series match-ups, including the one in 2016 where the Chicago Cubs won their third championship, ending their 108-year drought. He’s also been a part of three All-Star Games, his most recent being the one played in 2017.
West was also the brains behind the “West Vest,” a chest protector made of Lexan. It has protected many umpires from serious injuries, something I know they have all been grateful for.
His not-so-great moments include a game in 1983 where he was suspended for three days and fined $500 for shoving Joe Torre, who at the time was managing the Atlanta Braves. In 1999, West along with 21 other umpires submitted resignations during a labor dispute. Their resignations were accepted, but then in 2002, West was re-hired.
He has announced that after the 2021 season, he will hang up his “West Vest” for the very last time when he begins his retirement.
As Tom Hanks said in ‘A League Of Their Own, ’ “There’s no crying in baseball,” but as West calls his last time, it’s guaranteed there won’t be a dry in the house.
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