Professionalism 2009



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.


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