Better Know An Umpire: Jeff Nelson

Illustration for article titled Better Know An Umpire: Jeff Nelson

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. (All cumulative statistics are through the 2011 season, unless otherwise stated.)


Name: Jeff Nelson

Uniform number: 45

Age: 47

Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 196 pounds

First year as MLB umpire: 1997

Total MLB games worked through 2011: 1,784 (home plate: 445)

Previous experience: Pioneer League, Arizona Instructional League, Florida State League, Eastern League, American Association, Pacific Coast League, Florida State Instructional League, Arizona Fall League

Career ejections: 37

No-hitters called: None

Over/under record (1999-2011): 192-210

Hated in: Baltimore, Detroit, DC, Boston

Notable alleged blown calls: Orioles-Rangers, August 20, 2010; Red Sox-Tigers, May 28, 2012; Red Sox-Royals, May 9, 2012; Orioles-Nationals, May 1, 2012.


Claim to fame: Missed almost three months of the 2007 season after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, but returned to call a Twins game in late August.

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

Nelson went over to the hitters' side in 2009. ... His his 2009 numbers been at all consistent with the other three seasons, his R/9 would be the lowest of all umpires ... Nelson has an average fuse, compiling a career ejection rate of two percent.


Scouting report from angry Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine:

Guys battled their butts off, that's all I know. That's a damn shame. Fucking umpire can't make a right call and get help to get it done. It's a damn shame is what it is. Be stubborn. It's not his job to call the frigging play. Just get help. It's a damn shame is what that is. It's a damn shame.


Average K/9 (2011): 15.7

Average BB/9 (2011): 6.1

Sample PITCHf/x strike zone: August 20, 2010. Nelson ejected Baltimore's Nick Markakis for arguing a called strike, but the pitch was several inches feet off the plate.

Illustration for article titled Better Know An Umpire: Jeff Nelson

True fact: A native of Minnesota who graduated from Bethel University in 1987, Nelson worked home plate for the first regular-season game at Target Field.


On umpiring: "My skill is balls and strikes, safes and outs. I enjoy the challenge of competing against perfection."

Strike 3 call:


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