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
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
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
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.