Virginia Umpires NewsUpdated Saturday January 16, 2016 by Virginia Dixie Youth Baseball.
Umpires are an integral part of a youth endeavor such as Dixie Youth Baseball. The local leagues can’t function without them. And in Dixie Youth Baseball, these men in blue are friends and neighbors interested in the program, not strangers and in most instances not professionals. Still, there must be rules of conduct for the umpires even though they are volunteers working like everyone else for the good of the overall program.
Some leagues may want to establish a set of guidelines for their umpires. Some men volunteering to assist with this chore may welcome a few instructions. With this in mind, Dr. H.M. Cohen has written a set of general instructions for umpires. This is printed below, with the suggestion that the entire list may not be exactly what every league wants or needs. It is offered as a guide, an example for local leagues to use in preparing their own instructions according to the dictates of their own situations. General Instructions for UmpiresBy Dr. H.M. Cohen
1. Neatness is a must – a well groomed team of umpires coming onto the field makes a very favorable impression. The first impression is the lasting impression. Make sure uniforms are clean and in good condition. Be clean shaven, and a haircut adds a lot to the umpire’s personal appearance.
2. Be courteous at all times; however, avoid visitations while entering the field; never enter into any unnecessary discussion while on the field. There is no surer way to start gossip than by thoughtless familiarity between umpires and attaches of contesting teams. When umpires enter a ball park their sole duty is to umpire the game as the authorized representatives of the league. Keep in mind at all times that your position calls for the settling of controversies on the field of play and not starting them elsewhere.
3. During the game, if a manager or captain has a legitimate point to discuss regarding the rules, he has a right to do so. An umpire can do this with dignity, however, not for too long a time. Allow them to speak their piece, but never to the point where it may delay the game.
4. Keep the game moving, a one-sided game is often helped by the energetic and earnest work of an umpire.
5. Umpiring is often a trying position which requires the exercise of patience and good judgment. Never forget the first essential in working out a bad situation is to keep your own temper and self-control. Don’t develop “donkey-ears” and hear everything that is said. You can avoid a lot of trouble by following such a practice.
6. Keep your eye everlastingly on the ball while in play. Do not call plays too quickly or turn away from a play after making a decision. Watch for dropped balls. Many an umpire has developed the bad habit of calling plays too quickly.
7. Be in stride and in proper position.
8. Never allow profanity. Should it occur on the part of anyone in the game, a first warning should be given. Never be in a hurry to throw anyone out of the game. It requires tact, diplomacy and good judgment on the part of the umpire as to what procedure to follow.
9. While going over the ground rules, make sure both teams are in their respective dugouts.
10. Prior to the game time the umpire in chief should discuss thoroughly with his colleagues the procedure they will follow. This is most important. There will be situations where two umpires have become involved in rendering two different decisions at one given base; such situations place the umpires in a very bad light.
11. If the managers and umpires have been briefed on the ground rules prior to the series, then too much time should not be consumed in the traditional ceremonies at home plate. The umpire in chief should as quickly as possible introduce his colleagues to the managers and coaches. If the printed ground rules do not cover a certain situation on the field, then the umpire in chief should instruct the managers on the technicality involved and order the game to start. It is indeed boring to spectators to witness a long drawn-out discussion at home plate; however, a through understanding of the ground rules is vitally important. Failure to have a complete understanding of the ground rules can lead to troublr and delay the game.
12. Instruct managers and coaches that they cannot question the plate umpire on the calling of balls and strikes.
13. Do not allow unnecessary huddles around the mound.
14. Umpires between innings should not indulge in unnecessary conversations among themselves or with managers, coaches, players, or spectators. Do not move around between innings and visit with your associates. If you are positioned at first base, remain behind that base. Outside of specific duties try at all times to remain in the background.
15. A well-dressed umpire commands respect; never wear white socks, or brown shoes or a brown belt. Black or navy blue are the accepted colors. If wearing a full uniform, wear a white shirt and black tie. If the coat is not worn, do not roll up the sleeves of your umpire shirt.
16. Always carry a rule book. Many umpires have developed the attitude that it is beneath their dignity to pull out the rule book. This is not so – Major League umpires are instructed to carry rule books. If you are not sure of a rule, consult your associates and if necessary, the rule book. The first requisite of good officiating is to make sure you are correct. Umpire dignity may be important, but never as important as being right.
17. Try to be in front of a play at all times. A good umpire will never allow himself to be screened off a play.
18. Never allow a player to appear in the game unless he is dressed in full uniform. Make catchers wear a cap. Many situations occur where the catcher does not wear a cap – this should not be allowed. Instruct player to tuck in their shirts, especially the batter and pitcher.
19. Do not throw out balls on every trivial complaint. A slight scuff on the cover of a ball can often be smoothed down by the use of a little saliva and pressure of the thumb. Inspect all balls that strike the protective wire or fence. Plate umpires should never throw a new or alternate ball into the game after a ball leaves the playing field, such as on a home run. Wait until the batter and all base runners have completed their circle of bases to which they are entitled. Many umpires have developed a bad habit of handing the catcher or throwing a new ball to the pitcher the moment a batted ball leaves the playing field. Such a practice can lead to trouble. Wait until the play has come to a conclusion before putting a new or alternate ball into play.
20. Never declare a slowly batted ball hit between home and first or third a foul ball until the ball stops rolling. Calling such plays prematurely leads to serious trouble. A rolling foul ball may roll into the infield before going past first or third. Many umpires have developed the very bad habit of calling a batted batt foul the moment it strikes in foul territory. Should such a decision be made and the ball rolls into fair territory the umpire must change his ruling from a foul ball to a fair ball. Do not be in a hurry to rule a foul ball --- wait and be safe.
21. Under no circumstances should the plate umpire officiate without full body protection. Aside from face mask and body protector, wear shin guards and by all means the protective cup. Look straight ahead on all pitched balls. Never turn your head. Many have the bad habit of turning their head the moment the pitched ball reaches the batter; as a result they may miss the pitch. If a pitched ball should strike the umpires mask while looking straight ahead, the impact will not cause any serious harm. If struck on the side of the head or face, one can readily see the danger of such a procedure.
22. Maintain discipline at all times—the umpire has the full authority to do so. He should never hesitate to use such authority whenever or wherever necessary; however, NEVER ABUSE SUCH AUTHORITY.
23. Be courteous, impartial and firm at all times. It must be remembered that in any youth baseball program the approach to the problems that arise on the field of play are somewhat different from professional baseball. Umpires are not teachers on the field of play, but they can in some measure act as supervisors. When there is a penalty for an illegal act, the umpire can explain to the player or players what was done wrong and perhaps prevent a repetition of same. A word of encouragement on part of the umpire is by far better than a discouraging remark. The proper psychological approach to the various happenings on the field of play on the part of the umpire in youth baseball is by far more important than just the calling of balls and strikes, or calling a runner out or safe. I am sure that administrators of youth baseball will be in full agreement with this type of philosophy and thinking.
24. The moment the game is over umpires should leave the field. Do not wait around to rehash the game with managers or players. It can lead to arguments and rhubarbs.
25. Make sure that no loose equipment is lying around.
26. Do not allow anyone on the field or in the dugouts to smoke. This rule should be strictly enforced. This rule applies to photographers as well.