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How to call ball-strike  

fyi   Remember, your view behind the plate is three-dimensional. The TV screen's image is only 2-D. So, too, are the coaches and fans' view of the pitch.

Keep this in mind when you call the pitch on a rail a strike. Locked in, feet as tripod, eyes as camera, you have your best view.


Brendan (pitching for York College) deals

Diamond magic--calling strikes

The confident
strike call on a close pitch is the key to diamond mastery. Call the strike for a pitch on the rails (¼ inch black strip around home plate). Again, don't do too far outside yet call the high pitch a strike. You are now in line with how Major League umpires are making the call on the high pitch.

We see batter Jake (see photo below) is ready to launch on Brendan's pitch.

From the OBR's Rule 2.00 Definition of Terms

The Strike Zone is that area over home plate the upper limit that is horizontal at the midpoint between the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the knee cap. The Strike Zone call shall be determined from the batter's stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.

Basic strike call

  • Not too high.
  • A little wide.
  • Call strike on borderline pitch.
  • Call the strike just below the letters.
  • Call the strike just below the knees.

fyi If you think it's a strike, it probably is. 

Brendan deals; slugger ready to launch.
Brendan, pitching for the Royals, deals; slugger ready to launch.

 Plate Umpire How-to

  • Head as camera. Don't move. See Erin below.
  • Start with signals—arm, hand motion.
  • Use feet and toes as tripod for stance.
looking at Erin above, her stance is the slot; head is in position. Camera locked in, she records the ball through the pitching corridor
Erin's slot stance. Camera steady, legs are tripod.

Rules to build your zone:

Rule #1:start from the ground up.

Rule #2: the younger the player, the wider the zone.

Rule #3: Like National League umpire Harry Wendelstedt, Jr. says, “Err to the strike.”



Make sure you run through the signals with the indicator ahead of time.

  • Practice saying "Strike one. Strike two. Ball one. Ball Two," etc.
  • Move the indicator. 
  • Then, for various counts: 1-1; 2-2, etc., practice.
  • When you have 3-2, you announce, "Count is full." 
  • Next pitch will either be a walk or K or a hit. 
  • The hit will either be a foul ball or a ball in play.
  • The ball in play will either be safe or out.

Umpire call volume?
Practice saying “Ball” so the dugout can hear. If a “strike," say it so the fans can hear if the batter doesn't swing. Strike two is louder than Strike one.

Keep in mind

  • Because most youth ball diamonds don't have scoreboards, the plate umpire should say and display the count after the 3rd pitch.
  • On the steal, don't forget to call the pitch "ball" or "strike" then move the indicator. Many times the 3B base coach will ask, "What was that Blue?" Make sure you know the answer.
  • If you're not 100% sure--especially with runners on and there's a dead ball--signal your partner.
  • Make sure you go over signals with your partner before the game. 
  • Any questions, talk to your partner between innings.

It’s nothing until you call it.

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15% of proceeds from the book go to the Boys and Girls Club and the MLB Community's RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner City) program.

Content copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
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