2009 Fall Baseball Letter #8

NW Umpires,
Here is Fall Letter #8 in regards to some information from Jim Evans "Maximizing the 2-Umpire System."
Also, I am reminding those of you that have not yet accepted your fall assignments that you need to do so very soon.
I am leaving to go to the NASO (National Association of Sports Officials) Convention in Tucson, AZ a week from today
and would really like to have all the assignments set for the Dick Siebert Fall Baseball Instructional League by that time.
Yes, I know we are about 1 month away from it beginning but I know that I do not like to not have everything in place
early because we all know there will have to be last second changes anyway and therefore the fewer of the unknown or
surprises we have the better our results will be.
One of Jim Evans favorite statements is to umpire so you are never surprised.  He states it like this, "An umpire's worst enemy is surprise!"  So umpire so you will not be surprised.

That is why you need to develop routines in umpiring.  We should have a routine for conducting the pre-game with your partner, the pre-game with the managers at home plate, your own pre-game preparations on observing pitches or plays at first base before the game begins, how you are going to handle trips to the mound, chirping from the dugout, philosphy of calling pitches, developing a rapport with the catcher and a myriad of other topics that I cannot go into here today.  There are a number of plans below in some of the signals that are used in the game of baseball.
Reminder about our August 19th orientation meeting that all new umpires to NW this year should be in attendance.  It
begins at 6 pm at the International School of Minnesota in Eden Prairie.  I have previously sent out the address and
will do so again soon.  Any member that has already attended the meeting in the past is not required to be in attendance
but all are welcome.
Jim Evans Information below:
Going To Mouth 

If the pitcher illegally touches his mouth with his pitching hand, the plate umpire shall call a ball on the pitcher.  The umpire shall signal this by touching his lips with the index and middle fingers of his right hand, then signaling one ball with the index finger of his left hand.   He shall give this signal facing the pitcher before tuning and signaling the violation to the official scorer.  It is also beneficial to give the signal to the dugouts to alert the managers of the call.  Time is out following the violation.  After the pitcher and official scorer have been notified of the penalty, the plate umpire shall give the new count so that the pitcher, batter, coaches and scorer are all aware of the new game situation.  The plate umpire should also examine the ball and require the pitcher to wipe off his fingers before putting the ball back into play.  We won't give this signal often in high school baseball since they can do it on the dirt and clean it off before stepping on the rubber without any penalty.

Time Play


If a runner is approaching home plate attempting to score as a play is being made on a following runner for the third out, it is the plate umpire’s responsibility to align the plate with the play on the following runner.  If the play for the third out is occurring at first base, the plate umpire would align home plate with the play at first from the first base line extended 10-12 feet in foul territory.  If the play for the third out is occurring at second base, the plate umpire would align home plate with the play at second from a position off the point of the plate 10-12 feet in foul territory.  If the play for the third out is occurring at third base, the plate umpire would align the plate with the play at third from the third base line extended 10-12 feet in foul territory.



Before signaling a protest to the official scorer, make sure that you have the protesting manager specify the exact reason for the protest and you have conferred with your partner before officially accepting it.

Additionally, record the exact game situation at the time of the protested decision on the line-up card.  Include the inning, score, number of outs, runners on base, name of the batter, the count and the person due up to bat for the defensive team the next half-inning.

Following the game, secure the line-up cards as they will be needed to complete the game if the protest is upheld. 

Signal the protest by facing the official scorer and drawing a “backwards P” in the air above your head.  This is probably not going to occur in fall baseball at all.

Trip/No Trip


It will not be necessary to signal that a trip to the pitcher has been charged in most situations.  If it is obvious that the purpose of

the visit is to discuss strategy or counsel the pitcher, no signal is needed (pro games only – Federation & NCAA where they have 3 total defensive trips available it is wise to at least tell them when they have had their 2nd trip in the game).  In other cases when

 the intent of the trip is not so evident, it is the plate umpire’s responsibility to discern the purpose of the trip and make it known to all participants.  If there is any question regarding the purpose of the trip, the plate umpire shall proceed to the mound with the manager/coach and monitor the visit.  After communicating with the manager/coach, the plate umpire shall verbally inform him whether or not a trip is being charged.  Once the visit is concluded, he shall then physically signal either “Trip” or “No trip.”  This signal is given to the opposing manager and directed toward his dugout from his position between the mound and home plate.

Defensive Substitute

A defensive player may be substituted during the game any time the ball is dead.  For the substitution to be considered legal, the defensive manager or his representative must inform the plate umpire.  Once the plate umpire has been informed, it is his responsibility to signal the substitution to the official scorer.  He does this by first getting the attention of the official scorer and then pointing to the defensive position occupied by the new player.  If multiple substitutions are made, the plate umpire shall indicate the number of substitutions with the fingers of his right hand and then point to the position each is playing in the field.


In some cases involving multiple substitutions, a substitute player will be inserted into a batting order position different from that of the player he is replacing defensively.  When getting the line-up changes from the defensive manager, it is critical that the plate umpire understand each new player’s position in the batting order.  Understanding where a substitute player is being inserted into the batting order is more important than knowing where he is playing defensively.  If this occurs, the plate umpire should personally ask the defensive manager and verify each new player’s position in the batting order.  He should then personally inform the other manager of the new player’s position in the batting order and also communicate that information to the official scorer.


