West, 68, refereed his 5376th regular season game, one more than Hall of Fame referee Bill Klem, who had held the record since 1941.
“I know what Lou Gehrig said about being the luckiest guy in the world, but that’s me,” West said on Monday, when he tied the score.
White Sox manager Tony La Russa called West “the perfect guy to set the record because he represents what a lot of umpires should be.”
“Very consistent. He kept control of the game, and that’s what a referee is supposed to do, ”said La Russa.
The famous San Diego chicken presented West with fake flowers before the start of the sixth round. It was especially cheered by the crowd when the guaranteed rate field’s video card announced the record.
Prior to the game, the Oak Ridge Boys, wearing White Sox jerseys, sang the national anthem, at West’s request. At that point, there were a handful of boos for West. A montage of mostly current and former referees congratulating him was also released ahead of the game. It included a message from Garth Brooks.
La Russa began his long managerial career three years after West refereed his first match, in 1976.
“You can’t disrespect the game,” La Russa said. “Joe was going to make sure the game was played properly. “
Although respected in the game, fans haven’t always gone West. He tended to find the spotlight throughout his career. He once kicked out Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo while Rizzo watched the game from the top deck.
“He refereed with a flare,” La Russa said. “If you had an explosion he would let you have a little bit, but you couldn’t go too far.”
West umpired at first base on Monday when he tied the record, but went home for the record game. MLB officials were in attendance with friends and family. West bought 116 tickets for the deal.
“This will be the most expensive game I have ever officiated,” he joked.