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Rules, Mechanics and Guidance for Youth Umpires. Eric Gonzales Asst Chief Umpire. Agenda. Pregame Rules Plate positioning Signaling Detailed 2-man mechanics Game management . What Makes a Great Umpire?. Rules knowledge Positioning and mechanics Pregame preparation and management
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Rules, Mechanics and Guidance for Youth Umpires Eric Gonzales Asst Chief Umpire
Agenda • Pregame • Rules • Plate positioning • Signaling • Detailed 2-man mechanics • Game management
What Makes a Great Umpire? • Rules knowledge • Positioning and mechanics • Pregame preparation and management • Game management • Confidence and decisiveness
Equipment Checklist • Hat (never worn backwards) • Shirt (always tucked in) • Khaki pants (gray slacks even better) • Black belt • Black shoes • Plate Umpire (PU): face mask, chest protector, leg guards, indicator, brush, pen • Recommended for PU: Protective cup, ball bag, plate shoes • Recommended for Base Umpire: (BU): • Red flag • Sunglasses
Effective Pregame Management • First impressions are critical • Arrive 30 mins early if possible • Greet coaches from both teams • Inspect all helmets/bats • Helmets: NOCSAE certification, cracks • Bats: Little League Approved, 33” max, 2.25” max diameter, BPF 1.15 max, look for dents and cracks
Pregame Conference with Managers • Have a quick conference with both managers every game • Collect lineups • Identify ineligible pitchers • Very important: Ask both managers “Are your players properly equipped for the game?” • Equipment issues to watch for: • Dangling throat protector on all catchers’ masks • Long-model chest protector for catchers • Protective cups mandatory for catchers
Pregame Conference for Umpires • Briefly discuss how you’ll work together • Tag-Ups/Touches • Plate Ump (PU): All tag-ups and touches of 3rd base, except batter-runner • Base Ump (BU): All other tag-ups/touches on bases • Coverage of third base with runner on first and ball hit to outfield • PU takes runner at third • BU tracks batter-runner • Signals • Number of outs • Infield fly • Timing play
Key Rule Changes for 2009 • Pitcher can move to catcher if threw 40 pitches or fewer • Local rule changes • Catcher on base can be replaced by courtesy runner with two outs • Minor changes to AA pitching rules (see local rules for specifics)
Baseball Rule Myths • “Hands are part of the bat” • Batter hit on hand by pitched ball is awarded 1st base (unless swung at pitch) • “Batter overrunning first base must turn right” • Batter may turn in any direction as long as returns immediately to 1st • “Ball is dead on a foul tip” • Ball nicked by bat and going directly into catcher’s glove is live, just like any other strike.
Baseball Rule Myths • “When bunting, bat must be pulled out of strike zone to avoid a called strike” • For a bunt to be a called strike, there must be an effort to intentionally meet the ball with the bat • “Tie goes to the runner” • There is no such rule. The umpire must judge whether runner is out or safe. • “Runner must slide when play at base or plate is close” • There is no “must slide” rule. Runner can slide or try to get around fielder.
Baseball Rule Myths • “Home plate umpire can overrule base umpire” • The umpire who made the call can ask for help but doesn’t have to • No umpire shall criticize, seek to reverse, or interfere with another umpire’s decision unless asked to do so by the umpire who made the original call
Areas to Review in Rulebook • Interference (usually on batter or runner) • Player out, runners return to last base touched before interference • Obstruction (by fielder) • Runners proceed to base(s) they would have reached had there been no obstruction • Runners leaving early • Affects all runners; runners proceed to bases only if forced • Infield fly (0 or 1 out, runners on 1st and 2nd or bases loaded) • Batter automatically out, ball still in play, runners may advance
Signaling • The “Basic Six” • Strike • Ball • Foul • Time • Safe • Out
Strike • Stand up • Wait 1-2 secs • Arm high • Facing pitcher • Be heard (unless swinging strike)
Ball • Remain set • Wait 1-2 secs • Vocalize
Foul • Usually plate ump • Stand up • Reach up with both hands • Be heard (unless obvious)
Time • Same mechanic as calling “Foul” • Either plate or base ump • Be heard
Safe • Usually base ump • Stand up • Stretch arms wide • Vocalize if close play • Back to set position
Out • Both umps • Same mechanic as “Strike” • Vocalize if close play
An Important and Underutilized Signal: “Play!” • Wait until pitcher touches pitching plate • Point at pitcher • Vocalize “Play!” (if needed) • Remember to use this after all foul balls and time outs
Theory and Mechanics of Positioning What are positioning and mechanics? At any moment during a game, each umpire moves to a position on the field he thinks will give him the best opportunity to rule correctly on the next play. Two-man mechanics is a system of angles, distances, shared responsibilities and anticipation. Square Stance / Balloon Protector • Keep your head and shoulders perpendicular to the pitcher. Press the protector firmly against the underside of your chin. • Follow the ball with your eyes only – no head movement! Watch the ball all the way to the glove. • If it’s a Ball, stay in your stance and say “Ball”. If it’s a strike, stand straight up and call “Strike” while keeping your head and eyes on the ball. • Angle is getting the right line of sight. • Distance is secondary to angle. If you have the correct angle you can probably see the action accurately. • Anticipation is being able to predict what is likely to happen on the next play. • Shared responsibility is working with your umpire partner. Base Umpire / Hands-on-knees Depending on the game situation, you’ll stand in either position “A”, “B” or “C”.
Mechanics and Positioning … Made Simple (2-man crew) What are the key points? F9 • Base Umpire : you’re responsible for watching 1, 2 and 3rd. • Safe? Out? Touch Base? • Start from A, B or C position and then move depending on whether it’s an infield or outfield hit. • Plate Umpire: you’re responsible for all catches, fair, foul, calling pitches and plays at home. • If there is a runner on 2nd or 3rd be ready to move to a position to see the runner at home • Is it a force or tag play? • Show confidence … use clear voice and hand signals … sell your call! • Mistakes happen … just learn! A = None on Base F8 B = Runner on 1st BU BU R2 R1 F7 C = all other situations BU R3 B CU
Effective Game Management Tips • Confident calls • Be heard • Clear signals • Wait 1-2 secs before making a call • Don’t get too close to the play when making a call • Quick transition between innings • Hold to 1 minute, up to 8 warm-up pitches • Remind coaches and players that judgment calls cannot be argued • If necessary, can eject the player or manager (ejection report to Chief Umpire required) • Mistakes will happen—stay focused on the next play • Have fun!
Ejection Report (now mandatory) • Please include the following in an ejection report, which must be emailed to email@example.com • Name of person ejected and role on team (player, coach) • Home team • Visiting team • Division (Majors, AAA, etc.) • Game time • Time and inning when ejection occurred • One paragraph description of what happened
Questions? • Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org • Goal is to compile a running Q&A on the Umpire section of the Saratoga LL website