Here are few tips are to consider ahead of your next game. If you have any questions drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dress - plate and base umpire should preferably where a black polo and a black hat. Grey pants and black shoes/sneakers are ideal but not required. A watch for keeping track of the game start time is important.
Arrive early - One of the main duties of the umpire is to ensure the game starts on time and stays on time. Arrive early enough (at least 20 minutes) so you can get equipped (umpire gear is in the Club house at Riddle and in the far shed towards right field at El Morro), check the field for any loose bases or other hazards, greet the managers and perform the equipment safety check.
Equipment safety check - With the bat rule changes this year, this check is even more important. Shoot to perform the safety check 15 minutes before the game. The managers of teams are going to be reminded to have their players lay out their bats and helmets in an orderly fashion outside their dugout. "Orderly" means all bats brought to the field should be taken out of any bags and preferably leaned up against the dugout fence in a row with the helmets directly in a row in front of them. The umpire needs to looks for the USA Bat logo on each bat and also make sure there are no cracks or dents in the bats. For the helmets, the umpire should look for any cracks or missing padding on the inside.
Pregame Check - Pulling everything together here would be the preferred order of pregame activities:
- Arrive and get equipped
- Walk the field for hazzards
- Check in with the managers and let them know you'd like to inspect the equipment (15 minutes out)
- Secure the game balls from the home manager
- Meet with the other base umpire and discuss responsibilities and any local rules that apply
- Meet with the managers at the plate to review any issues of the field or local rules such as time limits that apply (10 minutes out)
- Line players up at the plate for the pledge (5 minutes out). Make sure all hats are off for the pledge.
- After pledge, the players take the field with goal of starting the game on time
- IMPORTANT - Make sure to note the time when you start the game as most likely time limits will come into play later on
In game considerations
Here are few things to think about during the game. Perhaps pick out just a couple of these items to work on each game.
- As a home plate umpire, you should always assume the next pitch is going to be a strike regardless of how the last several pitches came in. Pitches are strikes until they are shown not to be or said another way, pitches should not have to be proven to be strikes. Having this proper mindset will go a long way towards improving the pace of the game for everyone.
- Make an effort to keep the turnovers between innings to 2 minutes maximum. Doing so keeps the pace of the game going and may allow the players to get an extra inning in. Feel free to remind the players and coaches to have the players hustle on and off the field. Also make sure that only players with a mask and not adults warm up the pitchers.
- Home plate ump should make use of the "slot" positioning for the best sight coverage of the plate and be consistent with hand signals. This means only using the right hand for strikes and the left hand should always hold the indicator. Make sure to stand up for strike calls and to stay down for ball calls. Do not get into the habit of locating ball calls with phrases such as "inside high" or "a little low". This is not recommended or expected, a ball is just a "ball". You also do not need to worry about signaling the count to the pitcher, audiblizing the count is fine. Most importantly, always follow the ball into the catcher's mitt before making your call and do not rush making your call.
- For base umpires, it's also important to be consistent with our hand signals. Make sure to always use the right hand for outs. And most importantly, see the complete play and do not rush to make your calls. It is not uncommon for players to appear to catch a ball that they instantly drop (safe). A slight pause before making your call works best.
- Be familiar with any time limit rules and be ready to enforce them. Generally time limits help end the games gracefully and usually their enforcement boils down to ensuring each team will have an inning (if needed) of unlimited runs.
- If a call occurs during the game that you are not sure you got right, feel free to conference with the other umpire to make sure you got it right. At the same time, if you are confident you got a call right you do not need to heed a coach's request to check a call with the other ump.