MSOA Umpires Procedures
Information and Suggested Guidelines
The following information and suggestedguidelines are intended to assist all officials in the performance of their duties as high school baseball umpires. You are to remember at all times that you are an independent contractor and not an employee, agent, servant, or local representative of the MSOA of any academic institution.
It is strongly suggested that each official carry the following items to each contest: all contact telephone numbers for umpires and coaches, a game printout from the Arbiter, a current NFHS Baseball Rules/Case Book, the current NFHS Umpires Manual, a copy of your pre-game checklist, and a copy of this MSOA Manual.
Every umpire should be prepared to work either the bases or the plate in every contest to which he/she is assigned. Bring plate and base gear to all game assignments.
Pre-Game Crew Communication
Communication is vital
Umpires needs to put and maintain up-to-date information about their personal as well as availability in the calendar on the Arbiterwebsite. Once the season starts, check the website daily for any changes. Do not delay in accepting game assignments or they will be reassigned. If your availability is entered correctly and updated appropriately, you should not need to decline an assignment, unless there is an emergency.
The plate umpire is responsible for contacting the base umpire(s) at least three days before each contest to confirm his or her partners’ availability, the meeting location, uniforms, etc. Contacting by either telephone, email or the Arbiter NOTES section is permitted, but the contact is complete only when a response is received. Please give your partner the courtesy of a response. The base umpire(s) should contact the plate umpire two days before the game, if the plate umpire fails to initiate contact. If it is the day before the game and you are still unable to reach your partner, contact the MSOA Booking Commissioner for further instruction.
Before the Game
Arrive at the game site dressed professionally, but not in uniform. How you arrive to each game is a reflection on yourself, your overall performance, your partners, and all other MSOA umpires. No cut-offs, t-shirts, or sandals. Do not wear anything that might identify you with a particular school or team at any level. Do not wear anything that has a high school, college, or professional team logo.
Upon arrival at the game site, each official should check in with the school administrator/Head Coach and be directed to the dressing room. It is best if all of the officials check in together. Set up a meeting place in the parking lot and arrive on time. If the home team desires that the baseballs be rubbed, the plate umpire is responsible for doing so. Every umpire should carry rubbing mud. If there is no dressing facility available, you may have to improvise and use your vehicle. Report unacceptable dressing facilities to the MSOA Booking Commissioner. Do not complain to the school administrator or the coaches about unacceptable dressing facilities.
All umpires should arrive at least 30 minutes (JV/Middle) and 45 minutes (Varsity) before the scheduled starting time. If a partner is late, use your contact numbers to reach him. If you are running late, call your partner(s) and the home team’s coach, (if possible) and let them know your expected arrival time, DO NOT make a habit of this.
If one umpire does not show for a game assigned to a three-man crew, begin the game as a two-man crew. For two-man crews, if it is 30-minutes before a scheduled start and your partner has not arrived or contacted you, contact the MSOA Booking Commissioner. Then notify the coaches for both teams, who may agree to 1) use one umpire, 2) delay the start of the game a reasonable time to wait for a replacement to arrive (provided the MSOA Booking Commissioner has advised that a replacement has been secured), or 3) postpone the game. A game may only be officiated by one umpire if BOTH head coaches agree.
Generally, the MSOA Booking Commissioner will inform you of game cancellations. School contact information can be found on the Arbiter. If the game is not cancelled by the time you must leave, go to the game site. Remember, the head coach of the home team is responsible for the actual starting time of the game and he will determine IF his field is playable.
Crew Pre-Game Conference
The plate umpire should conduct a pre-game meeting with the crew in the dressing area. There is a suggested Pregame Checklist that has been provide to you by MSOA.
The plate umpire conducts the plate meeting at 5 minutes until game time. Base umpires should generally NOT speak, except to greet the coaches and captains, if present, or unless they are spoken to. Address the team’s coaches as “Coach” or by their first name IF you know BOTH.
