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Gonzalez becomes MLB's first Venezuelan umpire

MIAMI, Fla. (AP) — Manuel Gonzalez became the first Venezuelan umpire in major league baseball history Monday night, working at third base in the game between the Florida Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Gonzalez, 30, wore No. 79 and was filling in for John Hirschbeck, who was dealing with a personal matter. He has been serving as a Triple-A umpire in the International League, which is where he will return following the two-game series in South Florida.

He will be the second base umpire in Tuesday's game between the Marlins and Diamondbacks.

"It's been amazing," Gonzalez said. "It's one of one of those things you think about and think about and then when it happens, it's a great part of your life."

Gonzalez's father, wife, and brother-in law were in attendance for his big moment.

"It's a special occasion especially being in Miami, there are a lot of Venezuelans around here," Gonzalez said, "and it's close to home, which makes it easier for my family."

Gonzalez began umpiring in Venezuela when he was 16, and has spent nine years in the minors.

"Hopefully this will open some doors for Venezuelan umpires," Gonzalez said. "We have some good, quality umpires down there."

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, who is of Cuban descent, was happy for him.

"I'm sure he's good, good for him," Fredi Gonzalez said. "I'll make sure I say something to him, that's always nice to break into the major leagues."