Fall Ball

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.

From the desk of Larry Gallagher....

select the link below to download the 'Things we say and do that help communication in the 2 man mechanics' document.


Good morning,

Information conveyed in a clear and timely fashion empowers a team to perform…at every level. ~Scott Beare


The above passage is somewhat appropriate today because I am hopefully going to deliver a message to you in a timely fashion and that all of you are part of the Northwest Association of Umpires team or hope to become part of the team.

Each fall we umpire and evaluate in the Dick Siebert Fall Baseball Development League.  The University of Minnesota sponsors this league and contracts with us the opportunity to umpire their games for a good fee.  We are therefore responsible to them for giving them quality umpiring and with the advantage that we are also trying to help develop our umpires into a more competent and skillful group.

We do this by having our veteran members evaluated once every three years, our newer members are evaluated each of their first two years and also we can bring in some new members each year for a try-out to see if they are quality umpires and hopefully add them to our staff sometime in the near future.

Therefore, we expect the umpires to behave professionally and work hard to be the best they can be.  To accomplish this we provide an evaluator from our membership to observe and evaluate your performance and report to us what they have seen.  They will also give you some post-game feedback in a verbal form and later, we will forward a written document to you about your performance written by your evaluator that day.

We will give you a copy of that document soon so you know what it looks like. 

Game Fees are broken down as follows: 

Total fee is $70.00.  NW Member Umpire receives $50.00 at the end of the fall season sent to you by the University of Minnesota (we will need your social security number in www.arbitersports.com).    $16.00 will be going to the evaluator for each umpire observed.  $4.00 goes to the assignment secretary.

A non-member this year will not be getting paid for their umpiring but they will be given a 2-game tryout and have the opportunity to be selected to our staff sometime by the Board of Directors in November.  The $50.00 that they would have earned goes to the NWAU, Ltd. clinic and development fund for future clinic expenses.  The evaluator still gets his $16.00 for the evaluation and recommendation for membership and the assigner still gets his $4.00 for the assigning fee.

Orientation meeting: 

There will be an orientation meeting on August 19 at 6pm at the International School of Minnesota for all applying umpires and all 1st and 2nd year umpires of NW Umpires.  At this meeting you should wear activity clothes because we will be in the gym at ISM and doing a few activites to orient all to some expectations on the field.  The address of ISM is 6385 Beach Road, Eden Prairie MN 55344-5234.  You can go to www.mshsl.org to find a map to ISM or you can mapquest it from your own home.  It is just on the south side of County Road 62 heading west after 169.


At this meeting, we will be distributing the Manual for the 2-Umpire System that is produced by Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation.  The cost of the book is $10.00.  If you were to purchase it from almost any outlet you would be paying $14.95 plus shipping.  In our opinion it is the most detailed manual for umpire mechanics at the best price.  You will be expected to learn and use it as part of your on-going education as an umpire with NWAU, Ltd.  There are 11 quizzes based upon this manual at our website of www.nwumpires.com.  All new members are required to purchase a copy of this manual from us.  Those of you that are applying may choose to purchase it or not.  If accepted into membership, you will be expected to purchase it at that time.  I am not mailing any more copies of it because it is too cost prohibitive to do so.

Accepting games and www.arbitersports.com

I have taken a lot of time with all of the applicants getting their availability so I can assign them the date they are most readily available.  So, please accept the games as we have already agreed upon.  Those that are already members were asked for their availability and most of you did a great job getting that availability to me and I believe I have done my best to fulfill your wishes.  A few of you that are members and are due to be evaluated this fall did not send me any availability and I placed you on dates based upon your calendar in www.arbitersports.com.  Later today we will publish the games for you to select for this fall in the league where we evaluate.  Please accept these date(s).  If for some reason you cannot, please e-mail or call me and let me know if there is another date that is better for you and based upon other cancellations, we might be able to accommodate you.  There are no guarantees however.

when you receive your assignments from www.arbitersports.com you will see that there are 3 positions.  One will be listed as the plate and the other 2 positions will be listed as base umpires.  One of those positions is for the evaluator.  Most evaluators know they are not umpiring that game but some may not know it.  If the 3 of you cannot figure out which one is the evaluator, call me and I will be able to tell you.