The plate umpire should address the sportsmanship issue to both coaches and Captains as directed by the FHSAA, dismiss your Captains, then check the home team’s line-up card, followed by the visitors’ line-up card. Fix line up problems at this time. Let the home coach give the ground rules. Ask questions if you need clarification. Do not contradict the ground rules, unless they violate a book rule or the other coach does not agree. Where the coaches do not agree about a ground rule, the plate umpire must decide what ground rule to use.
Do not tell jokes at the plate meeting. Off-color or bad humor always leaves a wrong impression and sometimes comes across as an insult.
The crew stands together at home plate, facing the flag (or center field if there is no flag). The plate umpire stands behind the point of the plate. Base umpires stand on the side of the plate umpire that faces their initial base position. Do not converse during the national anthem. Stay still until the LAST note has been completed!!
During the Game
The plate umpire should look at pitches from every new pitcher. Count the warm-ups. Count eight for a new pitcher and five for a pitcher who has previously appeared in the game. If it is cold or the prior inning goes long, a pitcher may throw outside the playing area during his team’s offensive time. Be flexible in cold weather. Record all substitutions on your line-up card. Record offensive and defensive conferences, warnings, delays, ejections, or anything else that may need to be reported after the game. Between innings, the plate umpire goes to the base lines. Generally, stand on the base line of the defensive team. This way you are looking at the team coming to bat. Do not say anything to anyone who has already passed you; that is, do not turn around to confront a player who murmured something under his breath while passing you. You will appear to be the aggressor. If the player’s comments were loud enough to be heard by the fans and warrant an ejection, simply advise his coach (and the opposing coach) that he has been ejected.
Base umpires need to stay away from the pitcher’s mound at all times. Leave the infield by standing in the outfield during defensive conferences, pitching changes, and between innings.
Do not enter the dugouts. Ask a coach/manger to bring you water, if necessary.
Discussions with Coaches During the Game
Umpires will handle their own discussions. Remain approachableand use positive body language that shows concern for their issues. Other umpires need to stay within hearing distance. Keep all conversations one on one. Escort others from the discussion area. Ask the coach to speak in a professional and respectful tone. Do the same. Answer legitimate questions. The discussion should be terminated when the conversation becomes repetitious. Inform the coach and return to the game and your position. Be professional and keep your voice low. The louder the coach gets, the softer your voice should become. Keep your hands to your sides or behind your back. Let the crowd think that only the coach was out of control.
Coaches or players, by rule, may not argue these items:
Balls and Strikes. Warn the offender and give an official warning to the entire team through the head coach. This is for the duration of the game. Further offenders must be ejected after a warning is issued.
Checked swings. These are balls and strikes. Do not allow anyone to approach you about a checked swing. Stop them from approaching and issue a warning. If they continue, eject them.
Balks. Give a brief description of the balk to the bench. DO NOT conduct a clinic. Try to keep the coach in the dugout. If necessary, give an on-field explanation, but be brief. Keep the game moving.
Other warnings include bean balls or purpose pitches and bench jockeying. If you believe a pitcher is throwing at a hitter, either warn him or eject him, depending on the situation and the severity. If you issue a warning over a purpose pitch, warn the pitcher first, then his coach, then the opposing coach. Remind them that the pitcher and his coach will be ejected, if you deem another pitch to have been purposefully thrown at a batter.
Stop bench jockeying and bush league comments the moment it begins. Do not lose control of the game. Warn once the first time; eject the offender and his coach at the second instance of bench jockeying. Cheering is not bench jockeying. Bench jockeying is the intentional act of distracting an opponent through language directed to that opponent by multiple individuals in a concerted, often rehearsed, manner. Likewise, arguing or criticizing the umpiring by anyone from the dugout is a form of bench jockeying that must not be tolerated. Do not allow players or coaches to criticize you from the dugout, even if you realize that you blew the call.
After an ejection, keep your mouth shut and get away from the action. Your partner should step in and control the situation. When stepping in, use your body as a shield between the ejected individual and the ejecting umpire, keep your hands down, and move the ejected person away from the field.
