Jan 4, 2023 - Sports

10 MLB umpires retire in historic exodus

MLB umpires

The umpire crew during the 2022 World Series. Photo: Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Ten Major League Baseball umpires, including seven crew chiefs, retired at the end of December — the largest turnover for the position since 1999, ESPN reports.

Why it matters: The 10 umps have worked over 200 combined MLB seasons and 16 World Series — professional experience that won't be easily replaced. MLB will promote their replacements from the minors this month.

The retiring crew chiefs:

  • Tom Hallion (29 years of MLB service time): He's been on the field in some capacity for seven no-hitters, which was the most among active umpires.
  • Ted Barrett (25 years): Worked five World Series, most among the group retiring. He was behind the plate for David Cone's perfect game in 1999 and Greg Maddux's 300th win in 2004.
  • Jerry Meals (24 years): He was behind the plate for Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game in 1998.
  • Greg Gibson (23 years): He was behind the plate for Randy Johnson's perfect game in 2004; owns a Kentucky-based insurance company.
  • Jim Reynolds (22.5 years): There are costs to being an ump: In the last six years alone, he's had seven concussions because of foul tips.
  • Bill Welke (22.5 years): He and his brother Tim were paired on the same crew in 2005 and again from 2008 to 2010.
  • Sam Holbrook (21.5 years): He was the home plate umpire for Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, the day the Cubs broke their 108-year curse.

The backdrop: The coming seasons will be a challenge for umpires, as MLB continues to experiment with rule changes and robo-umps inch closer to calling big league games.

  • MLB will use a pitch timer in 2023 and it will be on home plate umpires to enforce it.
  • Meanwhile, base umpires will have to make sure the new shift rules are being followed.
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