Umpire discussion

Those who are or have been umpires (baseball or softball). Open for discussions/comiserating.

Here’s a current question:
Do you bring your gear/kit to games that you attend as a spectator in case there is a need?

Our area is collectively short of officials . Like games getting uncovered weekly somewhere i hear about. I am heading to my kid’s tournament tomorrow to watch. Would take a game if they needed, but prefer they dont need. Is it weird to be ready just in case?


As a soccer referee, I keep my gear ready, an I advise other referees to do so when they play away from our home area.

Unsolicited advice: try to understand the MAIN REASON people are not or are no longer sports officials, and work to fix that.
One is aging out of Boomers. But there is another.

Here’s a start:

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I usually had my gear with me.

I also usually had a second set of everything - clothes, whistles, clickers, masks, the works - in case I needed it for whatever reason or the other person forgot something. I took that lesson from way back early in my career when I went to go work a game and didn’t have black socks, and the guy I was working with reaches into his second bag and pulls out a pair of black socks for me.

I don’t officiate now, but that’s primarily due to a lack of time and being fat. [Which, I’m working on.] Well, that and surgeries through this year. Fan rudeness never bothered me, but I also worked in places where TPTB squashed that crap if it started. That was also 20-25 years ago, I recognize a whole lot has changed since, but I don’t think (would like to think) it would bother me any more today than it did back then.

Whether it bothers you or not is moot. Ignoring it on your game gives the abusers a belief that they can do it at the next game with an umpire who is bothered by it and doesn’t come back. Think macro- instead of micro-.
Basic question is: do you want the kids to play? If so, then cutting the abuse (which TPTB everywhere need to quash) is necessary at this level.
(Go and (verbally) abuse MLB umps all you want, IMO.)

I’d appreciate it if you’d trust me to deal with it as I’d see fit - something that on the rare occasions I had a problem, I did and did effectively - instead of telling me what you think I’d do and offering solutions accordingly.

Or, you know, pretend you know how I’d go about it. Whatever makes you happy.

Sorry to assume anything.
The issue is a shortage of umpires, which is why we both suggested to tf to bring his gear to games.
My POV is from an administrator for referees in my local volunteer Organization for Youths playing Soccer in America. My advice assumes a local TPTB (me) to handle those issues and to train and authorize referees to handle abuse in a way that:

  1. Controls their current game.
  2. Helps to control future games these teams play.

Thankfully, my local organization has a long history of not tolerating abuse of any kind, as it is specifically noted at the first team meetings. The worst trouble we have is at our post-season All-Star tournament, when teams come from areas that do NOT handle abuse properly. Unsurprisingly, we do not have a referee retention problem.

The problem of not enough officials is probably worthy of another thread, but I’ll say it existed 30 years ago and it wasn’t because of unruly fans or coaches. What you describe is absolutely key to keeping officials; if they don’t have support from those above they’ll either bail entirely (if they’re tied to a local area and can’t / won’t go around) or avoid that area at all costs in favor of working in better situations.

Dr T - I fully understand why we have the current shortage. outflow >> inflow. young people I know and trained and worked with left after one year bc the comments from the stands bugged them. comments big (“this guy is a f-ing moron”) and a million smalls (always asking “where was that one? and no that one? and now that one?” from benches and fans).

I had their back on how to deal with it, how to try and let stuff go, not get down or question yourself, but ultimately the a-holes won out and they’d rather work in the local food service industry than take games. (bc food service people are always so well treated…) I was never told specifically who drove them away so could not address it directly with the offenders.

and my local league was for 9-12 yr olds. so that stuff chokes off the inflow at the easiest/should-be-safest level. and it flows forward from there to higher levels of play.

I have recently decided I would likely never do HS varsity baseball or legion, bc of too much a-holery. So 15u and under for me. But I would do HS varsity softball - the hugely lower level of testosterone in the whole field makes those games so much nicer from what I’ve seen.

Comparatively 0 clowns compared to baseball. Baseball games seem to generate coaches who duel each other on minute rules calls/requests or fans who complain about each of the 250 calls in a game bc they have been led to believe their boorish participation is the very fabric holding it all together. Softball just plays the game and takes the calls and moves on.

Thanks to everyone for not making me feel crazy about bringing the kit to games I attend as a watcher.

I wasn’t needed today, but one of the umpires I talked to at the end said he was worn out from doing 33 games in the last 3 weeks (baseball and softball). So we are also grinding down the existing crew little by little, so maybe someday they will need someone.

Call I helped the team understand today - umpire told 3rd base player to “show me the ball!” after a tag play on an advancing runner in a pile of dust.

Player reached over with throwing hand (was away from the ball in the glove) to show the ump a two-handed raise of the ball in the glove. That spoiled the umpire’s inquiry there, but he did check with the partner (this tourney had 2-person crew, which was nice and not expected) and then called the runner out.

