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Umpire Sues MLB for Racial Discrimination
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Angel Hernandez

Summary: An MLB umpire is suing the league, alleging racial discrimination because he has been passed over for higher opportunities.

An umpire for the MLB is suing the league claiming racial discrimination in regards to job promotions. Angel Hernandez filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Cincinnati against the league and commissioner Rob Manfred for “racial discrimination in baseball’s promotion and postseason assignment policies.” He specifically states a bad relationship with Joe Torre, MLB Chief Baseball Officer, as the reason for the discrimination.


The 55-year-old umpire claims to have been passed over multiple times for possible World Series positions even though he has “high marks on evaluations.” The MLB has roughly 100 umpires but only “about 10 are African-American or Hispanic,” according to the Enquirer. Since 2011, only one non-white umpire has worked the World Series. Only one non-white umpire has ever been given a permanent position as crew chief since 1993. There have been 23 umpires promoted to the position of crew chief since 2000, none of which were non-white.

The lawsuit notes that Torre has a personal vendetta against Hernandez, holding a personal grudge since the time when Torre was the manager of the New York Yankees. Hernandez made a call during 2001 game that left Torre fuming, stating that the umpire “just wanted to be noticed over there.” Torre joined the league’s main office in 2011. Since then “the notion that Hernandez ‘just wanted to be noticed’ permeated Hernandez’s yearly evaluations, as did Torre’s general negative attitude towards Hernandez.”

The 2017 Racial and Gender Report Card notes that of the MLB players, 31.9 percent are Latino and 42.5 percent are non-white. The lawsuit states, “The selection of these less qualified, white individuals over Hernandez was motivated by racial, national origin and/or ethnic considerations.”

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Hernandez has been with the MLB since 1993. He worked the 2002 World Series and the 2005 World Series. He has not received an assignment since then for the World Series. He has worked National League Championship Series seven times, with the latest being just last year. Umpires that work the big event receive extra compensation so not receiving the positions is a loss of extra income. Hernandez also claims he has been passed over for permanent crew chief positions several times.

Torre claims Hernandez has not been promoted to crew chief because he needs to “gain greater mastery of the official playing rules and replay regulations, continue to improve situation management, and display an ability to refocus and move forward after missing calls or receiving constructive feedback from the office.”

He has also filed discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last month. His suit against the MLB and Manfred is requesting back pay and compensatory damages.

An ESPN poll in 2010 of 100 MLB players put Hernandez as the third-worst umpire in the league. The worst and second-worst were C.B. Bucknor and Joe West.

With the majority of umpires being white, is it surprising that very few non-white umpires are promoted? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about issues the MLB has to deal with, read these articles:





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