Joe West poised to break umpiring record with 5,376th game

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Cowboy Joe is headed for No. 1, closing in on the top spot on the chart.

Joe West is poised to break baseball’s umpiring record when the St. Louis Cardinals visit the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night. West is set to work home plate for his 5,376th regular-season game, snapping a tie with Hall of Famer Bill Klem.

The colorful West, who turns 69 on Oct. 31, is perhaps the most famous umpire in major league history, known for his memorable run-ins with several players and managers over the years, to go along with at least one executive.

He also fashions himself as a country music singer and songwriter, leading to the nicknames “Cowboy Joe” and “Country Joe.”

West began his big league career at age 23, doing a handful of games in the last month of the 1976 season. His first plate job included Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro throwing to young Braves catcher Dale Murphy.

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