UmpTalk #3: Five Umpiring Nevers

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Sweet Lou getting in the grill of an umpire. Maybe he failed an umpiring never?
Sweet Lou getting in the grill of an umpire. Maybe he failed an umpiring never?

Umpiring is all about getting in position, doing the right thing, making the right call – but there are certain “Nevers” in umpiring that are important to learn as well.  This is certainly not a comprehensive list, but a great start to further conversation.

Podcast 3 Show Notes:

In my opinion here are the core sins of umpiring at any level:

  1. Never – Show up your partner
    • We all have situations where we work with folks we really enjoy, and folks we don’t care for very much. Same as in the real world.  The key here is the level of professionalism that you need to have as an umpire, needs to rise above.
    • But what if your partner really botches a situation? This is the time where you especially need to stand by your partner – he or she is your ONLY friend out there and you must work as a team – especially when the going gets rough.
    • It would be so easy to throw a fellow umpire under the bus, and we’ve all considered it, but that starts to catch up with you after a while and the same folks you see on the way up, are the ones you see on the way down.  NEVER show up your partner.
  2. Never – engage in an argument with a fan
    • Sometimes you umpire in front of a handful of fans, and sometimes you umpire in front of ten thousand.  You need to  umpire like you umpire in front of zero. NEVER engage in conversation with the fanbase. These are people next to the entrance, these are people behind home plate, these are people along the baselines. Just don’t do it.
    • After the game, get off the field. Don’t hang around. Nobody is going to pin a medal on your chest for umpiring a game, so don’t hang around and wait for that to happen.
    • This goes triple for during an argument – in many cases there are strict rules about engaging in arguments with fans. Typically, if something gets extremely violent or disruptive, go to the home team manager or head coach and have them take care of it. If you’re lucky enough to work at a park with security or a field supervisor, have them handle it. Don’t EVER take it on yourself to clean up or even eject a fan.
  3. Never – Give back an assignment for another assignment at the same or lower level – especially inside of 48 hours.
    • We talked about this in our first podcast, tips for new umpires – but this one can be expanded to umpires at all levels. Be extremely careful when giving back games – especially inside of 48 hours.
    • The general rule is only give back games where you can work in a higher league and never never never give back games inside of 48 hours – especially those where you work laterally or down from the league you’re in.
    • Assigners talk to each other and that’s the quickest way to get your schedule thinned out.
  4. Never – Equipment Faux Pas – (Remember first impressions)
    • Never wear your ball bag into the field
    • Never wear white socks
    • Never – Never open a cell phone on the field.
    • This is controversial and extremely difficult.
    • Impressions are important and you ARE watched. simply, if you pull out a cell phone, somebody is going to think you’re texting or dicking around on the phone.
    • That person might report it and it could affect future assignments – is that worth it?
    • Get a watch and put it in your pocket – if your games are time limited, pull it out only when time is up.
    • Only time I’d consider pulling one out is if there is weather in the area and you’ve got a really good weather app on your phone. But only do it when you’re conferring with ballpark staff
  5. Never curse on the field.
    • This isn’t really for decency or because bad words are wrong. That’s your own personal opinion.  This is because of the technological age we work in today and how offended people are at bad words.
    • Baseball has traditionally been an environment of locker room talk and bad words – if you don’t know this by now, you soon will. You hear it from coaches, players, fans – and this is all the way down to little league.  You get people who are super religious calling people every name under the sun and you hear the elderly team owner f-bombing you on your way out to the car. Cuss words happen in baseball.  The trap you cannot fall into is allow yourself to use them on the field – even in an argument. Umpires have to be held to a higher standard.  You hear great arguments like Bill Klem and hear how they f-bomb away – but this is a new age – everyone has a cell phone and everyone pulls them out when an argument happens. If you tell a manager to get the fuck off my field, well, you’ve cooked your own goose. That video WILL find its way back to your assigner or commissioner or worse, to YouTube or Deadspin.

Clip from beginning of show was from comedian Peter Berman.

Clip of Earl Weaver and Bill Haller

Earl Weaver and Bill Haller

Do you have more nevers for umpires? Sound off in the comments below! Or check in on our Facebook page and let us know about it!

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