That’s all for today except some items listed below from Jim Evan’s “Maximizing the Two-Umpire System.”


The Out Mechanic

Since a variety of plays can occur at the plate and late adjustments are often necessary, the plate umpire will initiate all out signals from  the standing set.  It is critical that the base umpire sees each play from a stationary position.  It is recommended that the take plays from a hands on knees set position after he has read a true throw.  If the throw is not true, he will stay in a standing set and make appropriate adjustments, if necessary.              

The right arm should form a 90o angle and be positioned about 30o in front of your body.  The hand should be closed forming a fist with   the

thumb resting comfortably atop the fingers.  Under no circumstances should the thumb be sticking out.  Proper terminology is:  “He’s out!”

The Safe Mechanic/No Tag/That’s Nothing

The plate umpire shall take all plays from a standing set while it is recommended that the base umpire take as many plays as practical   from the hands on knees set position.   From the hands on knees set position, stand straight up with the arms outstretched in front of your body.  Position the arms parallel with each other and the hands separated.  The fingers and thumb of each hand should be together.  The arms should be extended parallel to the ground to appoint no farther back than the shoulders.  Proper terminology is “Safe!”  On close plays, a more emphatic signal is appropriate and taking an aggressive step forward with the left foot as you signal may help you sell the call.    

The safe mechanic is also used to indicate “No tag!” when a tag is attempted and missed (e.g. rundown) and “That’s nothing!” when there is no interference or obstruction on a questionable play.


 Either umpire may initiate the call of Time.  Only the plate umpire, however, may put the ball in Play.  It is important that you always know the status of the ball before signaling Time.

Raise both hands slightly above your head with arms bent approximately 100o.  The arms should be about 30o in front of the body. 

The hands should be open (no fists) with the fingers and thumbs closed and touching. It is important that your partner and everyone else on the field knows that you have called Time.  Use a strong, crisp mechanic and loud voice.


When there is any question regarding whether a fly ball has been legally caught or not, a signal is necessary.  A strong mechanic and loud voice should be used to convey your decision.  The more questionable the play, the more emphatic the signal must be.  The signal must   be clear and forceful in order to alert runners and coaches to the status of the ball.                                                                                             

The catch signal is essentially the same mechanic as the out signal but always executed with the closed fist above head height.  It has to be a signal that can be easily seen when the umpire has advanced far into the outfield.  The catch signal is accompanied by “That’s a  catch!” and repeated as necessary to sell the call.                                                                                                                                              

The no-catch signal is the same mechanic as the safe signal and must be clearly visible when the umpire has advanced far into the outfield.  The physical signal is accompanied by “No catch!” and repeated as necessary to sell the call.


With no runner on base, the base umpire will be responsible for many of the fair/foul decisions along the first base and right field foul    lines.  The plate umpire is responsible for fair/foul decisions up to the front of the first base bag.  The base umpire is responsible for all balls that touch the first base bag or proceed past its front edge.  Exception:  In the case of a slow roller, the base umpire will give up the line and move into position for a possible play on the batter-runner while the plate umpire assumes responsibility for the fair/foul.Both umpires shall take all fair/foul responsibility positioned astride the foul line.  If a ground ball touches the base or passes it fair, the base umpire shall signal fair by pointing into fair territory with his right index finger and arm parallel to the ground.  If foul, he shall raise both arms as if he were signaling time and then point into foul territory with the index finger of his left hand with his left arm parallel to the ground.

On fly balls that are beyond the general vicinity of the base umpire and require a fair/foul decision, he shall turn 180o while maintaining postion astride the foul line.

From a standing set, he shall initially signal fair/foul and then catch/no-catch, if necessary.  In the two-umpire system, the base umpire has no responsibility in this case for plays on the batter-runner unless he is able to help on a potential  play at the plate.  The plate umpire should come out into the infield and take full responsibility for all plays on the batter-runner unless the base umpire is able to get position for a possible play at the plate.

