Umpire Joe West is called “Cowboy Joe” because he’s the only umpire to record two country music albums in Nashville. As a singer and songwriter, Joe West is currently the most tenured umpire in all of Major League Baseball. West played quarterback and pitched in college. I was his suitemate for a time, while we were in college together. West, who wears #22, started his umpiring career in 1976. He has worked five World Series, two All-Star Games, and many league and division series. Joe was the crew chief during the 2005 World Series. West worked Nolan Ryan’s fifth no-hitter and was on the field when Willie McCovey hit his 500 home run.
You know umpires are funny guys, too. One time, West and some of his fellow umpires gave Vin Scully a gift. It was a book entitled Everything I Know about Broadcasting by Vin Scully. “When you open the book,” laughs Scully, “every page is completely blank. I keep it out on display at my home in the living room for all to see.”