MAJOR LEAGUE SERVICE TIME: 36 Years
CAREER: Joe's 36-year career makes him the senior umpire among all active umpires and his 4,559 regular season games rank fifth all-time, behind three Hall of Famers and Bruce Froemming, who, Joe says, "should be a Hall of Famer"...Joe was first in his class at the Umpire Development School in 1974 and started his career in the Western Carolinas League (now the South Atlantic, or "Sally," League)...he was inducted into the Sally League Hall of Fame in 2002...in 1975, he started the season in the Carolina League and in June was promoted to the Southern League, where he stayed until August of 1976, when he was promoted to the American Association at the end of the season...on September 13 of that year, he worked his first game as a National League Umpire, making him one of only four people ever to umpire in the Major Leagues at age 23...he worked eight Major League games that September and another 48 in 1977 before being promoted to the N.L. staff in 1978...in 1981 he became the youngest umpire in N.L. history to work a League Championship Series...he has since worked seven more, as well as five World Series, seven Division Series and two All-Star Games...worked the 2013 N.L. Wild Card Game between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh...his 108 Postseason games rank fourth in Baseball history...he has worked with more than 130 Major League Umpires in exhibition, regular season and Postseason games...including the 2014 class, he has umpired games for 35 Hall of Fame players, six Hall of Fame managers and seven Hall of Fame players who became managers...has umpired with two Hall of Fame Umpires and, as Joe says, "many more that should be"...he has been a Major League Umpire for five of the nine Commissioners of Major League Baseball...ran unopposed for his second and third terms as President of the World Umpires Association.
PERSONAL: Born in Asheville, NC in October 1952...played college football at East Carolina (safety on the freshman team) and was three-year starting quarterback at Elon College (now Elon University), where he threw for 4,337 yards and 35 touchdowns, leading the team to three Carolinas Conference Championships and a number two national ranking in NAIA Division 1 in 1973...was named MVP of that 1973 team whose only loss was in the Championship Game (for NAIA Division 1) to Abilene Christian, led by future Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Clint Longley and Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Famer Wilbur Montgomery...Joe was inducted into the Elon Sports Hall of Fame in 1986, in the same class as legendary North Carolina State Women's Basketball Coach Kay Yow...designed all of Wilson Sporting Goods' "high-end" umpires equipment and owns the patent and trademark rights to the chest protector known worldwide as the "West Vest," an endeavor that prompted him to found majorleagueumpires.com...with a single-digit handicap, Joe participates in the "World Series of Golf" held at Pebble Beach each December.« Back to umpire roster