Umpire loses bid to reinstate racial discrimination lawsuit against Major League Baseball

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Umpire Angel Hernandez lost again in his racial discrimination lawsuit against Major League Baseball when a federal appeals court refused to reinstate his case on Tuesday.

The 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a 2021 District Court decision that granted MLB a summary judgment.

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The Cuba-born Hernandez, hired as a big league umpire in 1993, sued in 2017. He alleged he was discriminated against because he had not been assigned to the World Series since 2005 and had been passed over for crew chief.

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“Hernandez has failed to establish a statistically significant disparity between the promotion rates of white and minority umpires,” the 2nd Circuit said in an 11-page decision. “MLB has provided persuasive expert evidence demonstrating that, during the years at issue, the difference in crew chief promotion rates between white and minority umpires was not statistically significant. Hernandez offers no explanation as to why MLB’s statistical evidence is unreliable.”

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The decision was made by Circuit Judges Susan L. Carney and Steven J. Menash, who heard oral arguments on June 8. The court said the third member of the panel, Circuit Judge Rosemary S. Pooler, died last Thursday.

Hernandez claimed then-MLB executive Joe Torre, who made key decisions over umpires, held animosity toward Hernandez dating to Torre’s time as New York Yankees manager.

“Hernandez has failed to show that the criteria Torre used in making crew chief promotion decisions caused the existing disparity between white and minority crew chiefs,” the panel wrote. “Hernandez has made no showing that Torre harbors a bias against racial minorities.”

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Nicholas R. Gregg, Hernandez’s lawyer, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Hernandez could ask the full New York-based 2nd Circuit to rehear the case or for the U.S. Supreme Court to review it.

Hernandez, who turns 62 next week, served as an interim crew chief from 2011-16.

Kerwin Danley became the first Black crew chief in 2020 and Alfonso Marquez became the first Hispanic crew chief born outside the United States that same year. Richie Garcia, who was born in Florida, was the first Hispanic crew chief from 1985-89.

Hernandez has been controversial on the field at times. He had three calls at first base overturned in video reviews during Game 3 of the 2018 AL Division Series between the New York Yankees and Boston.

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