Basics of Baseball Three Umpire Mechanics
Crew Chief PreGame Guide
Introduction You have been assigned "crew chief" for the big game and now you have to bring your crew together and get them on the same page to umpire.

This PreGame guide should be used to cover topics with your crew and get them ready for the game. Each item should be briefly reviewed with no long conversations about any one topic.

Pregame time should be used as a review of the mechanics and what the crew will do. You don't have time to conduct a training session on three-umpire mechanics. If any umpire does not have experience with three-umpire mechanics or has not read and done the study guide on this site the game is in danger of not being umpired correctly.

Day or Two Before A day or two before the "big" game contact your crew and:
  • Confirm date, time and location of contest.
  • Assign positions, if not already done so by the assigner.
  • Uniform.
  • Make travel arrangements and/or meeting place and time.

Upon Arrival Upon arrival at the park check in with the site administrator or the home coach. Confirm start time and ask about any pregame protocols that may occur.

Now proceed to your lockerroom or vehicle and cover the following items with your crew.

Remember it is not what you want them to do, but what the crew will do.

Discussion Topics Review any points of emphasis for the current baseball season:
  • Pace of play
  • Personnel in dugout
  • Bench jockeying

Home Plate
Pregame Conference
Review the following items of what the crew will do at the pregame meeting at home plate with the coaches:
  • If rules require checking of equipment the base umpires will go together to each dugout and check equipment. Plate umpire will be near home plate during this process.
  • Positioning at home plate during meeting with coaches.
  • Plate umpire does all the talking unless otherwise directed.
  • Ground rules by home coach.
  • National Anthem position.
  • Base umpires run to positions.

Check Swings Review check swing responsibilities and mechanics:
  • Plate umpire go to "open side", even if the base umpire is inside the diamond, and use left hand when asking:
    • Left hand batter - go to 3rd base umpire
    • Right hand batter go to 1st base umpire
  • Base umpire give him what you got. Remember it is going to be your argument now.
  • 2 strikes on batter with a check swing and the pitch is called a "ball" and catcher drops or missed the pitch - plate umpire check IMMEDIATELY!

Asking for Help Review how the crew will handle:
  • Asking for help on swipe tags and pulled foots.
  • Asking for help on a rule situation.
  • Asking for help on other situations which are not pure judgement calls.

If at all possible get the play right. If it is a rule and the coach protests pull a rule book out and get it right on the field.

Fair / Foul Responsibilities Review fair / foul coverages:
  • Who has what until what point. Common coverage is:
    • Plate umpire has ball to the bag.
    • Base umpire has bag and beyond.
    • Be ready to help if covering umpire gets blocked out.
  • Coverage for "pole benders" down the line. Get either four or six sets of eyes on a fly ball down the line threatening the pole.
  • Coverage down the lines on a fair ball.
    • Will the wing umpire need to "chase" the ball or not depending the outfield corners being clean or not.

Starting Positions For Each Situation Review starting positions of base umpires for each situation:
  • When are both base umpires on the wing.
  • When is the 3rd base umpire inside and either B or C position.
  • When is the 1st base umpire inside.

Balls That Stay in the infield Coverage Review coverage and movement of umpires when ball stays in the infield.
  • When both umpires are on the wing.
  • When 3rd base umpire is inside.
  • When 1st base umpire is inside.

Review coverage on line drives to the fielders feet:

  • Plate umpire has the pitcher and any plays in the "box".
  • Base umpires:
    • If fielder is moving towards you, you are responsible for the call.
    • If fielder is moving away from you, you DO NOT have the call

Outfield Fly Ball Coverage Review fly ball coverage for the outfield.

Bases Empty or runner on 3rd base only - 50/50 Coverage for the base umpires.:

  • Fly ball in base umpire's coverage area he WILL go out. Crew reverts to 2-umpire system.
  • 1st Base umpire is the quarterback on fly balls hit to centerfieild.
  • Who is covering batter-runner to 1st base if 1st base umpire goes out to cover fly ball.
  • Who is covering 3rd base with runner on 3rd only and 3rd base umpire goes out to cover fly ball.
  • Plate umpire you have no fly ball responsibility in these situations, however:
    • Be a back-up to the base umpire covering the play or
    • Tag-up responsibility when there is a runner at 3rd only.

Runners on base - 10/50/40 Coverage:

  • Plate umpire has empty line - 10% coverage.
  • Inside umpire has 50% coverage of empty line to a center fieldeand will stay inside the diamond covering catch/no catch.
  • Wing umpire has 40% coverage of field moving to his line and will go out to cover catch/no catch.

Review other fly ball items:

  • Tag-up responsibilities.
    • If appealed responsible umpire step up and make call.
  • Pause, read and reacting to a fly ball.
    • Make sure it is a fly ball that a fielder has potential of catching or threatening the fence.
    • If you take more than one step towards the outfield you have gone out. Keep going!
    • Gappers that, for sure, will not be caught no reason to go out on.
  • When you go out to cover a fly ball COMMUNICATE that you are going out to your partners.
  • If fly ball is NOT hit in your area of coverage, pick up your partner's status and react accordingly covering bases and/or tag-ups accordingly.
  • If you go out - STAY OUT - but be ready to help with wierd situations such as bases awards on balls going out of play and possible run-downs.
  • When an umpire goes out you are now using two-umpire mechanics.

Batted Balls to the Outfield Review coverage and movement of umpires when a batted ball leaves the infield:
  • When to rotate.
  • When to reverse-rotate (slide).
  • When to stay put.

Foul Fly Ball Territory Coverage Review coverage of fly balls in foul territory:
  • Whose call it is when between the wing umpire and plate umpire.
  • Foul Fly balls down the line.
  • Umpire not covering situation be alert on the bases for tag-ups and throw backs.

and Signals
Review when the crew will communicate:
  • Before each new batter.
  • Before a change of situation with the same batter.
  • During a play and how.

Review the following non-verbal communication signals:

  • Infield fly
  • Rotation
  • Reverse rotation (slide)
  • Staying put
  • Umpire going out
  • Appeal process
  • Potential time play and if one occurs
  • Trap/Catch by catcher on third strike
  • Outs and count
  • Eye contact

Arguments Review how the crew will handle:
  • Arguing balls and strikes, including check swings.
  • Bench jockeying

When an argument occurs review:

  • Keeping it one-on-one.
  • Snipers from the dugout.
  • When to step in and when to leave them alone.
  • After an ejection the umpire should turn and walk away.

Don't chase after a player or coach. If they are walking away, walk the other way. Unless they say something the entire park could hear - leave it alone. Put yourself in the best of light and come out smelling like a rose. Keep your cool while they are losing theirs. If you need to eject make sure you can defend it so your assigner can defend you.

Fights Pay attention to problems that may be arising. Should a fight occur:
  • Try to stop players before the fight starts.
  • Umpires not on scene, turn to dugouts and stop them.
  • If you can't stop them, step back and take numbers of participants.

Closing Get ready:
  • Rule or mechanic questions.
  • Hustle at all times
  • Communicate
  • Good eye contact
  • Good timing
  • Get plays right
  • Have fun and enjoy what you are doing.

Stay focused throughout the game. During long at-bats mentally remind yourself what you are going to do every third pitch to the same batter.

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