Ump Joe West sues over claims he expanded strike zone for borrowing pitcher's 1957 Chevy

Associated Press
Joe West

New York — Umpire Joe West has sued retired player Paul LoDuca for defamation. The former catcher alleges West gave pitcher Billy Wagner a bigger strike zone in exchange for letting the umpire borrow a vintage car.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan, West contended that LoDuca said during an April 18 podcast on The Action Network that he had been ejected 15 times during his major league career and eight or nine had been by West.

According to West, LoDuca said during the podcast that when the player was catching Wagner during a New York Mets’ game against Philadelphia in 2006 or 2007, West called three straight batters out on strikes.

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The umpire adds that LoDuca claimed Wagner told him the reason he got the calls was the pitcher had allowed West to drive his 1957 Chevy.

West said in the suit that LoDuca was ejected eight times in his career and only once by West. The umpire denied any favoritism and said Wagner did not pitch in the only Mets-Phillies game that West worked behind the plate during 2006 and 2007.

A four-time All-Star, LoDuca played in the major leagues from 1998-2008. Andrew Mongelluzzi, his last listed agent, did not return a call seeking comment.

West’s suit also named The Action Network as a defendant. The Action Network did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The 66-year-old West is the major leagues’ senior umpire. He debuted in 1976, became a full-time staff member two years later and has worked 5,312 regular-season games, second to Bill Klem’s 5,370.