Angel Hernandez’s worst umpiring calls against the Mets and Yankees

Angel Hernandez argues with Yankees players and manager
FILE – New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone, center, argues a call with umpire Angel Hernandez, right, as Gleyber Torres, left, watches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, April 7, 2024, in New York. Longtime umpire Hernández, who unsuccessfully sued Major League Baseball for racial discrimination, is retiring immediately, announced Monday, May 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

Reports of Angel Hernandez’s retirement on the tail end of Memorial Day Weekend filled Mets and Yankees fans with euphoria. 

The controversial umpire known for inexplicably wide strike zones and impossibly bad calls had a knack for drawing the wrath of fans, players, the press and broadcasters alike. 

Hernandez started calling balls and strikes professionally when he was 20 for the Florida State League. Night in and night out, he worked his way up and had his big break by getting into the minors and then majors in ’91.

“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,” Hernandez said in a statement. “I have decided that I want to spend more time with my family.”

With Hernandez behind the plate, it almost became expected to hear the groans of fans at his outside-the-zone calls.

Pitchers have pushed themselves and their arms to fit in his strike zone, otherwise a mistake could cause them more runs than usual, and batters have pleaded their case to him on multiple occasions to no avail, whether a pitch was too far off the plate, or they really were safe in swiping a bag on the basepaths.

Umpire Angel Hernandez
FILE – Umpire Ángel Hernández looks on during the first inning of a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros, Aug. 4, 2023, in New York. Longtime umpire Hernández, who unsuccessfully sued Major League Baseball for racial discrimination, is retiring immediately, announced Monday, May 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

It comes as a surprise that on Monday night, baseball insider Bob Nightengale broke the news that Hernandez is formally retiring from Major League Baseball on Tuesday. 

The Cuban-American umpire, 62, concludes his career after over three decades of experience on the job, and is the first to decide to step back from his role this year. This isn’t a column to bash him (read here if you want that, though). If you really think I’m biased, look up his Wikipedia page.

One of the most famous incidents revolving around his umpiring was on the eve of the All-Star Break in 1998 between the Mets and the Braves. In extras, Atlanta runner Michael Tucker tagged up on a fly ball to left where Hernández ruled Tucker safe; replay showed the throw to Mets catcher Mike Piazza beat Tucker, and that Tucker had never reached home plate. 

Following the game, Piazza said the call was the worst he had ever seen in his baseball career. Some alluded that Hernandez was in a hurry to finish the game instead of officiating properly.

Hernandez incurred the wrath of Yankees fans and players as well. Following a playoff loss in 2018, Yankees starter CC Sabathia pulled no punches in chastizing Hernandez, who was the home plate umpire.

“I don’t think Angel Hernandez should be umping playoff games,” Sabathia said then. “He’s absolutely terrible. He was terrible behind the plate, terrible at first base. It’s amazing how he’s getting a job to umpiring these playoff games.” 

Hernandez’s last major league game was on May 9, in the White Sox’s 3-2 win over the Guardians where he called balls and strikes.

Nonetheless, Hernandez retires after a happy career in the majors — despite unsuccessfully suing MLB over alleged racial discrimination for not getting assignments to ump the World Series.

“There is nothing better than working at a profession that you enjoy,” he said. “I treasured the camaraderie of my colleagues and the friendships I have made along the way, including the locker room attendants in all the various cities.” 

Judging by local fans reaction on X (formerly Twitter), Hernandez is not alone in the ecstasy.