High School

Assessing Your Communication Skills from Referee Magazine– sent on May 22, 2008 to Mentors and LG’s mentor group


 Here are some suggestions to improve your communication skills with fellow officials, coaches, athletic directors, and athletes. I hope those suggestions may become a part of your normal game preparation and assist you in many great years of officiating.How good of a communicator are you?

I suspect we all think we are pretty fair at effective communication until something out of the ordinary happens at one of our games. The football coach goes ballistic with a new wing official on his sideline and you, as the referee, are 40 yards away and you haven’t heard a thing. The coach has been over there screaming at you (the guy in the white hat) for some time and isn’t getting an explanation or any satisfaction. He thinks you’re deliberately ignoring him. He feels his only means of effective communication is to scream at you at a decibel level that only you can’t hear. Similar scenarios are acted out hundreds of times a week on fields and courts everywhere. Those incidents just compound our obvious communication problems.

Is there really anything you can do about that? The official’s manuals don’t give any guidance on stopping the game and explaining to an irate coach just what has happened. You will probably just have to live with that upset coach. Let’s take a look and see if there are any solutions to that dilemma that we as officials can do to prevent that incident from happening.

Let’s examine your effort at effectively communicating with that coach. Did we do anything to stimulate a constructive communication line before the contest? Have we made an effort to show any interest in a preventive officiating process?

The most effective way to stimulate communication with a coach may not be on the court or field. Try starting in the middle of the week with a phone call to the head coach confirming the game site, date, time, and anything that he would like to discuss about the upcoming contest. Most often you will find the most notorious coach can be very pleasant to talk to off the field. You may even want to discuss how the last game went, how his season is going, or any questions he had about his last game. There may be times you will want to leave well enough alone if it has been a long season. Your efforts to open communication will not always be fully successful but will show our willingness to at least listen to our coaches.  Remember, communication is a two way street and we might as well be the ones to initiate the conversation. Be brief, courteous, and above all professional.

Next is the professionalism of being on time, at the proper location.  It’s our responsibility, no matter what the circumstances, and we must ensure their adherence.  In all cases, check in with the game administration when you arrive at the site and again confirm everything is in place and ready for a correct starting time. You might want to confirm if the game clock has been checked out and is in working order.  Are there any extenuating circumstances that could have any bearing on the game (halftime or pregame ceremonies, etc.)?  Check out these items before the game and you could save yourself a long night.

The most important communication is a pregame conference among the officials.  If the officials don’t understand what they are doing, how can we expect the coaches to know what we are doing?  There is no replacement for a good pregame no matter how long you have worked with your partners. Try to cover all the situations that could happen.  Use a good prepared pregame plan and don’t cut yourselves short on time.  Cover everything before you leave the locker room or in most of our cases in the spring as umpires, our cars.

Your pregame conference with the coaches should be short, precise and cordial. Refer to the coaches as "Coach"; don’t use first names even if you’ve known the coach for many years.  This is where I differ.  This is the time to use first names but only if you know both their names.  A little work at finding out their names will also go a long way.  Most head coaches names are on the school’s website.  Go to www.mshsl.org for the high school games and to the college website for the coach at the college.  For summer games, the team usually has the head coach listed for the legion or amateur team.

Have a card prepared with the names of the officials and their position if applicable.  This can be done for high school games and college games but is only necessary where they really don’t know you or where you are asking them for a rating with your card.  The MSHSL has a generic card for all sports in Officials Corner that you can use but I suggest altering it for yourself because it really does not fit baseball very well unless you change some stuff on the card.  Use a check-off card to verify that all required subject matter is covered so there will not be any question about those preliminaries during the game. Listen carefully to whatever the coach might have to say during that pregame.  Hear him out but don’t stand around for idle chitchat.  This is not the time to renew old acquaintances or war stories or bad jokes.

