Infamous umpire's retirement intensifies Cardinals fans' gaze on C.B. Bucknor

Angel Hernandez has retired as a major league umpire, but C.B. Bucknor remains a thorn in the side of the St. Louis Cardinals.
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Umpires have tough jobs. Tough, thankless jobs. If they do their job well, they're not noticed. If they fail, they're mercilessly derided and despised throughout baseball. Angel Hernandez fell into the latter camp, as fans of the St. Louis Cardinals and 29 other teams blasted the umpire for his frequently incorrect calls regarding balls and strikes. But with Hernandez announcing his retirement, the league can exhale — to a degree.

It's unclear what motivated Hernandez to retire, but one would think that fans' and teams' continual criticism of his calls played a big part. While the Cardinals had their run-ins with Hernandez, he was generally small potatoes in St. Louis when compared with a much more formidable foe in the person of C.B. Bucknor. If fans believe they can have an impact on an umpire's desire to remain in the league, there may be increased pressure on Bucknor to hang up his gear as well.

Bucknor, an umpire in the major leagues since 1996, is consistently ranked as one of the worst in the game, both by players and by official data. When it comes to the Cardinals, the controversy runs a bit deeper. In 2022, Marmol confronted Bucknor during an argument and told the umpire that he needed to retire. During a Spring Training game in 2023, Bucknor refused to shake Marmol's hand. After the game, Marmol said that Bucknor wasn't very good at his job. 

Bucknor reemerged in 2024 as the home plate umpire in a game on May 4 where the Cardinals hosted the Chicago White Sox. A rain delay came into effect with the Cardinals down 6-5 with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning. Three hours later, the game resumed, and with everyone ready to leave, Bucknor called Ivan Herrera out looking on a strike that was well outside.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred recently said that the automated ball-strike system is unlikely to be implemented in 2025, so Bucknor looks poised to return for at least one more year. But with no love lost between Marmol and Bucknor, and with Hernandez's retirement an encouraging sign to fans when it comes to cleansing the sport of egregious errors, the pressure across St. Louis and baseball will only continue to mount for Bucknor to follow in Hernandez's footsteps out the door.