Better Know An Umpire: Bill Welke

Welcome to Better Know An Umpire, an effort to educate ourselves on the human elements who have ultimate decision-making power over some 2,500 Major League Baseball games a year.

Name: Bill Welke

Uniform number: 52

Age: 44

Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 240 pounds

First year as MLB umpire: 1999

Total MLB games worked through 2011: 1,655 (home plate: 414)

Previous experience: Appalachian League, Midwest League, Florida State League, Southern League, Eastern League, International League

Career ejections: 59

No-hitters called: None

Over/under record (1999-2011): 154-154

Hated in: Baltimore, Los Angeles

Notable alleged blown calls: Yankees-Braves, June 24, 2009; Padres-Pirates, July 23, 2010

Claim to fame: Inexplicably ejecting Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw for retaliating against Arizona's Gerardo Parra (September 14, 2011).

Scouting report from Major League Umpires' Performance, 2007-2010, by Andy Goldblatt:

Neither hitters nor pitchers would be inclined to say Bill Welke sucks, because he gives each a reason to like him. ... He calls seven percent fewer walks than the average umpire. ... Welke's career ejection rate is 3.7 percent, substantially higher than average.

Scouting report from a random blog commenter:

I hope that the next time Welke orders a BBQ dinner, he gets a big plate of elbows so he can figure out the fucking difference

Average K/9 (2010): 14.24

Average BB/9 (2010): 5.29

Sample PITCHf/x strike zone: August 26, 2011. Welke ejected Toronto's Jose Bautista for arguing balls and strikes. (Called strikes on Blue Jay hitters are shown as red triangles.)

Better Know An Umpire: Bill WelkeS

True fact: Once helped a Kalamazoo Wiffle League team maintain its impeccable record.

On umpiring: "I'd hate to make a call that could affect maybe the World Series and be wrong and everybody in the world knows it but me, standing out there. It makes us do a better job."

Strike 3 call:

Better Know An Umpire: Bill Welke

To check out other installments of Better Know An Umpire, click here.