The plate umpire should record the ejection on the line-up card. Once the ejected individual has left the playing facility (out of sight and sound for Coach, Bench for player), the ejecting or plate umpire must advise the head coaches (or acting head coach) of each team as to who was ejected and a brief reason for the ejection.
The ejecting umpire will contact the MSOA Booking Commissioner immediately following the game. The ejecting umpire will send via email a completed unsportsmanlike conduct report to the MSOA Booking Commissioner ASAP and then once it is looked over you will send it to the FHSAA within 24-hours of the conclusion of the game. The forms can be found on the Arbiter as a link to your game report. In the report, describe the incident in detail, using the actual words said, but offer no opinions. Make sure the report specifies that both head coaches were advised of the ejection. These reports are legal documents and may be used in a court of law, so be professional and precise. Keep a copy of the report for your records.
Try to stop the initial charge. Never grab anyone from behind. If the fight continues, back up and get help from game management. Fights, acts of gross unsportsmanlike conduct, or games that do not reach their natural conclusion, require an immediate verbal report to the MSOA Booking Commissioner and a verbal report to the FHSAA at (352) 372-9551 by 10:00 a.m. the following morning. They also require a written unsportsmanlike conduct report. Games shortened or postponed by inclement weather do not require a report.
Rain, Lightning or Darkness
The plate umpire is responsible for stopping the game and having the lights turned on. Try and have the lights turned on in the TOP of an inning. He may discuss these matters with the base umpires. Do not TELL the team to “go to the dugout” or “put the tarps on”… this is the Home Teams responsibility. Never ignore the concerns of game management. If a school administrator requests a delay or postponement, honor the request. Always err on the side of safety. Florida leads the world in lightning deaths.
The FHSAA does not honor protests. Because there are no protests, it is especially important that your on-field rulings are correct. Errors in judgment are part of the game and can be expected. An error regarding the rules is preventable and is, as a result, unforgivable. It is better to delay the game to consult the rulebook than it is to give a team an unfair advantage as a result of your error regarding a rule. If any question arises on a rule that you and your partner(s) are less than 100% certain of, consult a rulebook.
Rules study on a regular basis is crucial to proper officiating. Join study and/or discussion groups.
If anything happens during the game that is unusual, the plate umpire must report it to the MSOA Booking Commissioner ASAP.
Leaving the Field
Umpires will leave the field swiftly (not running) and together. Game management will provide proper security. Hand the extra baseballs to a home team personnel or place in dugout. Do not roll them to the dugout or give them to fans. Between the games of a double-header, before leaving the field after the first game, the plate umpire after consulting with the HOME team coach will announce to the opposing head coaches the starting time of the second game. Be considerate of the wishes of each coach in starting the second game of a double-header. (JV/Var)
After the game, all umpires should return to the dressing area as a crew. Unless someone has a pressing engagement, all officials should leave the dressing area together. In order for the crew to leave together, the base umpires may have to wait for the plate umpire to remove his gear.
Use the opportunity to discuss situations that arose during the game. If any unsportsmanlike conduct report must be written, confirm who will write it and who will contact the MSOA Booking Commissioner and FHSAA. (By FHSAA rule, the umpire who actually issued the ejection is responsible for the filing of a timely report). Discuss the content of the ejection report and even make notes. In some circumstances, the FHSAA or MSOA will want either a verbal or written report from the ejecting umpire’s partner(s). This is the time to make sure you are all on the same page.
Remove all clothing that identifies you as an FHSAA official before leaving the dressing area. The FHSAA patch or logo may not be worn once you leave school property or at any time other than while officiating an FHSAA contest.
Refer questions from the press to the MSOA Booking Commissioner. Do not speak to the press under any condition or circumstance.
Tobacco and Alcohol Use
There will be NO use of alcohol or tobacco on any school’s property. Do not consume alcohol less than eight (8) hours prior to a scheduled game. Do not accept a game assignment as a replacement if you have been drinking within eight (8) hours prior to the scheduled start.
It is recommended that every official maintain an off-season and in-season conditioning program. Seek the advice of a physician before starting any fitness program.
Enjoy yourself out on the field and have a great season!