MLB's Most Scrutinized Umpire Angel Hernandez Argues MLB 'Manipulated' Reviews Against Minorities

MLB umpire Angel Hernandez is alleging that the league manipulates its internal evaluations in an effort not to give minorities opportunities to become crew chiefs.

Hernandez's suit, which has reached the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, was filed in 2017 and then dismissed in 2021 by a lower court. At the time of the suit, Hernandez pointed out that there had been one minority crew chief in MLB's 150-year history. That number has since increased, with the league promoting its first African-American and Latino crew chief in 2020.

“The District Court also failed to give appropriate weight to evidence of MLB’s disparate treatment of Mr. Hernandez, including evidence that MLB was manipulating the performance of Mr. Hernandez and other minority umpires to make their performances look worse,” Hernandez argued in the court filing, via The Athletic.

There are 19 umpiring crews in MLB, consisting of four umpires, one of whom is a crew chief. Hernandez said his midseason umpire evaluation reports (UER) from 2011-16 were consistently glowing, yet by the time his year-end reviews came in, the assessments had changed. Hernandez claims this is what has kept him from getting promoted.

“ review of Mr. Hernandez’s Year-End Evaluations and his UERs for the years 2011-2016 reveals that MLB manipulated Mr. Hernandez’s year-end evaluations in order to make his job performance appear worse than it actually was,” Hernandez argued. “Mr. Hernandez’s Year-End Evaluations for the 2011-2016 seasons do not even come close to accurately summarizing Mr. Hernandez’s actual performance in those seasons.”

MLB denied the allegations at the time the case was active in the lower court, with Joe Torre, MLB's chief baseball officer at the time, testifying in a deposition that Hernandez's lack of leadership was why he hadn't been promoted.

“Hernandez has not demonstrated the leadership ability and situation management skills in critical, high-pressure roles on a consistent basis,” Torre said.

Hernandez is perhaps the most well-known umpire among fans, often times talked about for his missed calls and confrontations with players and managers. In an April 25 game between the Phillies and Brewers, Philadelphia's Kyle Schwarber was irate at a strike call made by Hernandez and engaged in a confrontation with him.

Schwarber said following the game, “I’m not here to bury anyone, but it wasn’t very good. You wish … I don’t know how to really say it. It just wasn’t very good. Guys were doing a really good job tonight of not saying much. It just got to me to where I was going to stick up for some other guys."

MLB has 30 to 45 days to file a response. The Second Circuit will then either schedule an oral argument or rule based on the briefs.

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Nick Geddes is a 2021 graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. A life-long sports enthusiast, Nick shares a passion for sports writing and is proud to represent OutKick.