(Note:  See Official Baseball Rules 3.08 for procedures governing unannounced substitutions.)  Remember, there is never any out for an unannounced substitute or not having a substitute listed on the original lineup cards.  It is a courtesy to do so but it is not required nor is there any penalty.  Only an illegal substitute can get an out and then only on offense.  Know the definition of an illegal substitute - someone that has no eligibility to play in the game any longer.  Such as a player that has been removed from the lineup and there is no re-entry or has already used up his re-entry time.  Go to the rulebook for further clarification.  Batting out of order can result in an out if it is done in the appropriate time frame.


Multiple Substitutes:  Straight Up/Flip

If there are multiple changes in the defensive line-up, this straight up signal is used to inform the opposing manager and the official scorer that the substitute players are being inserted into the batting order in the respective positions of the players they are replacing.

If the substitutes are not batting in the respective positions of the players they are replacing, the flip flop signal is given.  For example, a new right fielder and a new center fielder enter the game defensively at the same time; however, the new right fielder is batting in the position occupied by the previous center fielder and the new center fielder is batting in the position formerly occupied by the replaced right fielder.

If more than two substitutes are being made with changes in the batting order, the plate umpire should verbally inform the opposing manager of the new order.  He must also inform the official scorer by whatever means are available.

Offensive Substitute

An offensive player may be substituted during the game any time the ball is dead.  For the substitution to be considered legal, the offensive manager or his representative must inform the plate umpire.  This may be done either verbally or visually by pointing to the new player entering the game.  Once the substitution has been communicated to the plate umpire, he shall signal the official scorer.  The plate umpire will get the attention of the scorer and then point to the new batter or runner entering the game.  (Note:  See Official Baseball Rules 3.08 for procedures governing unannounced substitutions.)

Batter Interference


Though the batter can interfere with the catcher’s play at home plate in a variety of ways, the most common occurrence is interference   with the catcher while he is attempting to throw during a pick-off attempt or to prevent a stolen base.  This most frequently occurs when the batter makes an unexpected move in the batter’s box; or, following the batter’s swing and miss, he leaves the batter’s box and interferes.  Intent by the batter is irrelevant and no throw is required for batter interference to be called.

                “That’s interference!”            “Time!”   “That’s interference!”            “Batter’s out!”        “You, back to first!”

After calling the pitch, the umpire shall point to the interference.  If the catcher does not make a throw following the interference, the umpire shall call, “Time!”, point to the interference again and enforce the interference penalty.  The batter is out and runner(s) must return.

If the throw is made, the umpire must await the outcome of the play.  If any runner is retired on the catcher’s initial throw, the interference is disregarded.  If the throw does not retire any runner, the interference penalty is enforced.  (With 2 strikes on the batter, the batter would be out on strikes and the runner called out for the interference.

On backswing interference, the mechanics are the same but the penalty is different.  If any runner is called out on the catcher’s initial throw, the play stands.  If not, runner(s) return and no other penalty is invoked.

Catcher’s interference

If catcher interference occurs and the ball is not batted, the plate umpire shall point to the interference when it occurs, call time, signal   the interference again and then award the batter first base.

                “That’s interference!”            “Time!”   “That’s interference!”            “You, first base!”

If catcher interference occurs and the ball is batted, the plate umpire shall point to the spot of the interference while verbalizing “That’s interference!”  Keep the ball alive and umpire the ensuing play.

ü     If all runners including the batter-runner advance at least one base, the interference is disregarded and the ball remains live and in play.  All play stands.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

        If each runner including the batter-runner does not advance at least one base, the plate umpire shall then call time, point to the catcher, signal catcher interference, and place all runners.

“That’s interference!”            Allow Ensuing Play to Complete            “Time!”                  

“That’s interference!”                                            Place the Runners Starting With Lead Runner First

Batter-Runner Interference

Once the batter has completed his time at bat and before he has been put out, he is known as the batter-runner.  If he interferes with a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball, is touched by a fair ball after he has left the batter’s box (other than a deflected ball) or illegally interferes with a fielder taking a throw at first base, he shall be called out for batter-runner interference.  The plate umpire has initial responsibility for this call.  Time shall be called immediately when the batter-runner interference occurs and the batter-runner declared out.  All other runners would be returned to bases occupied at time of the pitch.

(Note:  There is an exception to this enforcement.  If the defensive team makes a play at the plate on a runner from third and the runner is declared safe before the batter-runner is called out for batter-runner interference (runner’s lane violation), the run shall count.  All other runners would be placed at the bases they had acquired at the time of the batter-runner interference.  This is known as an intervening play and is explained in professional interpretation manuals but is not clarified in the Official Baseball Rules.)

                “Time!”   “That’s interference!”            “He’s out!”

Game Called

Once the plate umpire has received the home team line-up card at the plate meeting, the umpires are in charge of the playing field and determine when the game shall be terminated.  To officially terminate the game, the plate umpire or designated crew chief shall signal the official scorer from the playing field that the game has been called.  Again, this probably will not be occurring too often in your career but this is one of the plans I was speaking about at the beginning of this discourse today.

                The public address announcer is responsible for notifying the fans.

                “Game’s called!”  Waving arms overhead in front of body two or three times.

News Flash

*NW General Membership Meeting - TBD 2020

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