Ground Rule Double

When a fair ball leaves the park after touching the ground, the umpire shall signal time and then hold up two fingers indicating a ground    rule double.  The index and middle fingers of the right hand shall be held high into the air.  Either umpire may initiate the call depending on which one is responsible for the ground rule.  Make a clear, decisive signal.  Participants and spectators are not going to hear the umpire, but they will be watching closely for the signal.


Infield Fly

Either umpire may initiate the infield fly signal.  The signal shall not be given until the ball has reached its highest point, the apex, and started down.  Once either umpire has signaled it, the other umpire shall duplicate (echo) his partner’s signal.  The umpire’s job is to alert the runner’s to the situation and let them know that, regardless whether the fly ball is caught or not, the batter has been declared out     and the force has been removed.The proper terminology for declaring an infield fly is “Infield fly!  Batter’s out!”  This is accompanied by pointing skyward with the index finger of the right hand.  If the ball is near a foul line, the plate umpire shall initiate the signal and declare, “Infield fly, if fair!”  The base umpire would then echo the plate umpire’s signal, “Infield fly, if fair!”  It is not necessary to ad “…the batter’s out!”  Too many words, too much communication, could be confusing for the runners.

When the infield fly rule is in effect, umpires should be especially alert to the positioning of the infielders.  Their positioning rather than the location of the pop-up will be the deciding factor defining ordinary effort.

Home Run

The umpire shall come to a complete stop before the ball leaves the park, hits the fence or nears the foul pole.Once he determines that it is a home run, he shall point high into the air and make a counterclockwise, circular motion with his right arm  and index finger.

Make a clear, decisive signal.  Participants and spectators are not going to hear the umpire, but they will be watching closely for the signal.

Spectator Interference - this is not going to be an issue at either Siebert or Alimagnet as the spectators are seldom near the fields.

When a spectator interferes with a ball in play or a fielder in the act of fielding a live ball, the umpire shall signal spectator interference by grasping one of his wrists with the opposite hand in front of his body above his head, signaling time and then repeating the spectator interference signal.  By signaling the spectator interference first before signaling time, the umpire responsible for placing the runner(s) has a better idea of their exact location at the moment of the interference.  The ball is always dead when spectator interference occurs. If the base umpire makes the interference call, the plate umpire is responsible for placing the runner(s).  If the plate umpire makes the    interference call with his back to the infield, the base umpire will place the runner(s). 


When an umpire ejects a participant from the game, he should do so in a firm an authoritative way.  He should be neither nonchalant nor overly-dramatic.  He should maintain his composure and professionalism at all times.  Some of the most vicious and damning arguments occur after an ejection.  It’s important that the person ejected does not feel that you are “showing him up.”  Keep your language simple.  “You’re done!” or You’re gone!” are appropriate expressions.  Avoid sarcastic or cute phrases like “Hit the road!…To the showers!...See ya’ later!”

If you are facing the person you are going to eject, turn 90o and execute your mechanic away from him.  Point skyward with the index finger of the right hand. 

The mechanic should behigh enough in the air that others know that you have ejected someone.  It is important that your mechanic does not come near him or appear to be an attempt to strike him.

In regards to the fall league we are doing, this is a fairly laid back format and there probably won’t be many situations that would really require any ejections.  The most important thing for us as umpires in this league is to allow the coaches to coach and give them that opportunity even if it would take more time on a trip to the mound.  Usually no pitcher pitches more than 3 or 4 innings in a game any day anyway.  I will be sending out the rules to all of us later.  You will have an e-mail copy of them before we play the first game.

Have a great fall,

Larry Gallagher

Hi NW Umpires,

Here is letter #7 today regarding how well you are doing accepting the assignments.  Out of 510 umpire and evaluator slots that have been assigned you have accepted all but about 80 slots.  Good work here.

