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Umpire Tim McClelland's career might be finished because of back injury

Big League Stew

Tim McClelland, a major league umpire since 1983 who has worked the World Series four times, will miss the 2014 season because of a back injury so severe it might force him to retire.

McClelland, 62, told the Des Moines Register that doctors did not clear him to work this year, and he might not come back at all.

"I'm not working this year," said McClelland, of West Des Moines. "I'm not retiring, I'm just on the disabled list. I'm going to rest, and we have to re-evaluate at the end of the year."

When asked if sitting out a season had the potential to provide enough relief for a return to baseball, McClelland said he was unsure.

"Possibly. Possibly," he said. "We don't know."

McClelland probably is best known for being in the middle of the George Brett "pine tar" game in 1983, when he ruled Brett out, canceling a home run at Yankee Stadium, because too much pine tar was on his bat. He's the second-most tenured ump, after Joe West, in the majors. Fans of a certain age (who also pay half-attention to the umpires) don't remember what baseball is like without McClelland.

It would be a drag if he doesn't return. We mostly think about, talk about and write about umpires when they make mistakes, but theirs is a largely thankless job that requires perfection, more or less. And it's too bad McClelland isn't healthy enough do his job this year. It will be his first summer off since 1976. Heal up, Blue!

Big BLS H/N: USA Today

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David Brown edits Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter!

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