Fall Ball

General points of emphasis:

1.       Arrive early for your games so you can have a thorough pre-game.

2.       In case of poor weather, call me or the weather hotline.  Larry's cell # is 612-508-7526; Larry's home number is 763-545-0559; the Gopher Camp hotline for weather is 612-625-0135.

3.       Make sure you have contacted your partner and your evaluator ahead of time to determine shirt color.  I am suggesting that Umpire 1 is the one that should start the phone calling.  No e-mail please.  Use the phone.  Just click on your partner’s name and his address and phone numbers will be shown.  If you get no results with the phone, then try e-mail.  The phone is where you can actually discuss the basic items necessary and it can start your relationship on the right foot.  Evaluators should not be calling their umpires until late in the day on Friday for Saturday games if you have not heard from them yet.  So, Umpire 1 make sure you take charge and contact your partner and evaluator before then

4.       The default uniform is the navy blue pullover since that is what the MSHSL official uniform is and it is also the NW Umpire default uniform color.  As long as both of you match, you can wear the black, college powder blue, old style powder blues (red, white & blue trim or just navy blue & white trim), gray, cream or white, etc.  Remember, you must match however.  If you are a NW umpire working with a tryout umpire, the tryout umpire should be wearing a non-logo cap on both the bases and the plate.  The NW umpire should be wearing their NW cap.  If you can match the color, most umpires have navy and/or black caps.  So, try to match the color if possible.

5.       Do a professional job while you are working.  Take your evaluation seriously and listen to your evaluator when they make a point about what you could do to improve.

6.       Take a look at the common positive comments and the negative comments that sent out yesterday to everyone.

7.       Make sure you understand the high school rules for these games plus the few rules at the end of this document.



1.       Regular high school playing rules will be in force, except as noted.

2.       Special emphasis will be on the force play slide rule at 2B.

3.       No courtesy runners will be used.

4.       No ten-run rule will be in place.

5.       Free substitution will be allowed with no restriction on number of players in the batting order.

6.       The decisions of the umpires are final and no protests will be allowed.

7.       Three free visits to the mound are allowed per game.  On the second trip in an inning for the same pitcher, the pitcher must be removed.

8.       Not more than four innings shall be pitched on a single day by a single pitcher (exception: pitch count below 50 after 4 innings).  The same pitcher shall not pitch on consecutive days or in both games of a double header.

9.       No game shall go beyond 9 full innings.  If the score is tied after 9 complete innings, then a tie shall be declared.

Hi Guys,

I thought I sent this out last night but I find that it did not get sent for some reason to everyone.  So, here it is again and I apologize if you received it twice.

Our orientation meeting is tonight.  Most of you have let me know that you can make it or not.  Thanks for being professional about this task. 

Game time is 6:00 pm.  The 1st pitch will be at 6:00 pm sharp.  We will not wait for you to find your way to the site.  This is part of being an umpire - knowing that we need to be on time for our games to start on time.

Below is an updated Outline for our meeting with some of the instructors duties listed.  Also, there are the last 10 questions from the 1st base mechanics stuff we have been sending out since last Saturday.


August 19, 2009

The International School of Minnesota

6385 Beach Road
Eden Prairie, MN   55344-5234


1.     Greeting and Sign-in.  We will be meeting in the gymnasium.  Upon entering the main entrance to the building, you will be going down stairs at the end of the foyer.  One of us will be there directing you downstairs.  Thanks to Chad Eischens for the use of this fine facility.

2.     Distribution and Purchase of the Red PBUC Manual for the 2-Umpire System.  LG

3.     Answering of questions from the umpires to our staff.  All Involved

4.     Test for Things We Say and Do – Developing a PLAN – What situations do you need to plan for – I mentioned trip to the mound, cleaning the plate, etc.  Other ideas are why 2 ball bags and not just one; using your mask more efficiently; handling the chirping from the dugout, etc.  LG

5.     Review of the evaluation form and what it entails.  LG

6.     Positioning on the bases – A, B & C and why we expect umpires to be in these starting positions.  Demonstration and Practice Session.  Adam Berg

7.     Angle/Distance demonstration and discussion with a brief practice session.  LG

8.     Pickoffs and Steals – Demonstration with a brief practice session.  John Priester

9.     Pivoting – Demonstration and a brief practice session.  All of us – JP, AB, CE & LG

10.   Step up, Turn and Face the ball.  Pause, Read and React.  Double Play footwork.  John Priester

11.   Jim Evans – 13 Plate Criteria - LG

12.   Plate Demonstration and calling balls and strikes.  Choosing a stance.  Adam Berg

13.   Wrap-up & Miscellaneous.  Everyone present.

For a map to The International School of Minnesota you might go to www.mshsl.org for the activity page for the Minnesota State High School League and use the pull down menu for the schools and push the I key to pull up the schools that begin with I and then scroll down to (The) International School of Minnesota and select it.  From there you will be able to click on the map to the school for directions and the map.

More information will follow soon in the next few days about fall baseball.  Stay Tuned.

