MAJOR LEAGUE SERVICE TIME: 39 Years
CAREER: Joe's 39-year career ranks as the most ever by a Major League Umpire...his 4,942 regular season games entering 2017 rank third behind Bill Klemm's 5,375 games and Bruce Froemming's 5,163...per researcher David Vincent, Joe's 123 Postseason games rank second behind Gerry Davis' 133 and he has worked more World Series games than any current Major League Umpire...Joe graduated first in his class in the 1974 Umpire Development School and was sent to the Western Carolina League (now the South Atlantic League), where he was later inducted into its Hall of Fame...he was promoted to the Carolina League in 1975 and in the same year was promoted to the Southern League...in the winter of 1975 he worked in the Florida Instructional League, where he was observed by Fred Flieg, who took out an option on him and took him to Spring Training for the 1976 season...after working most of the season in the Southern League, he was promoted to the American Association and on September 14, 1976, West worked his first Major League game in Atlanta at the age of 23...h worked eight games that year and the following year the National League used him as a call-up umpire....he worked another 48 games and in 1978 he became a full-time National League Umpire....in 1981 he became the youngest to umpire a National League Championship game (Dodgers-Expos)...Joe has worked with more than 130 different umpires either in regular season, Postseason, All-Star or exhibition games...two of those (Doug Harvey and Nestor Chylak) later were iducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and Joe says, "I've worked with a lot more who should be there.".. Joe has umpired games for 55 different Hall of Famers who were either players, coaches, or managers...he umpired the first two Wild Card Games in National League history....he's umpired two All-Star Games, eight Division Series, nine League Championships, and six World Series...his career has spanned six of the 10 Commissioners in the history of Baseball.
PERSONAL: As a 15-year old All-Star catcher for the Greenville, NC Teener League team that finished second in the National Finals, Joe remembers that the plate umpire in his final game was future Major League Umpire Frank Pulli...Joe played college football for East Carolina (Safety on the Freshman Team) and Elon College, where he quarterbacked them to three conference titles and a second-place national ranking when the only game they lost was to Abilene Christian, led by future Dallas Cowboys quarterback Clint Longley and future Philadelphia Eagles star Wilbur Montgomery....West was voted MVP of that team and in 1986 West was inducted into the Elon Sports Hall of Fame in the same class as legendary Women's Basketball Coach Kay Yow. In 2007, American League Umpire Drew Coble joined them....West developed and patented the hard-shell chest protector used today by all Major League Umpires and owns the patent on it...he designed all of Wilson Sporting Goods high-end umpire gear, the only such equipment ever to be endorsed by Major League Baseball for use by its umpires...West appeared as the third base umpire in the Paramount Pictures movie The Naked Gun...West is a singer/songwriter who has recorded on four different albums, including "Blue Cowboy" and "Diamond Dreams"...He performed the songs "Promised Land" and "Grain of Salt" on Arbor Records, produced and released by John and Bucky Pizzarelli, called "Buck Pizzarelli and the West Texas Tumbleweeds," and he performed a duet with Julie Richardson (''You're The Reason God Made Oklahoma"), just released on Diamondback Records...Joe has performed at the Alameda County Fair (California), the North Carolina State Fair, and the "BoxCar Willie Theater" with "BoxCar" Willie (whom he was later a pall bearer for). He has also performed at the original "Gilley's" in Pasadena, the "Palamino" in North Hollywood, and he's still a regular performer at "Handle Bar J's" in Scottsdale, and "The Scoreboard", "The Nashville Palace" and "John A's" in Nashville...he did appearances on "Nashville Now" with both Ralph Emory and T. G. Sheppard...he has sung on stage with Wayne Money, Kent Goodson,Bobby Borchers, The Super Grit Cowboy Band, J. David Sloan, "BoxCar" Willie, Merle Haggard and Bonnie Owens, The Jones Boys (George Jones' Band), The Gems (Jim Ed Brown's Band), Diva (All Girl Jazz Band from New York), Bobby Mackey, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Rick Seratte, Les Dudek, Jason Scheff, Johnny Lee, Mickey Gilley's Red Rose Express and Urban Cowboy Bands, Mel Tillis' Statsiders, Ray and Ron Herndon and the Herndon Brothers Band, and Charlie McCoy and the Hee Haw Band at the Grand Ole Opry...Joe was a featured guest and performer at "Mickey Gilley's 25th Theater Anniversary" in Branson, Missouri...a single-digit handicap, Joe spends most of his free time at Bella Collina just west of Orlando...he can be found at the World Series of Golf held at Pebble Beach every year right after Thanksgiving.« Back to umpire roster