Watch CBS News

Ángel Hernández, controversial umpire scorned by players and fans, retires after 33-year career

Bryce Harper on Angel Hernandez: "It's just, every year it's the same story, same thing"
Bryce Harper on Angel Hernandez: "It's just, every year it's the same story, same thing" 00:40

Longtime umpire Ángel Hernández, who unsuccessfully sued Major League Baseball for racial discrimination, is retiring immediately.

During a career that lasted more than three decades, the 62-year-old Hernández was often scorned by players, managers and fans for missed calls and quick ejections — some in high-profile situations.

Hernández issued a statement through MLB on Monday night saying he has decided he wants to spend more time with his family.

"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. 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," Hernández said.

Pirates Phillies Baseball
Philadelphia Phillies manager Rob Thomson, center, stands between Bryce Harper and umpire Ángel Hernández during the third inning of the team's baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, in Philadelphia. Harper was ejected. Matt Rourke / AP

"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."

Last summer, Hernández lost for a second time in his racial discrimination lawsuit against MLB when a federal appeals court refused to reinstate his case. The 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a 2021 District Court decision that granted MLB a summary judgment.

Hernández sued in 2017. He alleged he was discriminated against because he had not been assigned to the World Series since 2005 and had been passed over for crew chief. He served as an interim crew chief from 2011-16.

"Hernández has failed to establish a statistically significant disparity between the promotion rates of white and minority umpires," the 2nd Circuit said in an 11-page decision. "MLB has provided persuasive expert evidence demonstrating that, during the years at issue, the difference in crew chief promotion rates between white and minority umpires was not statistically significant. Hernández offers no explanation as to why MLB's statistical evidence is unreliable."

Hernández was sidelined by a back injury last season until July 31. This year he was behind the plate eight times, including for his final game May 9 between the Cleveland Guardians and Chicago White Sox.

USA Today and ESPN, each citing an anonymous source, reported Hernández reached a settlement to leave MLB. USA Today reported the sides spent the last two weeks negotiating a financial settlement before coming to an agreement this past weekend.

Born in Cuba, Hernández was hired as a big league umpire in 1993. He worked two World Series (2002, 2005), three All-Star Games (1999, 2009, 2017) and eight League Championship Series, with his last LCS assignment coming in 2016.

In Game 3 of the 2018 AL Division Series between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, Hernández had three calls at first base overturned on video replay reviews.

As CBS Sports notes, Hernández continued to provoke criticism as recently as last month when Rangers broadcasters took him to task over tight calls against rookie Wyatt Langford.

Other players like Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber have had noteworthy dust-ups with Hernández in recent years. After he was ejected by Hernández last September, Harper said: "It's just, every year it's the same story, same thing."

Hernández's lawyer defended him last month.

"Ángel is a very good umpire, and in spite of what the media says, baseball has recognized it as well," his attorney, Kevin Murphy, told the Wall Street Journal as part of a profile in which Hernández did not participate.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.