Longtime umpire 'Cowboy Joe' West on verge of MLB history

By , NewsRadio 1120 KMOX

CHICAGO -- When the first pitch of the game is thrown between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox Tuesday night, umpire Joe West will become the all-time leader for games worked with 5,376. It's unlikely his record will ever be beaten.

West, 68, started his Major League career in 1976 and depending on who you ask is either the worst or best umpire in baseball. He's been fined for grabbing a Jonathan Papelbon's jersey and calling Adrian Beltre the "biggest complainer" in the league. He was also asked by Nelson Cruz to take a photo with him in the middle of an All-Star Game, a picture which Yadier Molina took. And many other players, like David Freese, have professed their respect for him.

He will surpass the record held for 80 years by Hall of Famer Bill Klem. It appears to be unbreakable because umpires are no longer allowed to work more than 120 games in a season, don't make the big leagues until they are at least 30-years-old and robot umpires appear on the horizon. There's no chance we'll see a 75-year-old ump out there one day.

"Cowboy Joe" has worked in 23 different postseasons, six World Series and three All-Star Games. He's made 193 ejections in his career – less than half of Klem's 346.

West has also appeared in the movie "The Naked Gun" in a role as an MLB umpire, he's recorded multiple country music albums and even won $500,000 a defamation suit against former player Paul Lo Duca, who claimed he was brided by another player.

He's planning to retire after this season.

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