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Controversial Major League Baseball umpire Ángel Hernández to retire after three decades

By Wayne Sterling, CNN

(CNN) — With a reputation among baseball players and fans as one of the worst umpires in the game, the baseball world will no longer have Ángel Hernández to kick around.

The umpire that fans and players loved to hate – one of the more controversial figures in the game – has retired after more than three decades.

“Starting with my first Major League game in 1991, I have had the very good experience of living out my childhood dream of umpiring in the Major Leagues,” Hernández said in a statement Monday night. “There is nothing better than working at a profession that you enjoy.

“I treasured the camaraderie of my colleagues and the friendships I have made along the way, including our locker room attendants in all the various cities.”

During his career, Hernández was an unpopular figure – often skewered by irate fans, players and managers for suspect ball and strike calls and other controversial on-field decisions. His highlights and lowlights live forever on replay and the internet, becoming a bit of a punching bag on social media platforms.

In 2023, as a third base umpire, Hernández called Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper out on a questionable checked swing on a full count – three balls and two strikes. Harper argued the call and was ejected.

After the game, Harper told reporters, “It’s Ángel in the middle of something again.
It’s just, every year, it’s the same story. … It’s the same thing over and over and over and over again. It’s just not right.”

In 2022, Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber threw his bat and helmet, screaming at Hernández after a suspect third strike call in the ninth inning of a 1-0 game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Schwarber, who was promptly ejected, went ballistic, with hand gestures and histrionics.

After the Boston Red Sox won Game 4 of the 2018 ALDS, New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia called Hernández “absolutely terrible” in a post-game interview. “He shouldn’t be anywhere near a playoff game,” Sabathia said.

Following a video review, three of Hernández’s calls from Game 3 of that series were overturned.

One social media site, Umpire Auditor, a site that critiques the men in blue, posted a thank you to Hernández for all of the material he provided through the years.

“From the bottom of my heart, thank you Ángel Hernández. You gave me more content than I could have possibly dreamed of. I didn’t deserve you. Enjoy your retirement, king,” the post reads.

In 2017, the Cuban native sued MLB for racial discrimination, in part, because he had not been promoted.

A US district judge in 2021 and a federal appeals court in 2023 rejected the lawsuit.

Hernández joined the Major League staff in 1993, two years after calling his first game as a call-up umpire. He umpired 12 Division Series, eight League Championship Series, two World Series and three All-Star Games.

“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. I am proud that I was able to be an active participant in that goal while being a Major League umpire,” Hernández added.

On March 22, 2016, he and another MLB umpire were a part of the historic exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team at Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana.

Hernández witnessed then Detroit Tigers pitcher Spencer Turnbull’s no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners in May 2021 behind the plate.

His last game was the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Guardians contest on May 9 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago.

The 62-year-old said he wants to spend more time with his family.

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