Major League Baseball umpire Jerry Crawford recently worked his 4,000th game and joined an elite group of just 15 other umpires ever to have achieved this milestone. Only two other active umpires have worked more than 4,000 games. Bruce Froemming recently passed the 5,000 games mark on Aug. 16, 2006, while Ed Montague reached the 4,000 games milestone on Aug. 15, 2005. Bill Klem, who umpired from 1905 until 1941, holds the all-time record for most games worked at 5,368.
"I'm very proud of the 4,000 games, and I'm proud to be amongst a select few that have gotten there," Crawford said. Although Crawford was happy to reach the 4,000 games plateau, he thinks Froemming will safely hold onto the record among active umpires for games worked. "I don't believe I'll break Bruce's record, that's for sure," Crawford said. "I think I'll be long gone before that record's going to be broken. I don't think 5,000 games is in my future." Crawford's 4,000th game was the San Diego Padres' 2-1 win over the Colorado Rockies at PETCO Park on Sunday, April 8. That day it was just business as usual for Crawford. When he was later informed he had reached the milestone, he was surprised to hear the news. "For some reason it didn't even dawn on me, I'd been thinking about Bruce and his 5,000th game, and really my 4,000th game -- it didn't really enter into my mind," Crawford said. Crawford, 59, joined the Major League staff in 1977 and began his 31st season this year. "The amount of time you spend in the league has a great deal to do with the amount of games that you get in ... Four thousand games is an accomplishment in itself," he said. During his time in the Major Leagues, Crawford has had a chance to work at many special events and postseason games. He has umpired the All-Star Game (1989, 2006), four Division Series (1981, 2000, '02, '04), 12 League Championship Series (1980, '83, '85, '90, '93, '95, '96, '99, '2001, '03, '05, '06) and five World Series (1988, '92, '98, 2000, '02). Although he has enjoyed all of those experiences, Crawford said his favorite moment throughout his years as a Major League umpire was the first time he worked behind home plate. "My first plate game was in Philadelphia in 1976, and that was in front of almost my entire family," he said. "[They all] went to the ballpark when I worked my first plate job in the big leagues." Crawford attended umpire school in 1967 and then worked in the Florida State League (1970), Carolina League (1971), Eastern League (1972) and International League (1973-76). He also was part of the first American-Japanese exchange of umpires in 1995. Other members of Crawford's family also have been involved in officiating careers. His father, Henry, was a National League umpire from 1956-75 and his brother, Joe, has been a referee for about 30 years in the National Basketball Association (NBA). "We've loved it since we were kids," Crawford said. He has been married to his wife, Carol, for 39 years and has two grown children, a son, Christopher, and a daughter, Alyson. He said his son dabbled in umpiring but decided to pursue another type of career instead. "I don't think he was looking for it to be a career," Crawford said. Crawford doesn't have a set timetable for how much longer he'll continue his umpiring career. "I think your goal is to stay in the game as long as you enjoy it and you have fun at it," he said. "As long as I continue to like it and I remain healthy, I think that I can stay in the game."
Christie Cowles is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.