There are a 10 umpires that have not looked at the assignments and 12 umpires that have seen the assignments and have not yet accepted or declined them.  So that means a whole bunch of you have accepted your assignment(s).

Thank you for that.  I am encouraging the others to accept them soon.

There are some playing rules that I will be sending out sometime soon that covers some minor adaptations to the high school rules that this league plays under.

This is a reminder that we will be handing out the red (PBUC Manual for the 2-Umpire System) on August 19, 2009 at our Fall Baseball Orientation Meeting at 6 pm at the International School of Minnesota in Eden Prairie.  Again, go to www.mshsl.org and click on schools to find ISM and look at their address there and also a map of where they are located.  The cost of the manual is $10.00 for all members and those that are applying to become members.  Also, I suggest you go to www.nwumpires and look at the 11 quizzes that have been prepared regarding the red manual.  There basically is a quiz for each of the 10 sections in the manual.  The correct answers are also listed after each question in the quiz.  These quizzes are just learning tools for you to learn the red manual mechanics better.  If you have been evaluated in the past, you are not required to attend this meeting.  All new umpires to NW for this year and also all umpire applicants are expected to attend the meeting.

I will send out more information about this orientation meeting in early August.

More ideas and techniques below from Jim Evans "Maximizing the 2-Umpire System".


The Strike Mechanic

From his plate stance, the plate umpire shall raise straight up and signal the strike both verbally and physically.  It is very important that he keep his eyes focused on the baseball or mitt as he signals.  It is recommended that umpires signal strikes by the numbers e.g. Strike 1,   Strike 2, Strike 3.  The umpire’s mechanic, the arm motion, should be executed straight up or out to the side.  It’s critical that the right arm does not enter the space in front of the umpire over the catcher in order to avoid interfering with a catcher’s throw.  “Strikes” are vocalized louder than “balls.”  Strike calls should be audible to the stands.  Strike calls should become louder and more intense as they progress from Strike 1 to Strike 2 to Strike 3.  After rendering his signal, the umpire should step back and relax between pitches.

The Ball Mechanic

From his plate stance, the plate umpire shall signal “Ball” while still down in the crouched position.  The call of “Ball!” is a verbal signal only, no physical signal or indication/explanation where the pitch was.  The ball should be by the numbers and loud enough to be heard in the dugouts.  As when signaling strikes, the umpire should keep his eyes affixed to the ball or catcher’s mitt which holds the ball during this entire process.  As the catcher is coming up to return the ball to the pitcher, the umpire steps back and relaxes.


Foul Tip

If the bat touches a pitched ball and the ball then goes sharply and directly to the catcher’s bare hand or his mitt and is secured before touching the ground, the pitch shall be called a strike (foul tip) and the ball remains in play.  If the ball is not legally secured by the catcher, it becomes a foul ball.  Naturally, if the ball is swung at and missed, the ball remains in play and is physically signaled “Strike”.  Most people on the field, in the dugouts, in the stands and in the press box have no idea what actually occurred.  To convey what has  actually happened and eliminate confusion, plate umpires in professional baseball often use a foul tip signal.If the ball is barely touched by the bat and the catcher fails to secure it, the umpire shall aggressively signal “Foul!”  He may use the foul tip signal to explain what appeared as a swing and a miss was, in fact, a pitch that was touched by the bat.

The foul tip signal should be given at shoulder height or higher for better visibility.  The back of the left hand is brushed with the palm of the right hand and repeated two or three times.  If the ball is not secured, the umpire shall signal foul (time), give the foul tip mechanic and then repeat the foul mechanic (time).  I personally believe this will confuse too many people and therefore, just sell the foul (time) mechanic and use good timing on it.  If the ball is legally secured, the foul tip mechanic shall be followed by a strike mechanic.

