Umpire Joe West hit in the head by baseball thrown from Miller Park stands

Joe West, who recently umpired his 5,00th career game, avoided injury after being hit in the head by a baseball thrown from the stands. (AP)

Veteran umpire Joe West has his critics, but no one could justify what happened to him on Friday night in Milwaukee.

During the fourth inning of the Marlins-Brewers game at Miller Park, West was struck squarely on the back of the head by a baseball thrown from the stands while he worked at first base.

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Here’s one view of the incident, courtesy of FOX Sports Florida.

That is dangerous and obviously unacceptable behavior.

Fortunately, West appeared to be uninjured by the baseball. He immediately and almost defiantly turned to the stands seeking out the culprit, then huddled with his fellow umpires while motioning the Marlins and Brewers off the field.

The game would be delayed for seven minutes while security attempted to identify and remove the person responsible. It remains unclear if that was accomplished as both West and the Brewers offered further information following the game.

The incident obviously angered everyone else in the ballpark. While we’re sure many fans went out of their way to heckle West, which is commonplace given his reputation as an animated and polarizing umpire, there’s a clear line separating that from the violent act committed here.

The players were angry too, and perhaps even concerned for their own safety. Injured Marlins reliever Brad Ziegler took to Twitter to express what he’d like to see happen to the person responsible.

West recently umpire his 5,000th career game. He’s done them all his way, with his boisterous personally often leading the way. His perceived thirst for attention isn’t popular with fans, but any person who is willing to put West’s and everyone else’s health in jeopardy to send a message or feel important, must be dealt with accordingly.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!