Remember, that the first games begin on August 22 and the last games are scheduled for October 4.  All game assignments have been made at this time and all have been accepted except 3 as of this date.

We hope to see as many of the umpires as we can at our orientation meeting on August 19, 2009 at 6 pm.  We promise that we will be finished by 8:30 pm at the latest.  Remember to wear activity clothing for our meeting as you will be doing some physical activity.  It is not just a discussion but an active learning session.

Larry Gallagher

41.  Describe the BU’s action when a ball is hit slowly up the first base line that will require a fair or foul decision.   There are two ways to do this but Jim Evans manual has the plate umpire make the fair/foul decision and the BU just busts to his angle.  On a hard hit ball and other schools of thought are to have the base umpire get the fair/foul from the base and beyond no matter what the situation is.  

42.  What defines position I am not sure what this question is asking.  I am taking a stab at what it means by saying position is where we try to find the optimal spot for each play we encounter.  For every play, there is an ideal position to be in.  Such as getting the best angle for the play, the correct distance for the play.  Being able to see between the tag attempt and the runner is of utmost importance.  On forcce plays we want to be a few feet further away than on a tag play.  On many plays we must be able to make adjustments based on the direction of the throw, the direction of the slide, the type of tag attempt that is made, etc. 

43.  Which is more important:  Proper angle or proper distance?   Proper angle  

44.  What creates proper timing?   The proper use of your eyes.  

45.  Which is more important:  Proper timing or proper position?   I don’t have any substantive reason for my answer but I believe proper timing is more important.  Why? Because I see a lot of umpire’s in lousy positions still get the call correct because they have good timing.  In fact, many of the major league guys do not take the correct position on many plays and still get them correct.    

46.  With no one on base, when should the BU hustle into the infield and stay ahead of the BR?   On any base hit, any fly ball that he does not go out on and on any ball that gets past the infielder by an error.   On an overthrow at 1st base, you will need to be able to get inside the batter-runner and be able to get to 2nd base ahead of him or even to 3rd base if the ball is toward the outfield and no one is backing up.  There are probably a few other reasons too. 

47.  On throws to first, will the BU ever be positioned directly in the baseline between first and second?  Explain.   Yes, on some throws that originate from the “imaginary box.”  The box that was described earlier in this Q & A.  Basically most balls that the throw originates from the home plate area is when the BU should strive to take the throw in the 1st to 2nd baseline.  However, if the 1st baseman or 2nd baseman is taking the throw with their left foot to the inside of the base; the BU will be straight lined.  If they are taking it off the front corner, then this is a good position.  

48. Name four disadvantages for going into foul territory for force plays at first base.         1) The base will sometimes block your vision if the pitcher touches or does not touch the inside edge of the base.        2) The ability to get back ahead of the BR if there is an overthrow.  I can’t think of any others at this time.  

49.  How high is the first base bag?   3-5 inches.  This size will keep you from seeing the foot touch or miss the base and therefore, you do not want the base between you and the runner or the fielder that is fielding the throw. 

50.  Explain the difference in making a legal tag of a base and a legal tag of a runner.   A legal tag of the base may be done with any part of the body as long as the fielder has possession of the ball.  A legal tag of the runner must be done with the ball in the bare hand, the glove only or the ball in the glove-hand combination.  

51.  Which umpire has initial responsibility for calling a runner’s lane violation?  Why?   The home plate umpire.  Because he does not have to focus on the safe or out at first base as much as the BU.  If he is doing his job properly, he is following the BR up the 1st baseline, straddling the line.  He should watch the release of the throw and then watch the BR’s position in relationship to the 45’ line, observe the play at 1st and help his partner if there is a swipe tag or pulled foot and also is responsible for overthrows into dead ball territory. 


Below is a simplified version of 2-man mechanics with no runners on base from Jim Evans Umpire School Manual.

He has this copyrighted so it cannot be used for profit.

I hope this helps keep umpiring simple because it should be as simple as we can make it so we can umpire and not feel confused.

Tomorrow I will send one covering Basic Responsibilities with runners on base.

Fall umpires, let's all come to the yard with the idea that we are going to have as large of a strike zone as we can possibly have and still be fair to the hitters.  The U of M coaching staff has asked me to relay this message to you for the games at Siebert and Alimagnet.  I am assuming it is true at Nieman also.  Be consistent from the beginning of the game to the end of the game but be as big as is legitimately possible.






* Any batted ball that settles or is touched before reaching the 1st base bag

* Any slow roller up the 1st base line. 

* All batted balls down the 3rd base line.

Catch/No Catch 

* All fly balls to outfield that BU does not go out on.

* All pop-ups to infield that BU does not go out on.

* All line drives to infield except those fielded by 1st or 2nd baseman coming straight in or to their left

Touching Bases/Play Coverage

* Batter-runner at all bases when base umpire goes out.

* Batter-runner when tagged before reaching the 45 foot line.

Batter-Runner’s Lane

* Responsible for all interference calls. 