You’ve done everything right and covered all the bases. Now the fun begins. How do we communicate with a coach that is quite upset and he thinks he is not getting a fair shake?  That is when the real challenge begins. Acknowledge that the coach is talking to you. Know when an answer is required or is he making a statement that requires no response.  Try to answer questions; if you don’t know the answer, tell the coach you will get an answer when time allows.  Ignoring coaches does nothing but infuriate them further.  Your answer may be simply that you will relay his comments to another official.

Good communication skills are learned and must be practiced all the time. If you continue to practice those skills, you can make them a habit. Some may seem repetitive at times, but they can and will pay great dividends for your officiating career.


The characteristic of ATTITUDE is one that can easily establish yourself as a good umpire or a poor one.  If you give the following tips some attention right now, even before the season ends or begins you will be taking steps to make sure you establish yourself as a good umpire.Let’s look at this characteristic in greater detail as we strive toward becoming the kind of umpire that is worthy to umpire for you personally.

  1. Cooperate with your partners.  Help each other.  Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance if you are blocked out on a play.  The main objective is to have all decisions ultimately correct.  Another part goes hand in hand with this idea and that is work on every play to not become blocked out.  Many umpires do not get themselves into the best position possible because they do not work hard to get that angle.  In other words, they are taking a play off because it looks routine.  My solution to this problem - NEVER, EVER TAKE A PLAY OFF!!!!!!!!
  2. Keep all personalities out of your work.  You must be able to forgive and forget.  Every game is a new game.  As in all walks of life, you will meet great and good people.  You also will meet some very bad characters.  In baseball there are great and good people but there are also some real bad people.  Our job is to umpire the game and make our decisions based upon the plays that present themselves to us and not whether the player or coach/manager is a good human being.
  3. Avoid sarcastic comments.  Don’t insist on the last word.  If, after an argument, a player is walking away – let him go!  In most cases, when we open our mouth, trouble will follow.  It is best to say as little as possible during any discussion you have with anyone.  Use the KISS method.  Keep It Simple Stupid!
  4. Never charge a player or follow him if he is moving away; and do not point your finger or use violent gestures during an argument.  In fact, don’t make any gestures at all during an argument.  The best place for your hands is behind your back folded together.
  5. Keep your temper.  A decision or an action taken in anger is never sound.  The old adage of counting to 10 before you respond is the concept we are looking at in this statement.
  6. Watch your language!  Never use language toward a player, coach, or manager which, if directed at the umpire, would result in the player, coach, or manager being disciplined.  This means whatever you say or do in this regard must be defendable and inappropriate language is never defendable.
  7. If the manager has a legitimate point to argue under the rules, it is your duty to listen to him.  An umpire can do this with dignity and no loss of respect.  Be understanding – remember, the players are engaged in a heated contest.  You are impartial judges and should maintain a calm dignity becoming the authority you have.  A coach once said to me, “the trouble with umpires is that they don’t care who wins.”  That is a very true statement and we need to remember that as an argument is occurring.  If you can, during an argument, try to move the argument onto grass if you are on the dirt.  This will help the coach/manager keep from being able kick or throw dirt your way.
  8. Always keep your uniform in good condition.  This goes for your body and your mind too.  Those umpires that go to their knees for balls and strikes have a real problem with this statement.
  9. Keep active and alert on the field at all times.  This means during play and between innings.  You might be able to relax some between pitches and between innings but it has to be an alert relaxation.
  10. Keep the game moving.  A ball game is often helped by energetic and earnest work of the umpires.  Use the rules to help you in this regard.  8 pitches for a starter and 5 in between is what we usually have in most of the rulebooks.  So, there is no reason other than cold weather games to have more than the 8 for the starter and 5 after that.  8 is also for the 1st inning with a relief pitcher.  Also, use the batter’s box rule to your benefit by reminding them that they need to keep one foot in the box.  This is at the high school, college and pro levels now.  Also, make sure you penalize pitchers for the 20 second rule if they are abusing time between pitches.  By the way, the pro rule is a 12 second rule except in the major leagues.  I would caution you on using the rule before a warning or two however.  Again, I would not be concerned until they are abusing the rule.  Don’t go looking for trouble.
  11. Be courteous, impartial, and firm, and so compel respect from all.
  12. Remember, that you are an official representative of baseball when on the field.  Act accordingly.  You are also an official representative of baseball off the field because those that know you are an umpire will expect you to be at the highest level of integrity away from baseball too.
  13. Always dress appropriately to and from the ball park and when in public places.
  14. Even when off the field, remember that you continue to be representatives of baseball and your league.  Never do anything that would bring disgrace upon your profession or upon baseball.  Always act, dress, and work in a way befitting your profession.



















