Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Better Know An Umpire: Bill Welke

Illustration for article titled 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.)

Illustration for article titled Better Know An Umpire: Bill Welke

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:


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