Category: Umpire Stories

Keep Helmet On

Story submitted by a Little League Umpire

Umpired tonight with Fred. It was a good game. I had to remind a coach during warm ups that his catcher needed a mask. That wasn’t bad.

One issue that came up was a dropped third strike situation where the batter just stood there, and sort of walked back to his dugout. He’s never went out of play, but what he did do was take his helmet off. Once he did that he was out. One of the parents said, run to first, run to first, trust me, run to first. That parent was right, he really could run to first as he didn’t go out of play yet, but he did make an error in taking off his helmet, which the home plate umpire called him out for.

Obstruction?

Story submitted by a Little League Umpire

I had a situation tonight where there was a base hit with a runner on first base. As the runner was going from first to second, the second baseman was standing in the path, just not paying attention. This caused the runner to try and get around the fielder and they both did a shuffle. The shortstop fielded the ball and threw to second base for the third out of the inning.

What’s the call there? Does the runner get to second base automatically due to an obstruction? The way I understand the rules is yes. As soon as the runner needs to move or veer away to get to their base, that is obstruction. Do you agree?

Dropped Third Strike

Story submitted by a Little League Umpire

The story of my first day umpiring a Little League game or at least a couple strange occurrences.

The group of umpires I’m involved with doesn’t have new umpires work behind the plate, so my first experience started in the field.

I was very nervous, and wasn’t sure exactly what to do or even stand.  Luckily for me, I did watch some videos and positioned myself ten feet behind first base and in foul territory.

Wow, was I nervous.  I focused on what was happening and made sure to put my hands on my knees and watch the ball move toward home plate.  The batter hit the ball to short stop.  I moved into position about 90 degrees to the play and watched the batter-runner while listening to the ball hit the glove. 

I put my hand up, made a fist and called him out.  Wow, okay that felt pretty good.

The game continued, and I did an okay job throughout.  Then something strange happened regarding a dropped third strike.

Scenario

Bottom of the 6th inning.  The team up to bat is down by three runs.  The batter’s count is 3-2 (full).  The ball is pitched and the batter swings and misses the ball completely.  The ball goes past the catcher, all the way to the backstop.  The catcher stands up and moves to find the ball.  The batter begins running toward first.  The 1st base runner moves to second, second moves to third, and third crosses the plate. 

The home plate umpire says out, game over.  I thought, hmmmm, I don’t think the game is over, that run scores.  I’m trying to run through my head, why is the game over?  What rule am I missing?  I think, wait, the game isn’t over, the catcher needs to either step on home plate for the force out or throw down to first base before the batter reaches the bag.

I start to make my way toward home plate to talk to the other umpire (we will call him Fred – definitely not his name) and as I make my way over there, all the players slap five and clear the field.  I talk to the home plate umpire and ask why it was the third out. Fred says yeah, dropped third strike the batter is out as bases were loaded.

I explained, I don’t think the game is over, but at that point, the field emptied. Fred said, I’ll check on that and let you know. About 45 minutes later, he called me and said, hey, you were right. The run scored and there would still only be 2 outs.

One of the strange things I was surprised about is that the home team didn’t say something right away but they may not have realized it.

So, what should I have done in that situation? I’ve asked a couple other umpires and they said, next time try to call time out and have the discussion before everyone leaves the field.

So that made my first game extremely memorable as well as gave me a great learning experience.

Umpire Confidence

Story submitted by a Little League Umpire

Umpiring with Bobby again. If you don’t remember him, he’s the big guy over 6 feet tall and umpiring for 30 years.

I made a mistake on a call tonight and didn’t have umpire confidence. Well, not so much on the call itself. More so on what I did right after I made the call. Learn from my mistake and don’t do what I did.

Situation

Batter hits a ball to the short stop, I move from foul territory behind first into position to make the call for the throw from short stop to first base. Wow was it close. I called the batter-runner safe. Not very confidently mind you. That was a mistake.

I got in my own head and called time. I conferred with the home plate umpire. I really shouldn’t have done that, but I wasn’t feeling very confident. So Bobby says to me, what do you think. I said well I think he was safe, but wanted to get your opinion. He said, I think he was out by just a hair. Sooooo, I said, okay…..and I changed the call to out. I really couldn’t ask him his opinion and then not take his advice, that’s just dumb.

This was completely my fault as I should have just made a confident call and let it go. I should have never asked for an opinion on this play.

Well, what do you know what happens? One of the mom’s was videoing her son playing and they showed me after the game, he was safe. It was the right call. I messed up. My reaction was, too bad there is no replay in our league.

My advice, make your call confidently and live with it in a situation like this. Umpire confidence is important!

Infield Fly

This is a story submitted by a Little League Umpire

Today, I worked with an umpire named Bobby (not his real name). Bobby is a big guy. Well over six feet tall. He has been umpiring for something like 30 years, but started when he was young.

He’s friendly and can really talk your ear off. Nothing wrong with that, he’s easy to get a long with.

He taught me something cool that I didn’t learn while watching umpiring videos. How to signal between umpires, when it’s an infield fly situation. This helps for each umpire to know what the situation is, and the potential for calling infield fly.

What is the infield fly rule?

When runners are on first and second or loaded with less than 2 outs, any ball hit in the air to the infield, which by the umpires judgement can be caught using regular skills, the umpire points directly up at the ball and calls infield fly, batter’s out. Now, the runners can still advance at their own risk, but the batter is out. As you probably already know, the reason for this is to stop the fielding team from purposely dropping the ball and turning a double play.

So, Bobby says to me, when you are in the field and we have an infield fly situation, some guys put their fist to their chest, but you to do it properly, if there is one out, hold one finger up to the brim of your hat. If there are not outs, then hold a fist to the brim of your hat.

And that’s how I learned to signal the other umpire that infield fly is in effect.