This set of items are basically things I have witnessed over the years that are not very professional.

  1. Partners that do not respond to my trying to contact them prior to the game for meeting time, shirt color for the uniform, riding together, contacting the school or team, etc.
  2. Partners that do not offer to pay for part of the gas to the game site.
  3. Partners that do not want to have a pre-game at all.
  4. Partners that arrive late so you cannot have a pre-game. 
  5. Partners that dominate the pre-game conference with only their ideas.
  6. Partners that offer nothing to the pre-game conference.
  7. Umpires that do not understand the grey area of officiating is where we make our money.  The black and white of officiating calls itself.
  8. Partners that need to be the whole show.  Remember, the game is the show, we are just minor players.  The better role players we are in the show, the better it is for the game, the players, the coaches/managers, our partners and ourselves.  Also, remember, how we perform our role today affects the umpires that show up to play our part the next day.
  9. The previous #8 means UMPIRING IS ROLE PLAYING.  All you THESPIANS, be aware of that statement.  Those of you that have never played a role before, you don’t know what you are missing.  Acting is fun and really the highlight of umpiring.  For 2 hours every game, I can be a different person than my normal me and this makes life exciting.  Umpiring can be our avocation.  It definitely is not our profession, even though we need to act like it is our profession when we arrive and during the time we are there.  We must act and perform our tasks professionally.
  10. Partners that did not bring their plate gear in case of an emergency.
  11. Umpires that use willy-nilly language when communicating with you.  Not using the standards that are in the red manual.

a.       “I’ve got your back!”  What does this mean?  “I’ve got 3rd if he comes!” is the standard and not “I’ve got your back!”  Or, it might mean “I’ve got your back!” at 1st base too when there is a fly ball to the outfield and the base umpire has the catch/no catch of the ball with a single runner on 1st base.  This is a wasted movement.  If the ball is dropped, the base umpire needs his partner at 3rd base and not at 1st base.  If the ball is caught, the base umpire can take the only runner back into 1st base.  So, what help is it to cover a meaningless base?

b.      “I’m here!”  What does that mean?  Where is here?  Tell me the base and not that you are here.

c.       Saying “I’ve got your back!” in the wrong situation.  For instance with runners on 1st and 2nd and less than 2 outs (Infield fly situation).  A short fly ball into center field that is a “trouble” ball, where either the shortstop or the center fielder might have it, I heard, “I’ve got your back!”  I was thinking, “Ok, my partner is at 3rd base in case of a play there.”  No, he is at 1st base instead.  So, I have a tough play at 3rd base that I get correct but I had to go to the grass line to check on catch/no catch and then I had a terrible angle for the play at 3rd base.  This is why we need the correct language and also the base that our partners are covering.  By the way, why would any plate umpire cover 1st base with a runner on 2nd base and leave home plate uncovered?  You are supposed to cover 3rd base and get back to the plate in case of an overthrow but why would anyone be covering 1st base?

  1. Partners that will not compromise on mechanics for the sake of harmony.  Remember, when we work together we usually do better.  Remember, “A house divided, will fall.”  We all should work by the red manual but there are always some places where we will need to occasionally deviate from the standard (the red manual is our standard).  The reason we should follow the red manual is because this means wherever you work in the U. S. A. you should be able to fit in.  Wherever we go in the U. S. A., the red manual is a standard but there are always regional and local differences.  When you get to a place for the first time, you need to learn what their standard is but basically the red book is the starting place.  So, if everyone is on the same page with the red manual, the minor deviations are going to be acceptable.  My job as an evaluator is to help all of you to better understand the need for a standard and then try to get as many guys as possible to buy into that standard.



