2009 Fall Baseball Letter #17

Hi Guys,

I thought I would put this little note at to all of you about officiating/umpiring today.  I know the season ends soon for all of us but there is some fall baseball left and the B and C tournament left too. 

The Class A tournament finishes tomorrow too.  There are some good teams still playing in that tournament.  Minnetonka is playing for the championship against Air Freight I believe.  It would be a good game to see if you have some time tomorrow.  The game starts at 1 pm at Dunning Field in St. Paul.  If Air Freight wins there will be a 2nd game.  If Minnetonka wins they will be the champions.

How do I get there from here?

(This column was written by Dee Burton, former associate director/supervisor of the Utah High School Activities Association. Burton lists things he looked for when selecting playoff-level officials. Burton is now vice-principal at Layton High School.)

There are many things involved in making the "VARSITY LIST" as an official and even more things to become a playoff official.

  1. APPEARANCE- Does the official look athletic? Is the uniform properly worn and is it neat, clean, and pressed? Does the official meet weight/appearance standards? If the official is not "sellable" people won’t buy the calls.
  2. MOBILITY- If you can’t get into position to make the call it doesn’t matter if the call is right or wrong. The coach won’t buy it. Players, fans, coaches and partners don’t like "long distance" calls. You need to be in the same area code as the call.
  3. RULES KNOWLEDGE- You can’t be an official without knowing the rules. You must memorize the definitions and understand them. They are the basis for all judgments and interpretations.
  4. COMMON SENSE AND A FEEL FOR THE GAME- You need to officiate advantage/disadvantage on the field. This comes from work, work and more work. A "rule book official" will only last so long and then the rule book will get you. You need common sense and an understanding of the spirit of the rule. Know if you have a smooth game going where you can let them play or a difficult game that needs more control. Every game is different.
  5. MECHANICS- You have made the call, now what? You have to communicate by what you say and do. Do your partner(s), coaches, and fans understand what you have called? If you think you are in slow motion with mechanics after you blow the whistle you are probably about right. How do you communicate with your partner?
  6. CONSISTENCY- What is good in the first minute is good in the last minute. Treat both ends of the field/court the same. As the game gets close and people scream and holler do not change tempo or calling philosophy. Tell them what you will call and then call it that way the whole game.
  7. CONFIDENCE- You are in control, but not arrogant or cocky. Be pleasant and not abrasive or combative. A sense of humor never hurts matters when used appropriately and in the right place. An official must exude an "I’m in control" persona when on the field.
  8. PROFESSIONALISM- Act the part. Officials need to "walk the talk" daily. Back biting, and the "he got that game because…" attitude won’t cut it. The only friend(s) you have on the field are the other people in the striped shirt, you live and die together that night. Don’t call the supervisor/arbiter for games; if they have them they’ll call you. The only way to bring honor to the officiating profession is to act professionally and bring honor to ourselves. Respect is earned, not inherited. Take the games you are assigned and don’t "barter" for a better, "bigger" one. Your time for the big games will come too.
  9. IF YOU ARE NOT HAVING FUN DON’T DO IT- Officiating is demanding and time consuming. It will take all the time in your life that you will let it. Remember that if you are married you have a family that needs you too. Have the mental presence to recognize reality and accept it. Not everyone will make the college level and not everyone will make the high school level. Accept where you are and be happy with it. But, if you are not enjoying the experience why do it?
  10. DANCE WITH WHAT BRUNG YA HERE- You can’t be something you are not. Take the abilities you have and develop them. Be yourself and to yourself be true.
 This is taken from Referee Magazine.

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