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 Better Umpires = Better Baseball 4

Field umpire

Video        Takes us through three positions of the field umpire, A, B, and C.

First, a photo of Doug, HOK (Hands on Knee) set, in the A position.

Narrative:  describes where A position is, 10 feet or so behind 1B.

Video        We see Doug use P2R--Pause, Read, React. Pause to see if fielder made the play; Read where he needs to go; React to the play.

Narrative:    we see a sharp grounder hit up the  1B line--which also could be called a "trouble ball"--the 1st sacker has trouble handling the ground ball.

Explanation: because Doug is experienced, note that he retreats to foul territory to get the right angle for the call at 1B. This means he's out of the way of the the first baseman, the runner, the second baseman coming over to cover.

There was no throw so he didn't even have to make the safe call. It was obvious R1 reached the bag safely. (Your option if you want to signal on sure safe or out.)

Finally, note how Doug automatically heads for the B position. This is where he'll be with a runner at 1B. Notice how he goes automatically to HOK, signals partner AJ behind the plate on the number of outs.

Narrative: because the play is a groundball to shortstop 2/3rds of the time, almost always you'll be coming into  the infield from the A position. Five or six steps gives you the angle you need for the play at 1B.

I.                   Overview: field umpire mechanics

a.     First play in the infield belongs to Field Umpire (U2)

b.     Stance: HOK (Hands on Knee) set.

c.     Angle over distance.

d.     Let the throw take you to the play.

 e.  Make the safe/out call.

f.     Take your time on the call.

Video             base hit, one base.

On the base hit, notice how AJ keeps his eye on the ball. Meanwhile, he’s heading toward the B position for the 90 at 1B,  pivot for a possible play at 2B. Notice how he watches--swivel--R1 touch 1B.

Remember, even though the play was basically over, Brendan reaching 1B safely, the ball stays live.


 Narrative      how to make the call on the “bang bang” play. Strong voice helps you sell the call. Along with hustle, part of an on-going mechanic--voice and gestures--used throughout the game.

Video             AJ’s mechanics on the hit for extra bases. Note the emphasis on the close play  at 2B.

Tip      field umpire always starts with HOK. On the batted ball, it's P2R--Pause, Read, React.  Meanwhile, Doug, working the plate, has catch/no catch.

Note how AJ does a pivot/swivel to the infield, watches R1.
Then as R1 heads for 2nd, AJ comes to the HOK, makes the strong safe call at 2B.

Remember, angle over distance. Move in if you can.

 Video             Fly ball to right field. Because it’s a short fly ball hit directly to the fielder, Doug just has to turn, make the call. 

Plate umpire, U1, watches the runner.

Video                   Brendan tries to steal second. We note that AJ, like Rule 9 says, has eyes “everlastingly on the ball.” He knows R1 is trying to advance yet keeps eyes on the ball.


fyi      AJ is walking behind the mound. Called the "safe area" or "work area." This is where U2 works in and out of for infield coverage with runner(s) on. Ideally, you're just two or three steps away from the call.

Video             Brendan steals second. Again, watch as AJ keeps his eye on the ball. He only starts to turn when the ball goes past him.

(Pre-pitch, you're the hall monitor. Most action will be watching pickoff attempts.)

Video             Brendan made an illegal pitch as his non-pivot foot went behind the rubber. Chris makes an illegal pitch because he didn't pause long enough. Again, these are judgment calls.

Usually, the balk will be when the pitcher “fails to make a complete stop. (OBR, 8.01B).

Video             See U2 making the call at 3B. Take your time on the call. We then see a runner coming into 3B with no throw.


Plays inside the V.

U2 covers balls hit between shortstop and 2nd baseman.

U1 has plays outside the V.

Covers catch/no catch, fair/foul.

Remember   Angle over distance.

Finally, plate umpire calls strike on pitches on the rail. Refer to Part II of “The Complete Guide for Successful Umpiring.” Field umpire gets the angle. Refer to Part III.

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