Giving the Count

The plate umpire shall give the count periodically or anytime it is requested.  If the scoreboard is unreliable, it will probably be necessary to give the count more often.  He should raise both hands head height or slightly higher to indicate the number of balls with the fingers of his left hand and signal the strikes with the fingers of the right hand.  Raising both hands simultaneously with the palms facing outward, he verbalizes the count in a voice audible to the dugouts and coaches at first and third.  He may also turn and display the count to the coaches. The number of balls are stated first followed by the number of strikes (e.g. two balls no strikes/one ball two strikes/no balls one strike).  One should never use the term “zero” in describing the number of balls or strikes nor ever signal a 3 ball 2 strike full count by displaying two closed fists.  Two closed fists raised above the head could easily be mistaken for the time mechanic.  The indicator remains securely held between the thumb and the palm of the left hand as the count is given.

Time/Holding Up the Pitcher/Play

When the plate umpire initiates the call of time, it is important that his partner and everyone else on the playing field knows that time has been called. 

He should raise both hands above his head with arms bent slightly more than 90o with elbows approximately 45o in front of his shoulders.

The fingers shall be held together and palms facing forward.  The indicator is secured against the palm with the left thumb and the mask remains on.  Naturally, if the timeout is more than momentary, it is acceptable to remove the mask. Before the first pitch of any inning or following any dead ball situation, the plate umpire should be sure that the pitcher does not deliver the pitch before the batter is ready.  Once the pitcher has assumed his position on the rubber and the catcher is in position behind the plate, the plate umpire shall move into his ready position.  As the batter is moving into the box and preparing to assume his batting   position, the umpire shall put his right hand up in front of his body at least head height to prevent the pitcher from delivering a pitch before the batter is set.  This signal should never be used to initiate the call of time but may be used to indicate that the ball is still dead following the call of time. 

I am suggesting that too many umpires use this signal too often and at the wrong time.  I suggest that it is better to let the catcher help you manage this part of the game.  Make sure he knows he cannot quick pitch the batter and work on his better instincts of making it fair for both the pitcher and the batter.  Let him know he should not be giving any signs before the catcher knows the batter’s feet, hands and eyes are ready.  I have had to call a “quick pitch” only once in my umpiring career because I could not convince the catcher to take care of this without causing me and the opposing batters a problem.  It meant a 3-2 walk in the bottom of the 9ththat put the lead-off batter on and he eventually scored the winning run. 

No, I wasn’t popular but no one could say I had not tried very diplomatically to have the catcher comply with my request.  I finally had to take a stand and it happened to be in the last inning.   There were 4 previous times in the game that I could have called it but I just tried to work with the catcher on this and it did not work without finally imposing the penalty.

Once the batter is reasonably set and the pitcher is engaged with the rubber prepared to deliver the pitch, the umpire shall point aggressively to the pitcher and order “Play!”

Overthrow Out of Play/Placing the Runner

With one exception, the plate umpire is responsible for all overthrows that go out of play.  In some systems, the base umpire is responsible for the overthrow when he has moved into foul territory due to pressure.  As soon as the ball enters dead ball territory, he shall signal time, point to the runner and then point to the base which the runner is awarded.  He shall verbalize, “Time!” (then point to the runner) Second base!” or whatever base is being awarded (as he points to the awarded base).  If there are multiple runners, he shall    do this for each runner starting with the lead runner first.If the ball goes out of play behind the plate, the plate umpire has initial responsibility for calling time and the base umpire takes responsibility for placing the runner(s).  Since the plate umpire will have his back to the infield in this situation, the base umpire will be able to more accurately place the runner(s).

I am asking all umpires that are expected to be in fall baseball to give me a list of their dates in priority order of when they are able to umpire this fall at either Siebert or Alimagnet.

The dates are August 22 & 23; August 29 &30; September 12 & 13; September 19 & 20; September 26 & 27; October 3 & 4.

The following umpires are expected to be observed this fall:  Steve Fulton, Jeff Grasto, Matt Hordyk, Scott Schuler, Kurt Seurer & Don Zeyen.  Mitch Burmis, Todd Cornelius, DJ Earls, John Faison, Bill Krogman, Nick Levar (evaluated 2 or 3 years ago), Josh Maiman (evaluator too), John Matzke, Aaron Olmanson and Matt Popek.  Erik Anderson, Rich Baker, John Bell, Mike Budion (evaluator too), Brian Dorr, Mike Kaufman, Zar Kovalov (evaluator too), Jeff Larson, Mike Sticha (evaluator too), Bill Szabo, Matt Sorenson, Dan Feigum and Ed Hagberg.

