William Anthony Welke
- Height 6' 2", Weight 240 lbs.
Bill Welke became a big league umpire in 1999, when he worked on the American League staff. He became part of the consolidated major league umpiring staff starting in 2000 and retired following the 2022 season, after 23 seasons. His brother, Tim Welke, was also a big league umpire, and he is the brother-in-law of another umpire, Jeff Kellogg.
Welke was part of the umpiring crew that was disciplined for an egregious misinterpretation of the rules on May 9, 2013, when they allowed Houston Astros manager Bo Porter to make an illegal substitution of a relief pitcher, over the protest of rival manager Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Crew chief Fieldin Culbreth bore the brunt of the Commissioner's office's wrath, being issued a two-day suspension in addition to the fine, but the other three members of the crew were fined as well for failing to correct the mistake.
In 2019, he was involved in two discrete incidents both with San Diego Padres player Manny Machado. On April 4th, he made a rare interference call on Machado after he had deposited his bat near the legs of catcher John Ryan Murphy of the Arizona Diamondbacks in an apparent effort to distract him from catching a pop-up. On June 15th, he ejected Machado after he complained about a called third strike. Machado had apparently said something objectionable; he then exploded, throwing his bat violently against the backstop, and then ever so slightly brushing Welke with his hand as he was gesturing in support of his argument. Machado was handed a one-game suspension for going over the line in his protest of the call, but the World Umpires Association was not satisfied and issued a statement saying that the penalty was too lenient given the need to protect officials from violence and that Machado needed to be made an example of. Most observers considered that the umpires' reaction was completely over the top. Even Major League Baseball echoed that sentiment, stating that it was inappropriate for the union to comment in this manner on disciplinary decisions.
- Jesse Yomtov: "MLB umpires union's outburst was childish, unacceptable", USA Today' June 19, 2019.