What does it mean to be a professional in the purest sense of the word?  It means in officiating taking each assignment seriously so that you prepare yourself physically, mentally and spiritually to do your best with the assignment.  This document is mostly geared to high school baseball.  It needs to be adapted to other levels. 


1.     This means you will study the rules and know them to the best of your ability. 

2.     You will choose to have your uniform and body in good shape. 

3.     You will treat all people connected with the game with the proper respect. 

4.     Pre-game details: 

     a.      Contact your assigner to get the games.   

     b.     Get in physical shape.   

     c.     Study rules by yourself and others.   

     d.     Attend clinics to learn about techniques, mechanics, and application of rules.  Rules knowledge alone is           not enough.  Continuing education is a must or you basically die as an official.   

     e.      Have a thirst and hunger for learning new and better ways of doing things. Watch successful umpires and learn not only their admirable traits but also their less than admirable ones.  

     f.        Select those traits that will best work for you and your umpiring.   

     g.     Listen to all more experienced umpires but do not use all they do because it may not fit your personality and also some of them actually will be speaking incorrectly about how to umpire.   

     h.     There is just as much bad information about any task as there is good and correct information.  For instance, about umpire stances for balls and strikes.  There are some real bad stances and some real bad reasons for these stances.  Jim Evans can really make it better for all of us.  There are some fundamentals that all of us need to do in any stance.  It is up to each individual umpire to discern between the information that will work for them and those that will not. 

     i.        Once you get an assignment, make sure you do everything you can to fulfill it.  Once the assigner has given it to you, it is really disheartening to have it returned and have him try to find a replacement for you.  Short of being on your deathbed you should be professional enough to fulfill it.   

     j.        If you have a partner for the game, call them and make arrangements on uniform, meeting time, who is driving, who is working the plate and bases, upon arrival conduct a pre-game meeting so your mechanics are on the same page as far as coverage’s and positioning, etc.  Or, conduct the pre-game the night before. 

5.     Game details: 

     a.      You will arrive on time so that the game will start at the prescribed time.  

     b.     Being on time does not mean you arrive at game time.  

     c.     If you are by yourself in a one-man game, you will need time to put on your equipment before you arrive at home plate.  

     d.     You are wearing the safety equipment under your uniform and carrying your mask in your left hand.   

     e.      None of your personal equipment should be left on the field while you are umpiring the game.   

     f.       You do not bring your dog to the game, your son and expect others to baby sit while you umpire.   

     g.     At approximately 10 minutes prior to game time you will conduct the equipment inspection with your partner.   

     h.     Both of you should go to both dugouts and ask to see the equipment.   

     i.        Make sure all equipment is at the dugout before you begin the formal inspection.  Point out to the coach any unsafe or illegal equipment.  Have the unsafe and illegal equipment removed from the dugout area.  If necessary, place it in your vehicle until after the game.  Try not to resort to this tactic unless absolutely necessary.  Trust the teams to be professional too.  Make sure the coach knows that it cannot be used again. 

     j.        You will conduct the conference at home plate and take line-up cards in the prescribed manner by your rulebook at the prescribed time.  This means 5 minutes prior to game time you conduct the conference in high school baseball. 

     k.     Remember, there is a prescribed manner in which this is done.  No players are on the field during the pre-game meeting at home plate.  Only the bullpen is operational at this time.  

     l.        You accept the home team lineup cards first and then the visiting team lineup cards.  You inspect them and make sure if you see obvious errors you correct them before they become official.  After the inspection, you hand the copies to the opposing managers and return one to the original manager.  Keep the original copy for yourself.  That is the official lineup for the game.   

