2009 Fall Baseball Letter #3

Hi NW Umpires,

Here is another item for us to take a look at in regards to signals between partners. I will send some information in a day or two about set positions.

Peace, Larry Gallagher


12.08 Infield Fly Signal With runners on first and second or bases loaded with less than two outs, the possibility of an infield fly situation exists. Umpires should alert each other to this fact prior to each batter as long as the situation exists. Either umpire may initiate this reminder signal and his partner should acknowledge it by returning the same signal. There are two conventional signals for the infield fly rule:

1. Placing the right arm across the chest with your right hand over your heart; or

2. Touching the bill of your cap with the index finger of your right hand. For consistency, both umpires should use the same signal.

12.09 Time Play Signal Time plays may occur in a variety of situations. It is not practical to give the time play signal in each conceivable case. Anytime there are two outs and a runner on second, it is recommended that the signal be given. This would include situations in which there is a runner on second only, runners on first and second, runners on second and third or bases loaded. It is important that the plate umpire stays alert and recognizes that a time play at the plate can occur on a play which started with only one out.

Example of this is a fly ball to the outfield with one out and a runner on 3rd and the throw goes to another base. The plate umpire initiates the signal by indicating two outs with the index and middle fingers of his right hand extended in front of his chest. He then points to the plate with his right index finger. This is a reminder that he is staying home. The base umpire mirrors this signal. Many amateur umpires will point at their left wrist with 2 fingers to signify the time play instead of the above. LG’s idea and not Jim Evans information.

12.10 Getting Help on Half-Swings Under professional rules, the plate umpire is required to get help on a half-swing when he has ruled the pitch a ball and the catcher or manager requests him to do so. Before he has rendered a decision, he may also ask for help on his own even though no request has been made. When asking for help, he should step out from behind the plate and point directly to his partner with the index finger of his left hand and verbally ask, “Did he go?” It is important that his request for help is made with the left hand. This eliminates any chance of his request being mistaken for a strike call. His partner shall either confirm that the batter did not commit to the pitch by stating and signaling, “No! He didn’t go!” or reverse the plate umpire’s call by stating and signaling, Yes! He went!” If the base umpire agrees with the plate umpires’ decision, no further explanation is necessary. If the base umpire reverses the original decision, then it will be necessary for the plate umpire to alert the players and to announce the proper count. He does this by stating, “Then that’s a strike! No balls…one strike!” He shall visually give the count so that there is no confusion among the players, coaches, managers and press box personnel.

FYI If you attend a minor or major league game in your area or watch one on TV, you may notice the umpires executing a variety of other hand signals each time a new batter comes to bat when there are runners on base. Professional umpires use these signals to remind each other of their individual responsibilities once the ball is put in play. In the three and four-umpire systems, one of the umpires is going out on any possible trouble ball in the outfield, a luxury you are not afforded in the two-umpire system. Umpire responsibilities are constantly changing based on the number of outs, where the ball is hit and the type of ball hit (e.g. line drive or high fly).

To provide the most effective coverage,communication is critical. Other Signals That Amateur Umpires Might Use – LG’s ideas

1. Rotations – a. Pointing at third base when you are going to cover third on a base hit. Or, simply circle both index fingers below the waist to represent normal rotation. More often used in the 3 or 4-umpire system.

b. Pounding both fists together with runners on 1st and 2nd base with less than 2 outs signifying the plate umpire will cover 3rd on a fly ball tag-up situation.

Strike Three – a. Ball in the dirt, the base umpire usually points at the ground or gives an open hand for a ball in the dirt and a closed fist if it is a catch.