There was a scary moment in Thursday’s game between the Washington Nationals and Toronto Blue Jays at Nationals Park.
Home plate umpire Joe West had to leave the game in the first inning after Blue Jays slugger Bo Bichette’s bat slipped out of his hands on the back swing and caught West in the side of the head.
Players signaled for the Nationals’ training staff to attend to West, who remained on his feet and was walking away from home plate with blood leaking down his face from around his ear.
According to reporters covering the game, the players cleared the field and the veteran umpire was seen leaving the field with a towel pressed up against the side of his face for further treatment.
West, 67, had caused a bit of a stir earlier this month before the season began when he made an unsubstantiated claim that the amount of COVID-19 deaths were not accurate, which led to the umpires union distancing itself from his comments.
West, known around baseball as “Cowboy Joe” due to his second career as a country music artist, has been an MLB umpire since 1976 and has a reputation for his quick hook on ejecting players and managers.