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Veteran umpire Tim McClelland of Michigan retires

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Tim McClelland delayed his retirement, like he delayed his strike call.

But this week, it finally arrived.

McClelland, 63, one of the most-respected umpires in Major League Baseball history, officially told Major League Baseball he was retiring, according to multiple reports.

McClelland took all of 2014 off to recover from a back injury, and hinted that he might not come back. He remains listed among active umpires, but the MLB.com list hasn't been updated since March 2014.

He was involved in some of the most famous and controversial calls, none bigger than the "Pine Tar Game" with George Brett at Yankee Stadium in July 1983.

Like with so many of his calls, McClelland got this one right — the rules limited the amount of pine tar that could be put on a bat, and Brett clearly had more, so his home run was disallowed. That sent Brett into a tirade that remains among the most memorable clips in baseball history.

Eventually, the league overturned the call, and the game was finished later in the year.

McClelland was born in Jackson, Mich, and earned a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Michigan State. He became a full-time MLB umpire in 1983.

Joe West is the only active umpire who's worked longer than McClelland, who did more than 4,000 games. The Tigers honored him for passing that milestone in 2012. He did the plate for David Wells' perfect game in 1998.

He also worked 93 postseason games, which rank eighth all-time.

In a Sports Illustrated poll of players, McClelland — known for his super-slow strike calls, his stone-cold expressions and a calm demeanor that allowed players and managers their say — came in as the No. 1 umpire.

He lives in West Des Moines, Iowa with his wife, Sandy.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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