Derryl Cousins just wanted to stay in baseball. So when his professional baseball career as a Minor League catcher ended in 1972 at the age of 26, he asked legendary scout Harry Minor how he could remain in the game he loved so much. Minor suggested attending an umpire school, and Cousins listened to his advice despite having zero umpiring experience before that point.
"I didn't even know they had such a thing as umpire school," Cousins said. "So I went down there and now the rest is history." History is exactly what Cousins made on Sunday when he became just the 18th Major League umpire to work 4,000 career games. And he certainly made the last one count, as the game between the Mariners and A's went 15 innings and lasted just a touch over five hours. "It wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I went out there," Cousins said with a laugh. "I still feel tired." But all laughing aside, Cousins said it was a special accomplishment to reach the milestone after umpiring in the Majors for the past 30 seasons. "It's quite an honor, but I think it's just longevity I guess," Cousins said. "It means you've been around a while." Cousins broke into the Majors as an umpire in 1979 in the American League before umpiring throughout both leagues since 2000. He's been one of the game's top umpires and has been rewarded by umpiring the World Series in 1988, '99 and 2005 as well as the All-Star Game in '87, '98 and '08. He said he hasn't really stepped back yet to pick his favorite games as an umpire but did have a recent favorite. "I could never think of my favorite out of all of those, but recently it was working home plate for the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium in its last year," Cousins said. "And, of course, that also went 15 innings." Cousins, 62, has no intentions of retiring any time soon but also joked he's not going to last another 4,000 games. "I have nowhere close to that left," Cousins said. "I haven't really thought about it yet, but when you get to that number, you're getting close to the end."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.