     m.   Keep track of changes throughout the game in an efficient manner.  Announce the changes to the opponents and/or press box.  Do not go over to benches.  They are for the teams and that is their office.  Your office is at or near home plate.  You may meet the coach halfway or have him/her come out with the changes and you relay them to the other team.  

     n.     Do not go to dugouts for baseballs.  Have the baseballs brought to you.  You are not responsible for the foul balls.  The teams are and they must have baseballs in enough supply to keep the game moving.  Return the balls to the proper team(s) at the end of the game.  On deck hitters need to be instructed to get foul balls that get past the catcher. 

     o.     You will hustle intelligently during the entire game.  This means you will hustle when it is necessary and this means to be stopped when a play is going to occur on catches and plays at bases. 

     p.     You will not do more games per day than your body or mind can logically accomplish.  If you are in it for the money only, you chose the wrong part-time job.  You can earn more money doing something else.  If you are in it for the chance to do some good for yourself and others, then you will do the right thing by taking care of the details that are necessary to have umpiring as a great avocation for yourself. 

     q.     Remember to always have a goal of doing your best for yourself first and then for the people in the game.  This may not be the most important game to you but it is to the players that are playing that day.  You must have the mind-set that you are going to do your best this game.  This is how you build a successful career by doing it one game at a time.   

     r.       Some of you will not continue in umpiring more than this year but you also should do your best because you will always look back on the experience as being favorable or unfavorable.  This is something you have control of – your attitude for today’s game.  Remember we are never promised tomorrow so make use of today’s opportunities. 

6.     Your uniform should be clean and fit you properly.  Your safety equipment should fit you so it protects you.  Essential equipment but not safety related: 

     a.      Cap – sized and navy with no logo unless your association has one.  Always use the association cap when umpiring games for the association.

     b.     Undershirt – Navy or red that will wick away perspiration

     c.     Over shirt – Navy pullover with collar and sleeve bottoms (red, white & blue)

     d.     Ankle length under gear that has cup pocket – for cold weather and/or hot weather.  This prevents shin guards from rubbing on knees, calves and ankles.

     e.      Black or navy blue hose – knee high or above the ankle length – maybe second pair underneath.

     f.       Heather gray pants – preferably wider leg width for the plate.  Make sure they are tailored to your correct length. 

7.     Safety gear – build from the foundation: 

     a.      Safety shoe with steel toe and instep protection – shined anew every time you work.                  

     b.  Leg guards that are going to protect you properly.

     c.     Chest protector that will be worn snugly at the neck area.  Clean this often during the season so it does not give off an odor.

     d.     Protective mask – wire frame preferable for better vision – catcher style.  There are new hockey style masks that are in a reasonable price range now that are very good.  There is a special technique that is different in taking it off and putting it on.

     e.      Protective cup – I believe it should be worn on the bases too. 

8.     Miscellaneous equipment: 

     a.      Ball/Strike/Out indicator – used in the left hand only, plate umpire always has and optional for the base umpire.  Make sure your partner knows you are using an indicator or not.  My suggestion without professional scoreboard operators – both of you should carry and use it.  If the base umpire does use one, he should only use it in his pocket and seldom have it in his hand during a play.  Change it between pitches and cut grooves in the dials to know when you are back to 0. 

     b.     Small plate brush to be kept in breast pocket, rear pocket and/or ball bag. 

     c.     1 or 2 black, navy or gray ball bags.  If you might have more than 4 balls in a game, you might consider 2 ball bags.  I use 2 because I keep my plate brush in my right bag with 1 baseball and I have 2 baseballs in the left bag and then the one the pitcher starts with.  That makes four.  I also rotate the baseballs equally so at the end of the game they have all been used approximately the same amount of time.  I do not want to change to a new ball later in the game because I have been saving it for him.  I want them all to get a normal amount of wear and tear equally.  

     d.     Pencil/pen to record lineup card changes. 

     e.      Small, black and flat lineup card folder to keep in breast pocket, rear pocket and/or ball bag.



