19 Smart Moves For The Baseball Umpires (1-5)

19 Smart Moves For The Baseball Umpire from the
Publishers of Referee Magazine and the National Association of Sports Officials


1.  Pay attention to your appearance

      Have you heard that one before?  You’d be surprised how coaches and players form an opinion of an umpire based on appearance.  The first part of appearance is how you dress.  By having your shoes shined, wearing a fitted cap and clean pants and shirt, you at least give the impression that you care.  One item that is a big help is having a spray bottle of water handy.  It can be used to get sweat stains off your cap, dress up a dusty ball bag, etc.  The second part of your appearance is how you look physically.  Being considerably overweight, wearing a beard, earrings or having long hair has nothing to do with your ability to umpire.  But those items have a lot do with the perception players, coaches, fans and even your partner may have toward you as an umpire.  Unfortunately, most of those thoughts are going to be negative.


2.  Let them play the game

        One of the best things an umpire can do is let the players play the game.  Umpires shouldn’t be looking for technical violations and other minor circumstances to show people how much they know the rules.  It seems that every time a new rule is introduced, umpires want to try it out, usually without much regard to the spirit and intent of the rule.  Use common sense when applying the rules.  One of the worst raps an umpire can get is that of being a “rulebookumpire.”  Unfortunately, it’s a reputation that will stay with an umpire for a long time, if not for the rest of the umpire’s career.  Certainly, you should know the rules, but just as importantly, you should know how to apply them and under what circumstances.  Ask yourself, “Why did the player commit a particular act?”  Was it because the player wanted to get an unfair advantage, or was it because the player didn’t know what he or she was doing?  You must decide and rule accordingly.  Let them play the game.

3.  Know how you’re going to call the game

      There are a number of times during a game when you must decide whether or not to make a call.  A good example is when a batter hits a stand-up triple, cuts inside first base and misses the base by an inch or two.  You must decide in advance what you are going to do.  If your philosophy is strictly by the book, you are going to uphold an appeal.  If your philosophy on this type of play is more toward advantage/disadvantage, you are likely not to call the runner out or uphold the appeal.


4.  Reward good play

        Most good umpires make a point of rewarding good play.  If a batter hits a ball to deep short, the shortstop makes a backhanded stop and guns the ball to first on a whacker, a good umpire is probably going to call the runner out.  However, if the shortstop does a juggling act on a routine grounder, chances are the runner will be called safe on the same close play.  The same thing applies when calling balls and strikes.  It’s far better to reward the pitcher by calling a borderline low pitch a strike than calling a borderline high pitch a strike.


5.  Have a good pre-game

There are two good reasons to have a pre-game, including one you may not have considered.  The obvious reason is to be sure you and your partners know how you are going to work the game.  Don’t think that because you have umpired many games with the same partner that it’s not necessary to have a pre-game.  Both of you have worked with others and you still need a reminder of how you are going to officiate the game.  The other reason is to get your mind on baseball.  There’s no telling what goes through an umpire’s mind on the way to a game.  The one sure way to get focused on baseball is to have a good pre-game meeting.

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