MLB umpire Angel Hernandez sues league for racial discrimination

Hernandez points to a lack of minority representation in World Series crews and among crew chiefs. 
Publish date:

MLB umpire Angel Hernandez has filed a lawsuit against the league and commissioner Rob Manfred alleging the league discriminates against minority umpires, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer

Hernandez’s suit claims that MLB is biased against minority umps when it comes to high-profile positions. There has only been one minority crew chief in league history and only one minority umpire has worked the World Series since 2011. Every one of the 23 umpires promoted to crew chief since 2000 has been white. 

“The selection of these less qualified, white individuals over Hernandez was motivated by racial, national origin and/or ethnic considerations,” the suit reads, according to the Enquirer

Hernandez, who was born in Cuba, has been a major league umpire since 1991 (on a full-time basis since 1993) and worked the World Series in 2002 and 2005. The 55-year-old was also a temporary crew chief on two occasions but was passed over when he applied to be a full-time crew chief. 

The suit claims that Hernandez has received positive evaluations from the league. He is also one of MLB’s most unpopular umpires with the players. Numerous player surveys have ranked him near the bottom of the league’s umpires, most recently in 2010 when 22% of players surveyed by ESPN called Hernandez the worst umpire in the league. (C.B. Bucknor received 37% of the vote; Joe West, who worked the 2016 World Series, received 35% of the vote.)

The suit also alleges that MLB executive Joe Torre holds a grudge against Hernandez dating back to his time as Yankees manager, according to the Associated Press. Hernandez has received increased criticism in his evaluations since Torre’s arrival in the league office, the suit alleges. 

The number of minorities playing in MLB is at an all-time high this season, with 31.9% of players of Latin descent and a total of 42.5% of players of color. When Hernandez debuted as an MLB umpire, only 14% of players were Latino. The percentage of minority umpires is still quite low, however. Only 10 of the 92 umpires are black or Hispanic, according to the Enquirer