Major League Baseball announced today that three umpires - Tripp Gibson, Will Little and Mark Ripperger - have been named to the full-time Major League Umpiring staff, which has expanded from 74 members to 76 for the 2015 regular season.
The third vacancy stems from the retirement of Crew Chief Tim McClelland, who served 32-plus years and more than 4,200 games, including 94 Postseason games, as a Major League Umpire. The Michigan native had the second-most Major League experience among the active staff, trailing only 37-year Umpire Joe West. The Michigan State University product worked four World Series (1993, 2000, 2002 and 2006) in his career along with nine League Championship Series, five Division Series and three All-Star Games (1986, 1998, 2003). McClelland was the home plate umpire for the "Pine Tar Game" between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on July 24, 1983, as well as Game Seven of the 2003 American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium. He also called balls and strikes in the perfect game by Yankees left-hander David Wells on May 17, 1998 in New York.
Gibson, 33, just completed his ninth season as a Minor League umpire. The Kentucky native began to work Major League Spring Training in 2012 and most recently worked in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Gibson made his Major League debut on July 8, 2013 at Chase Field in Phoenix (LAD @ ARI). Gibson has worked 174 Major League games as a call-up umpire.
Little, 30, has eight seasons of Minor League experience. He was an umpire in the World Baseball Classic Qualifiers in Germany in 2012. The Tennessee resident first worked Major League Spring Training in 2013. Most recently an International League (Triple-A) umpire, the graduate of Milligan College, where he played baseball, debuted in the Majors on June 24, 2013 (CLE @ BAL). He has worked 198 Major League games.
Ripperger, 34, has umpired professionally since 2003 and was first assigned to Major League Spring Training in 2009. The California resident worked his first Major League game on September 30, 2010 (LAA @ TEX). He has now worked more than 200 Major League games. Ripperger most recently was an umpire in the Pacific Coast League.
With the retirements of McClelland and Gary Darling during the 2014 regular season, two crew chief vacancies have been filled by Jerry Meals and Larry Vanover. Meals is an 18-year Major League Umpire who has worked nine Postseason series, including his first World Series in 2014. Vanover is a 22-year Major League Umpire who has been assigned to five Postseason series. Vanover was the Replay Official for the first-ever use of expanded instant replay (CHI @ PIT, 3/31/14), and he was the home plate umpire for the final game of Derek Jeter's career on September 28, 2014 at Fenway Park.