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: Tim Welke
Uniform number: 3 (crew chief)
Height/weight: 6-foot-3, 230 pounds
First year as MLB umpire: 1983
Total MLB games worked through 2011: 3,729 (home plate: 944)
Previous experience: Gulf Coast League, Florida State League, Eastern League, American Association, Florida Instructional League, Dominican Winter League
Career ejections: 71
No-hitters called: Zero
Over/under record (1999-2011): 172-178
Hated in: Los Angeles, Cleveland
Claim to fame: One of the few umpires to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated (October 19, 1998):
Scouting report from Major League Umpires' Performance, 2007-2010, by Andy Goldblatt:
Welke is not the heavy-handed type. ... Since 2007, his ejection rate has dropped to one percent. ... Welke's overall K/BB ratio is six percent higher than average, further evidence that he defaults to strikes.
Scouting report from an Internet message board:
I started watching the 96 World Series one up until game 2 when the Braves were absolutely dominating. Then I stopped the show while it was still happy and accidentally(seriously) deleted it. Of course it doesn't matter since I remember those next 4 games in great detail. Fuck Tim Welke, fuck Jim Leyritz, and fuck Tim Welke again. I've never seen an umpire stand in the way of a fielder like that.
Average K/9 (2010): 15.05
Average BB/9 (2010): 5.59
True fact: Wrote a letter to the editor after his SI cover:
I was hurt and disappointed by your use of my picture on the cover of your Oct. 19 issue, which bore the headline KILL THE UMPS! In 22 years as a professional umpire, I have approached games with an ideal of fairness and common sense. I strive to get every play or pitch right.
An essential part of the baseball drama is the human element. An umpire is part of that. I perceive the play, apply the rules and make the decision, all in real time. Under these circumstances, questionable calls sometimes happen, just like rainouts and brawls. My role is to decide what is right. I cannot, like Solomon, split the baby. On any call, half the players and fans will be disappointed.
The dismay I felt when you used my picture was brought home when my nine-year-old son asked me, "Dad, does this mean they want to kill you?" In my job I am accountable to and scrutinized by many. I now ask if you are equally accountable for your irresponsible choice of words, which denigrates the game of baseball and causes me undeserved anguish?
On umpiring: "At the end of the day, the goal is to get it right. Our goal is not to have anything to do with who wins or loses."
Strike 3 call:
To check out other installments of Better Know An Umpire, click here.