NEW YORK - Major League Baseball has appointed its first African American umpire crew chief, promoting Kerwin Danley to the position this week, The Associated Press has learned.
A person familiar with the move spoke to the AP on Wednesday night on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not yet been made.
MLB often shuffles its roster of umpires in the offseason to account for retirements, promotions and new hires.
The 58-year-old Danley has worked two World Series and been on the field for 10 other postseason rounds, including the AL Championship Series last year. He’s also been chosen to call two All-Star Games.
Danley called his first game in the majors in 1992 as a minor league fill-in and was hired to the MLB staff in 1998.
Danley played college ball at San Diego State and was a first-team All-America outfielder in 1983 when he batted .399. His teammates with the Aztecs included future Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn — Danley’s roommate — and current Colorado manager Bud Black.
In a neat coincidence, Danley was the first base umpire when Gwynn got his 3,000th hit during a 1999 game in Montreal and gave his former teammate a hug by the bag.
Danley began his umpiring career in 1985 in the Northwest League, and kept working his way up through the minors. He is known for having an even temperament, always an attractive quality when MLB picks its crew chiefs. He has totaled just four ejections in the past five seasons, according to retrosheet.org.
Danley also was an instructor at the first umpire camp at MLB’s Urban Youth Academy in Compton, California.
There have been about 10 full-time African American umpires in the majors since Emmett Ashford ascended to become the first in 1966. There have been several blacks in MLB umpire leadership positions, including Peter Woodfork, senior vice president of baseball operations, supervisor Cris Jones and the late Chuck Meriwether, a longtime big league umpire who became a supervisor.