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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Ángel Hernández’s Career and Crusade End With Retirement Settlement 

  • The umpire announced his retirement Monday, saying he wants to spend more time with family.
  • He was notorious among players and fans for his controversial calls.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball’s most controversial umpire is calling it quits after reportedly reaching a settlement with MLB. Ángel Hernández, 62, announced his immediate retirement Monday through a statement issued by the league, saying his decision rested on wanting to spend more time with family.

“Needless to say, there have been many positive changes in the game of baseball since I first entered the profession. This includes the expansion and promotion of minorities,” said Hernández, who was born in Cuba. “I am proud that I was able to be an active participant in that goal while being a major league umpire.”

Hernández sued MLB for racial discrimination in 2017. Judges have consistently taken the league’s side in the case, saying Hernández was unable to show a “statistically significant disparity,” and the case was ultimately tossed in ’23.

ESPN and USA Today both reported that the official and league had reached a financial settlement, with the latter saying negotiations occurred over the last two weeks before the parties came to an agreement this weekend. Hernández’s final game was May 9 between the Guardians and White Sox, his eighth game of this season after sitting out last season until July 31 with a back injury.

The announcement of Hernández’s retirement was met with cheers from his haters on social media. Hernández was long the bane of players, managers, and fans, both for his missed calls and aggressive handling of players. Former pitcher CC Sabathia, an outspoken critic of Hernández, posted a clip on X of the Looney Tunes’ signature “That’s all folks” Monday night. Jomboy Media compiled a thread on X of the umpire’s most controversial moments.

MLB’s own evaluation system never flagged Hernández as the worst umpire in the league, according to USA Today. Moreover, Hernández’s lawyer, Kevin L. Murphy, said in a statement to Front Office Sports that the umpire was not forced out of the league because of his ratings, saying that wouldn’t have been allowed under league policies given his scores.

“This was something he had been contemplating for a while. Think about the fact that he has not had a summer with his family since 1991,” Murphy said.

Hernández’s unsuccessful suit claimed the league routinely passed over him and other minority umpires for its biggest games. His three-decade-long career included two World Series, three All-Star Games, and eight League Championship Series, though he hasn’t officiated any of those events since 2017, the same year he filed the lawsuit. In court, MLB argued its issues with Hernández’s performance was not strictly about boundary calls or balls and strikes, but his notorious demeanor on the field, including not owning up to missed calls and being quick to hand out ejections instead of warnings.

Murphy, Hernández’s lawyer, said that although the suit ultimately failed in court, the umpire deserved credit for increased racial diversity among umpires and league executives. He called post-2017 changes in hiring for both crew chiefs and the commissioner’s office “a lasting legacy for Angel Hernández.”

—A.J. Perez contributed to this story.

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