MLB insider says social media, press played role in Ángel Hernández's retirement

Late last month, Ángel Hernández decided to call it a career after over three decades of umpiring.

The 62-year-old suddenly retired Monday night, accepting a financial settlement to end his career.

Hernández had a reputation as one of the worst umpires — maybe the worst — in baseball.

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As replay and talk of an automated strike zone have become more prominent, the microscope on Hernández became even more magnified, and ESPN’s MLB insider Jeff Passan says that played a part in his early retirement.

“It makes me wonder, like, what’s my responsibility and what’s my part in this?” Passan told “The Rich Eisen Show. “Because I think sometimes we take for granted what social media actually does and how it brings out the absolute worst in a lot of us. 

“And I think the easiest way to do this and the easiest standard by which any of us, frankly, should live, is ‘Would I say it to the man’s face?’ Any of the stuff we say on social media about Ángel Hernández, if you were confronted by Ángel Hernández, would you say it to his face? Would you call him the names that you call him online? Would you tell him how terrible he is?

“A lot of that stuff, frankly, led to him going away. He got tired of it. He got tired of the social media firestorm that exists.”

Passan did note that Hernández was “genuinely bad” at his job. But he did note that “it was magnified by the ubiquity of baseball on social media now.”

“And how every time he would do something wrong, it would get put out there. And then it would almost just compound upon itself. … You just had this echo chamber of Ángel Hernández awfulness that, I think, in the end, wound up being part of his undoing,” Passan added.

Hernández, announcing his retirement himself, said he wants to “spend more time with my family.”

“Starting with my first Major League game in 1991, I have had the very good experience of living out my childhood dream of umpiring in the major leagues,” Hernández’s statement said. “There is nothing better than working at a profession that you enjoy. I treasured the camaraderie of my colleagues and the friendships I have made along the way, including our locker room attendants in all the various cities.

“I have decided that I want to spend more time with my family. Needless to say, there have been many positive changes in the game of baseball since I first entered the profession. This includes the expansion and promotion of minorities. I am proud that I was able to be an active participant in that goal while being a Major League umpire.”

Hernández once accused the league of “manipulating the performance of Mr. Hernández and other minority umpires,” which allegedly has prevented more minority umpires from becoming crew chiefs. 

In March 2021, Hernández lost a lawsuit against Major League Baseball that alleged racial discrimination. In the lawsuit, filed in 2017, Hernández said he had been discriminated against because he had not been assigned to a World Series since 2005 and had not been made a crew chief.

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