Below is an updated form that Phil Abalan and I put together years ago.  I updated it in 2006.  Most of the information has been updated on the 2006 date.  Phil was an exceptional man and a wonderful partner that I had worked with since the late 70's and probably umpired with 200 games in the process.  It needs some new updates to be current.


by Phil Abalan (died in 1994) & Larry Gallagher-updated in 2006 

I.             Make arrangements

A.           Get assignments from the assignment secretary.

B.           Call Partner to make arrangements.

1.            Who is doing the plates and bases?

2.            What uniform do we wear?  Jacket?  Color of shirt?  Cap?  Etc.?

3.            Time, teams, and place of game?  Time and place of where we will meet?  Who will drive there?

4.      Call the school or team to let them know you and your partner are coming.  This prevents double booking and helps confirm there is a game and where the game is being played.  This is especially important during the high school season. 

5. With arbiter being up-to-date with contacts, this is also something that needs to be done during the summer season too.  Call the school or team before you leave for your game if it looks like bad weather before you are going to leave for your game.  Make sure you are speaking with the athletic director or their secretary or the coach.  Document your call.  Who did you speak to?  What time did you call?  What was their response?  This will be important if you show up and there is no one there.  You will need to collect your half-fee for showing up and the more data you have to convince everyone that you did the right thing. 

II.     Arrival at the game site

A.           Check in with the head coach of the home team to let him know you are there.  Ask if the game will begin at the scheduled time.

B.           Get the game balls and rub them down.

C.           Inspect the field and equipment.

D.           Arrive at least 30 minutes prior to game time.  Have a pre-game conference with your partner.  The plate umpire should lead it.

E.            Prior to the exchange of the lineups, there should be a field and equipment inspection.  High school has a mandatory inspection.  This is not done enough to protect you as an umpire.  I suggest that it at least be a cursory look around the field to see if there are any problem areas.

F.      Do the exchange of the lineup pre-game conference 5-10 minutes prior to game time.  This is the time to get ground rules from the home team and ask if players are legally equipped.  This is not the time to visit.  Be professional and business-like.  Each coach and/or captain should stand in the batter’s box, the UIC or plate umpire stands in the catcher’s box, the base umpire(s) stand with his/their back(s) to the mound.  Always get the home team’s lineup first.  This puts you in control of the game at that time.  Then get the visiting team’s lineup card.  Check them over and then distribute a copy to each team.  Many times this has already been done but this is not how it is supposed to be.  If you do not get lineup cards, you are asking for trouble later when there is a discrepancy. 

III.    Signals

A.           Infield fly rule signal – hand across the chest with thumb up or point at the bill of your cap with index finger pointing up.  This is the one that most umpires now use in our area of the world.

B.           Time play – suggested signal – 2 fingers on wrist signaling time play with two outs and a runner in scoring position.  This means the plate umpire must stay at home because there are two outs and he needs to be at home to rule on if the run scores on a tag play on the bases for the third out.  This is not necessary with runners on first and third or third base only because you can leave the plate with a check over your shoulder as the runner touches home.

C.           Number of outs after each batter or if there is a change of outs during an at bat – use your hand(s) to signal the number of outs.  At about waist height or below, put your hand to the side and signal.

D.           Checked swing procedure – honest answer.  Do not hesitate to ask right away.  It will save you problems.  Do not wait for them to ask.  Remember only the catcher or coach may ask.  In NCAA it can be any fielder.  If they ask, you are required to ask in pro and NCAA.  In high school you can refuse.  My advice is always ask so you do not create problems for yourself later.

E.            Count and outs – “What do you have for a count?” or “How many outs do you have?”  Some umpires tap the top of their head when they need help on the count or outs from their partner.

F.            Verbal signals during play – “I’ve got third if he goes or comes.”  “I’m going out.”  “I’m staying home.”  In a rundown, “I’ve got this end.” Or “Half and half.”  Many others – see LG’s 2-man mechanics on things we say and do.

