Pre-game Conference


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.