Veteran umpires that are due to be evaluated are listed below:  Dean Aasgaard (evaluator too), Steve Agard, Eric Almond, Tony Anderson (evaluator too), Matt Brown (evaluator too), Mike Casey, Adrew Craddock, Nick Izzo, Bryce Jacobson (evaluator too), Dan Kneeland, Brent Kuphal, Duane Reed, Tony Schrepfer, Tim Steinbach, Josh Wigley, Brad Wilkinson (evaluator too) & Doug Zimanske.

If you have not yet given me any dates, please do so as I am going to start the scheduling process in arbiter next week.

For new applicant umpires, if you have not yet given me any dates as of yet, please do so.  Again, I am going to stop accepting applicants to our list of fall umpires on Monday, July 13, 2009 at 12 noon.  So, if I have not heard that you are interested by that date, we will not be able to incorporate you into the try-outs for Northwest Association of Umpires in our fall baseball program.

I have spoken with the following applicants and they only need to give me their best dates if they have not already done so:  Dave Altier, Steve Austin, Josh Benesh, Jerry Duncan, Marc Fiorvanti, Curtis Gambrell, Peter Gottschalk, Brad Gerten, Nick Hartle, Mike Healy, Jeff Hewitt, Jason Hofstedt, John Masberg, Dereck Neal, Rogelio-Piloto Oliva, Robert Sluinkman Jr., Mike Smith.

For those that have not received all of the Fall Baseball Letters, please go to www.nwumpires.com to read them.  They are posted under the news section to the right of the website.  This letter is fall baseball letter #5.

Some items to consider about umpiring are listed below:


Since all umpiring should be done from a static set position, all signaling will originate from a set position.  A common mistake that many umpires make is observing the play while moving and then coming set to signal the decision.  It is critically important to be set (stopped when the play happens and then move, if necessary, to render the signal.  Following are two recommended set positions:               

The Standing Set               

The standing set is assumed by squaring to the play with feet firmly planted slightly more than shoulder-width apart and knees slightly   bent.  Your weight favors the balls of the feet thereby providing a more athletic stance.  From this position, you can lean one way or the other or take a quick step or two either direction in order to adjust to a non-routine play.               

The standing set shall be used for fair/foul, catch/no-catch, interference, obstruction, overthrows, tags between bases and any other play in which a follow-up play is likely (e.g. front end of double play).  Since there are a variety of plays that can occur at home plate and late adjustments are often necessary, it is recommended that the plate umpire take all plays at the plate in a standing set.               

The Hands On Knees Set               

When the pitcher engages the rubber, the base umpire shall go into the hands on knees set (HOKS) position and stay focused on the pitcher until the pitch is imminent.  Once the pitch is imminent, he shall redirect his attention to the batter.               

For all normal force plays at first, tag plays near bases, all pick-offs and all steals, it is recommended that you use this set position to keep your head (and eyes) stationary.  There will be times, however, when it is not practical for the base umpire to assume a hands on knees set position (e.g. during a rundown, the front end of a double play, any time subsequent play is possible on another runner and any time moving to another position on the field following the call is necessary. 

To create a solid hands on knees set position:

1.        Spread legs slightly farther than shoulder-width apart.    

2.        Squat straight down; do not bend from the waist.

3.        Bend slightly forward from the waist (torso lean).

4.        Position your hands slightly above the knees with fingers together gripping the legs outside the knees with a “V” formed between your thumb and index finger.

5.        The arms should form a virtual straight line and be relaxed.

6.        Keep your chin parallel to the ground.  Do not drop your head.

7.        Relax your shoulders to dissipate physical tension.

8.        Keep your weight forward to enhance agility.

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