Base Umpiring Advanced Techniques
Besides out and safe calls, what are my other responsibilities?
Short answer: There are several, all having to do with rules pertaining to runners and fielders. When you have multiple runners to track, prioritize your attention on the lead runner. You might also call foul / fair balls and catch / no-catch on fly balls too.
Decide with your umpire crew how to handle foul balls and fly ball outs
- Prior to the game, the umpire crew should meet to agree on each umpire's responsibilities. I recommend that the Plate Umpire calls all foul / fair balls and catch / no-catch both inside (the infield) and outside (the outfield) of the bases. This allows beginning umpires to focus their game on the base runner actions and calls.
- In another common scenario, your crew might decide that you (and other base umpires) call foul / fair balls on fly balls hit into the outfield.
Watch for these rule violations by runners and fielders at your assigned bases and base paths
- Spotting and enforcing rule violations by runners and fielders is an acquired skill that you'll develop as you become more comfortable with field positioning and making out / safe calls. Don't get too distracted about these as you begin to learn umpiring. Experienced umpires working with you will typically keep an eye out for rule violations across the full diamond to help back you up.
|Runners leaving early||Did any runners leave their base early (prior to the ball reaching the batter)?||
- Baseball: If so, drop a red flag to signal the violation and let the play proceed. After the play has completed, call "Time". During time meet with your umpire crew to make a ruling on which bases to place the runner(s).
- Softball: If so, call the runner out and "Time" to halt play.
- See the section on baseball and softball differences for more.
|Runner base touches||Did the runner(s) touch the base(s)?||
- If not, don't say anything and let play proceed. Untouched bases are rule violations that the defense must appeal.
Did the runner(s) tag-up on a fly ball catch?
|- If not, don't say anything. This is also an appeal call like untouched bases.|
|Fielders standing in the base paths||
Did a fielder (without the ball) obstruct a runner's advance to a base?
Did a runner interfere with a fielder's ability to field a batted ball?
- If so, you might have an obstruction or interference violation. These are tricky rules to learn so just be concerned at first with the most blatant examples.
- For example, a fielder without the ball standing in the way of a runner's attempt to touch a base is obstruction on the fielder. A runner that runs into a fielder attempting to field a ground ball is interference on the runner.
- After play stops, if you think one of these rule violations occurred, call "Time" and talk with your umpire crew to decide on the ruling.
TIP: When you have multiple runners to track, you'll be doing a lot of back and forth head turning and body swiveling to keep track of all these runner activities. You might not be able to see everything, so prioritize your attention on the lead runner.
Practice your calls from this section using these video examples