* Help on swipe tag near first ONLY if asked by base umpire

Out of Play 

* Responsible for any ball going out of play in the outfield when the base umpire has not gone out.

* Responsible for any errant throw back into the infield that goes out of play.





* Any batted ball that bounds past the 1st base bag.

* Any batted ball that touches the 1st base bag and rolls past it (except slow roller)

* Any line drive that touches the ground or is touched near the line beyond the 1st base bag.

Catch/No Catch 

* Any fly ball to center, right-center, or right that the BU goes out on.

* Any pop-up on the line directly over head or beyond.

* Any line drive to 1st or 2nd baseman coming straight in or to their left.

Touching Bases/Play Coverage

* Batter-runner at 1st, 2nd, and 3rd bases when base umpire does not go out.

* Batter-runner at home plate if possible after he has gone out and returned.

* Batter-runner when in route to 1st after he has reached the 45 foot-line.

Batter-Runner’s Lane

* Alert at all times for batter-runner interference.  Call ONLY if plate umpire fails to do so.

* Full responsibility for swipe tag near 1st (ask plate umpire ONLY as a last resort).

Out of Play

* Responsible for ball out of play when he goes out 

"Put me in, coach!" Your positive attitude is displayed

 when you're ready to play and ask for the opportunity

 to get into the game. Tell your leader, "I've been

 doing things to prepare myself for this job/task. I'm

 confident I can deliver if you'll give me the chance!" 

 ~Paul Sims

Because we are beginning this week with our fall orientation session, I wanted to make it known that we are enthusiastic about having the opportunity to evaluate and observe NW Umpires and also the 24 new applicants.

I want to take this opportunity to welcome all of you to fall baseball.  The 24 new applicants are in competition to prove to us that they belong with us as an umpire.  I want those of you that are NW Umpires and evaluators to welcome them and work with them to help them become NW Umpires.

Reality is that we are all in competition with one another.  Let's make sure this competition is one of nurturing one another to become the best we can become.  Not only are we evaluating but we are teaching and helping one another to get better.  The game of baseball demands that we cannot just stand pat with what we know and can do.  We must add to our knowledge and skills each and every day to make the game of baseball and umpiring a better place to work.  It is up to us to improve the sportsmanship and quality of the game by how we approach our job.

Good luck to all of you in this quest.

Your colleague,

Larry Gallagher

Questions 31-40 are below excerpted from the Questions from Jim Evans Desert Classic in 2004.  This information is also available on www.nwumpires.com in Larry's Corner.

31.  When will and umpire’s timing be quicker:  When the BR is safe or when the BR is out?   The umpire’s timing will be quicker when the BR is safe because there is no need to observe if there is firm and secure possession. 


32.  What is the umpire looking for when his eyes are focused on the base?   The base umpire is looking to see if the 1st baseman has contact with the base and if the runner touches the base.  


33.  Describe four type plays that can develop when the pitcher is covering first base.   A tag play, an obstruction, interference and a force play. 


34.  What should the BU do when the throw gets by the first baseman?   He should try to get inside the cutout as on a pivot and be ready to take the BR to 2nd base and/or back to 1st base. 


35. What is the proper adjustment when a throw from the left side of the infield pulls the first baseman off the base toward home?             The base umpire will take a step, look and a lean toward the 1st base foul line.  He would use his left foot as the first step.


36.  What is the proper adjustment when an infielder’s throw pulls the first baseman off the base toward right field?   The base umpire will take a step, look and a lean toward the infield grass or toward the mound.  His first step would be with the right foot.


37.  Why do throws in the dirt create problems for the umpire?   Because they look like they might be a “true” throw and also, as you listen for the ball to enter the mitt or glove, you will maybe hear three sounds.  The ball hitting the dirt, the ball hitting the glove or mitt and the BR’s foot hitting the base.  This can confuse the best of umpires.  Also, there is the possibility of a pulled foot.  There is also the possibility of a juggled ball.


38.  Why do short throws to first base create problems for the umpire?   There is less time to move your head to focus on the play.        There is a greater chance of juggling the ball on short throws.        You have less time to make your decision. 


39.  What is the ideal distance for a force play at first base?   The manual reads 15-20 feet but the accepted distance and what is in the Federation and taught at the professional umpire schools is 15-18 feet.  The NCAA does not specify any distance but they do say the most advantageous position possible. 


40.  Should the umpire regulate his movement into position on how hard the ball is hit?  Why?   No, because all umpires should be trained to bust into their angle and distance.  If you can get to your angle quickly, you will have more time to read a “true” throw or a poor throw.  This will give you a better chance of getting your call correctly.  If it is a poor throw, you will have more time to make an adjustment.  This is a mistake many umpires make.  They do not bust to their angle and therefore, sometimes are suprised by the closeness or quickness of the play.  Getting into position early based on the origin of the throw, has helped me greatly in not missing these plays. 
Waiting for a play to occur is always better than just getting there in time.

Do not ever be surprised on the baseball field. 

"Surprise is an umpire's worst enemy!" 

This is a quote from Jim Evans.

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