I explained to the bench and player that the glove with ball securely in it should have been lifted as-is to show the umpire that control of the ball in the glove was present, and how the player’s extra hand undermined that demonstration. Now they know what the umpire was yelling for.

Good posts.
Our society has made sports officials “the enemy.” That’s got to stop, if parents want their kids to play sports.

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Re: umpiring softball - back in the day, I knew more officials who wanted to do softball than baseball. Same pay, (much) quicker games. Less grief from coaches et. al. was down on the list.

Kind of translated into calling balls and strikes: lots of guys didn’t want to do it because it was more work than standing out in the field watching. I had my pick of baseball games at times merely because guys didn’t want to do it and/or they didn’t want to go and then have to be behind the plate.

Mentoring is definitely a big advantage. Get kids in, teach them what they need to know. Don’t throw them into a game and say you’ve played the sport, you know the game, figure it out yourself. It’s a different world having to make calls.

When I was umpiring, I always kept my gear with me. Not so much in case someone was missing as I was too lazy to move it out of the trunk. I was able to pick up games along the way because of that, last second calls and I was in the area to cover a no-show (or a “oops, we forgot to get an umpire”).

The current shortage is two-fold, people exiting because of a-hole parents and coaches at all levels and the explosion in demand as so many “travel” programs develop, requiring certified umpires instead of kids with a t-shirt and a hat. I’m on the coaching side now and having been on both, it helps me keep from criticizing umpires for anything judgment based or outside of their control (like being booked to a one-man game that clearly should be two). However, I will happily go after any umpire (or more likely referee) who’s (whose?) mistakes are clearly related to laziness, just taking the money without any intention of doing a quality job.

I wanted to add something, but the topic is just so frustrating.

been trying to find a place to bring this up to @dr_t_non-fan. The Utah High School Activities Association has put boy’s soccer on probation for the next 3 years. This is the 3rd time boy’s soccer has been sanctioned since it was introduced in 1983. The penalty next year is that teams can only have 14 matches rather than the 16 they were allowed this year. I’m not sure if that sticks around for the future or if they plan to modify things in the future.

The reason is too many ejections from soccer matches this year. According to the statistics they listed boy’s soccer accounted for just over 50% of all ejections from all activities that are regulated by the Association. I would assume that includes ejections from basketball games (2 techs or straight ejection) though probably not simply fouling out.

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I’m not an umpire, but I can answer this:

No, not at all. I know people who do similar gig work, and they all keep their gear in their trunk. You don’t want to walk in with it, as if you expect to be hired, but it’s good to be prepared if stepping up is something you are happy or even willing to do.


Seems like maybe they’re not comparing apples-to-apples, because technically (pun intended) if you foul out of a basketball game you’ve been disqualified from it, just like if you receive 2 technical fouls or commit a flagrant foul.

I would also ask how many times unsportsmanlike conduct calls have been made in American football, to understand if there’s a behavior issue there that’s worse than in other sports but “meh, it’s only 15 yards, we never kicked anyone out for it.”

I tend to agree and there has been a lot of talk about 2 yellows for aggressive play as opposed to unsporting play is not the same as a direct to red for unsporting play and often shouldn’t be considered the same.

However, the real issue was the extreme level of unsportsmanlike conduct in boy’s soccer. One region did sent a letter to all boy’s soccer and boy’s and girl’s lacrosse coaches along with their administers because of perceived sportsmanship issues.

Not sure if volleyball is still using yellow/red cards but I think a lot of sports should adopt the yellow/red card method for sportsmanship issues.

I do not understand what is meant by “aggressive play.”
Also, “unsporting behavior” should be a single yellow. I understand that many State Sports Administrations change The Laws of The Game (count down the clock, turn it off at the 2-minute mark, cuz Murica!), but here is the IFAB:

Cautions for unsporting behaviour

There are different circumstances when a player must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour including if a player:

  • attempts to deceive the referee, e.g. by feigning injury or pretending to have been fouled (simulation)
  • changes places with the goalkeeper during play or without the referee’s permission (see Law 3)
  • commits in a reckless manner a direct free kick offence
  • handles the ball to interfere with or stop a promising attack
  • commits any other offence which interferes with or stops a promising attack, except where the referee awards a penalty kick for an offence which was an attempt to play the ball
  • denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by an offence which was an attempt to play the ball and the referee awards a penalty kick
  • handles the ball in an attempt to score a goal (whether or not the attempt is successful) or in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent a goal
  • makes unauthorised marks on the field of play
  • plays the ball when leaving the field of play after being given permission to leave
  • shows a lack of respect for the game
  • initiates a deliberate trick for the ball to be passed (including from a free kick or goal kick) to the goalkeeper with the head, chest, knee etc. to circumvent the Law, whether or not the goalkeeper touches the ball with the hands; the goalkeeper is cautioned if responsible for initiating the deliberate trick
  • verbally distracts an opponent during play or at a restart