Call it a career: MLB ump Winters opted out in '20, now done

FILE - In this May 18, 2019, file photo, home plate umpire Mike Winters looks on during the eighth inning of a baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland Athletics in Detroit. After more than three decades of hard work as a big league umpire, Winters is retiring. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
FILE - In this May 18, 2019, file photo, home plate umpire Mike Winters looks on during the eighth inning of a baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland Athletics in Detroit. After more than three decades of hard work as a big league umpire, Winters is retiring. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

After more than three decades of hard work as a big league umpire, Mike Winters is ready to loaf.

Consider it a retirement benefit, in fact.

“I’ve had time to take a cooking class and I’ve been baking sourdough bread,” he said over the weekend. “I’ve made a couple of loaves so far. They’re not perfect yet. A bit of a doorstop. But I’m getting there.”

One of 12 umps to opt out during the pandemic-shortened season, the 62-year-old Winters has made it official. He’s off to other endeavors, be it visiting the Far East, checking out the Westminster dog show or polishing his culinary skills.

A full plate on deck. And an impressive ledger in the books — 3,810 games in the regular season over 32 years, plus four World Series assignments and four All-Star Games.

Saw a lot, too: He was on the field for the 3,000th hits by Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr., along with Mark McGwire’s then-record 62nd home run, and behind the plate for a no-hitter by Kevin Gross.

“I gave it a good go. I’m very excited about the next step,” he told The Associated Press from his home in the San Diego area, adding, “I think I’ve got a few guys in my age range who are jealous.”

No official word yet on whether any other umpires will follow his path in 2021.