Controversial Major League Baseball umpire Ángel Hernández is retiring after three decades

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

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

“From my first Major League game in 1991, I have had the very good experience of fulfilling my childhood dream of being a referee in the Major Leagues,” Hernández said in a statement Monday evening. “Nothing is better than working in a profession that you enjoy.

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

During his career, Hernández was an unpopular figure, often heckled by irate fans, players and managers for suspicious ball and strike calls and other controversial on-field decisions. His highs and lows live on 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 out Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper with a questionable checked swing on a full count – three balls and two strikes. Harper argued over the call and was ejected.

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

In 2022, Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber threw his bat and helmet and yelled at Hernández after a suspicious 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.

After 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 criticizes the men in blue, posted a thank you to Hernández for all the material he has provided over the years.

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

Hernández calls Adam Frazier of the Pittsburgh Pirates safe after a play at the plate during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers.  -Justin Berl/Getty ImagesHernández calls Adam Frazier of the Pittsburgh Pirates safe after a play at the plate during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers.  -Justin Berl/Getty Images

Hernández calls Adam Frazier of the Pittsburgh Pirates safe after a play at the plate during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers. -Justin Berl/Getty Images

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

A U.S. district judge in 2021 and a federal appeals court in 2023 dismissed the lawsuit.

Hernández joined the Major League staff in 1993, two years after playing his first game as a call-up umpire. He has refereed 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 advancement of minorities. I am proud that I was able to be an active participant in that goal while being a Major League referee,” Hernández added.

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

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

His last game was the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Guardians game 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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