Hernández in 2015
|Born: August 26, 1961|
|May 23, 1991|
|Career highlights and awards|
Ángel Hernández (born August 26, 1961) is an umpire in Major League Baseball (MLB). He worked in the National League from 1991 to 1999, and has worked throughout MLB since 2000. In July 2017, Hernández filed a federal lawsuit against MLB, alleging racial discrimination led to him being overlooked for World Series games and crew chief promotions. He has since umpired in the 2017 All-Star Game, 2017 American League Division Series, and 2018 American League Division Series in addition to regular-season work.
Hernández was born in Havana, Cuba. In 2015 he returned to Cuba for the first time since he left to spread the ashes of his father. A few months later he returned to umpire the first game in the country involving an MLB team since 1999.
Hernández umpired in the World Series in 2002 and 2005, as well as the All-Star Game in 1999, 2009, and 2017. He has officiated in seven League Championship Series (2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2016), and in eleven League Division Series (1997, 1998, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2020). Hernández also worked Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS as an injury fill-in for Derryl Cousins. For the second half of the 2011 baseball season, Hernández was moved from the umpiring crew of Joe West to the crew of Gerry Davis.
Hernández wore number 5 while in the National League, but the number was taken by Dale Scott when the umpires were consolidated under MLB in 2000, so Hernández took number 55. After Scott's retirement in 2017, Hernández regained his number 5 for the 2018 season.
In 1999 Hernández was ranked 31st out of 36 umpires in the Major League Baseball Players Association survey. He was retained for the 2000 season ahead of 13 of his National League colleagues, which the Philadelphia Inquirer termed one of the "surprises" of the 1999 purge.
In 2006 and 2011 he was listed as the third-worst baseball umpire in Sports Illustrated player polls. A 2010 ESPN survey showed that 22% of major league ballplayers asked identified Hernández as the worst umpire in the major leagues. In 2016, Hernández' lawsuit against MLB stated that MLB rated Hernández' accuracy behind the plate at 96.88 percent in 2016 (up from 92.19% in 2002), and said he did not miss any calls on the basepaths.
During the 2016, 2017, and 2018 seasons, Hernández's calls at first base were overturned in 14 out of 18 video reviews, for a 78% overturn rate, exceeding the 60% overturn rate for all first-base calls by all umpires during that time period.
On April 8, 2019, Boston University published a study on 11 seasons of Major League Baseball data, almost 4 million pitches analyzed, to determine the accuracy of balls and strikes called. The study found that Hernández performed stronger in 2018 than his average for 2008-2018. He averaged 19 incorrect calls a game, or 2.2 per inning. Even with this high error rate, compared to his peers, he performed better than others, escaping the 2018 Bottom 10 MLB list. During spring training 2019, Hernández claimed he gets four wrong calls per game. The BU study shows that his error rate is almost five times higher.
The Sporting News journalist Tom Gatto wrote in 2020 that Hernández "has earned a reputation for being one of MLB's worst umpires," similarly Andrew Mahoney writing for The Boston Globe reported that Hernández "has a reputation as one of baseball's worst umpires," and Zach Braziller of The New York Post wrote that he was the "worst umpire in baseball."
Hernández was behind the plate for the final game at the old Yankee Stadium on September 21, 2008. He was umpiring at third base when Jered Weaver threw a no-hitter on May 2, 2012, and Hernández was the third base umpire on September 28, 2012, when Homer Bailey of the Cincinnati Reds no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In 1998, Hernández was behind the plate for a game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves, the day before the All-Star break was to begin. In the 11th inning Braves runner Michael Tucker tagged up on a fly ball to left. Replays showed the throw to catcher Mike Piazza clearly beating Tucker, and that Tucker never touched the plate, but Hernández ruled Tucker safe. After the game Piazza called the call the worst he had ever seen in his baseball career, and other Mets opined that Hernández may have been in a hurry to get the game over with so they could all start their break.
In 2001, Hernández was blamed for ejecting Steve McMichael, a former Chicago Bears football player, who had taken a shot at Hernández's umpiring over the Chicago Cubs PA system after being introduced as the guest singer for "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". It was later revealed crew chief Randy Marsh had ordered the ejection.
On July 17, 2006, Hernández was the third base umpire and ejected Dodgers' first base coach Mariano Duncan. When Duncan came out of the dugout to argue the ejection, he tossed his cap onto the ground in anger. After Duncan was removed from the field, Hernández picked up the cap and tossed it to a fan in the stands. The next day, Duncan taped his cap to his head before delivering the Dodgers' lineup to the umpires. Duncan was suspended for two games and fined by Major League Baseball as a result of the incident.
On May 8, 2013, Hernández served as the crew chief for a game between the Oakland Athletics and the Cleveland Indians. In the ninth inning he and two other umpires ruled a long hit by the Athletics' Adam Rosales as a double following a video review. Oakland's manager Bob Melvin argued the call, and Hernández ejected him from the game. The Athletics lost the game 4-3. MLB later acknowledged that the hit should have been called a home run, but said that it was too late to overturn it. Several umpires argued that the replay system did not provide clear enough pictures, and the system was later changed.
In August 2017, Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler was fined $10,000 by MLB, for critical comments he made about Hernández. Kinsler had said that Hernández was a bad umpire, and "needs to find another job".
On October 8, 2018, Hernández was the first base umpire for Game 3 of the 2018 American League Division Series between the Yankees and Red Sox. Four out of five plays that he called at first base which were submitted for video review were overturned.TBS analyst and Hall of Famer Pedro Martínez said after the game: "Angel was horrible. Don't get me going on Angel now. Major League Baseball needs to do something about Angel. It doesn't matter how many times he sues Major League Baseball. He's as bad as there is." Pitcher CC Sabathia said: "I don't understand why he's doing these games.... He's always bad. He's a bad umpire". Hernández declined to comment after the game, a blowout win for the Red Sox, but MLB issued a statement through a spokesperson: "There were several very close calls at first base tonight, and we are glad that instant replay allowed the umpiring crew to achieve the proper result on all of them."
MLB removed Hernández from the position of acting crew chief after accusing him of eavesdropping on an MLB investigative call in July 2019, which focused on Hernández's 20-minute game delay due to umpire confusion over league rules. Hernández did not hang up his phone when his interview ended, and instead continued listening to the subsequent questioning of another umpire that he knew was intended to be separate. Joe Torre, MLB's chief baseball officer, wrote him: "Simply put, we find your asserted justifications for remaining on the line to be implausible, internally inconsistent, premised on facts that are incorrect and not credible.... we have concluded that you remained on the line in an effort to intentionally and deceptively eavesdrop on a confidential conversation in order to hear what [umpire] Hickox would say .... This is an egregious offense." Hernández was also chastised for asking pitcher Homer Bailey for 11 autographed baseballs after Bailey's no-hitter, making three incorrect calls that were later overturned on the basis of video replay in the first four innings of Game 3 of the 2018 ALDS, and angrily throwing his headset during a different game when his call was overturned by replay.
In July 2017, Hernández filed a federal lawsuit against MLB, alleging racial discrimination led to him being overlooked for World Series games and crew chief promotions. He also cited a long-standing feud with Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre, dating back to Torre's managerial career. Hernández asserted that prior to Torre's arrival in 2011, Hernández's evaluations were consistently positive, but since then evaluations had turned neutral or negative. Nearly a week after he filed the suit, Hernández was named to the 2017 All-Star Game; he was also selected as first base umpire for the 2017 and 2018 American League Division Series. In September 2018, the case was moved from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in New York City, where Major League Baseball is headquartered. As of October 2020, the case was in the pretrial stages.