IV. Coverage’s

A.    Fair and foul – position A, the base umpire calls the foul line from the base and beyond the bag.  Plate umpire has up to the base.  A bounding ball or line drive over the bag is the base umpires.  The home run or ground rule double in the outfield belongs to the base umpire if he goes out to rule on a catch or no catch.  If he comes in and pivots, all balls to the outfield belong to the plate umpire.

B.                 Tag ups and touches – The base umpire has first and second.  He also has the batter-runner at 3rd base.  The plate umpire has third and home.  If the base umpire goes to the outfield the

 plate umpire has all the bases.  The runner must obviously miss or leave early to be called out on appeal.

C.     Fly ball to outfield or infield and line drives knee or below.  Plate umpire takes the routine ones.  The base umpire determines if it is routine or not by going out or coming in and pivoting.

D.    Non-routine fly ball and line drives knee or below.

1.   Position A – Base umpire has the right side.  Plate umpire has the left side.  However, if the 1st or 2nd baseman are diving to their right away from the base umpire,

 the plate umpire will take these too.

2.   Position B & C – The base umpire has all balls from the RF to the LF and from 1B to 3B.  Plate       umpire has all the balls to the foul lines.  This would include the SS and second baseman moving to the line to catch pop ups over the 1st and 3rd baseman’s heads.  The base umpire never goes out from position B or C.   He only

 moves to improve his angle.  He never crosses the base line.

E.     Who has third?

1.      The base umpire covers third when:        

a.   The first play in the infield.        

b.   If the plate umpire must stay home, time play at the plate or fly ball to right field near the the foul line with a runner tagging from second or even on a possible 1st to

 3rd situation for the base runner.        

c.   On a triple.

2.      Plate umpire covers third when        

a.   Second play in the infield unless he must stay at home for a time play or on all bunt situations near the home plate area.  The pulled foot, swipe tag and BR lane interference is more important than covering 3rd by the plate umpire.        

b.   There is a runner on first base or first and third and the batter hits a single.        

c.   There are runners on first and second and a tag up on a routine fly ball.  Except down the right field foul line.  Plate umpire should communicate, “I’m on the line.”

F.      Live ball.  Point the ball alive and say, “Play”.  This helps your partner know when the ball becomes alive.

G.    Dropped third strike – Signal and say “Out!” if by rule the batter is out.  Less than 2 outs with runner on first base.

H.    Batted ball hits the batter.  Signal and verbalize “DEAD BALL!”  Determine if it is fair or foul later.

I.       Check swing.  Honest answer unless there is a delay. If a long delay, go with “No, he didn’t!”

J.       Reversing a decision.  There are 5 possible legal times.

1.      A misinterpretation of a rule.

2.      A check swing that is called a ball.

3.      A swipe tag or pulled foot that your partner asks for help.

4.      A dropped ball by a fielder that one umpire sees but the umpire making the call does not.

5.      Opposite calls.  The prevailing wisdom is the umpire that is supposed have the coverage on the play is the one’s call that you should go with.  This should never occur if you communicate.

V.  Home plate conference (10 minutes before game time in college).

A.     Exchange of lineups – in duplicate or triplicate.  Home team hands you theirs first. 

       1.      Plate umpire faces the pitcher’s mound; partners are facing the plate umpire.  Home plate is between them.  The coaches and/or captains are in their respective batter’s boxes.              

       2.      Check for the DH.  Remember is different in all three rulebooks.              

       3.      Keep the hard copy.  Use a pen or pencil.  Use #’s when making changes.  Do not slow the game down for correct spelling or making substitutions.  If there is a press box, use them.  Don’t go to dugouts.              

       4.      Remind the coaches and review dugout control, the batter’s box rule, bench jockeying and force play slide rules – NCAA only.  This is in the NCAA book.  I am not real wild about doing this and usually don’t.              

5.      Properly equipped?  High school this is a must.  Batboys at all levels are to have a double-ear flap on their helmets.              

6.      Ground rules.  Conducted by UIC or the home team coach.


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