Umpire facts:

We are constantly told at umpire seminars that we have to do our utmost to keep games moving. Hurry teams off and on the diamond between innings has been a staple instruction for years. There is one minute allocated for teams to change over. At state and national tournaments the first base umpire is instructed to take a stop watch onto the field and at 50 seconds walk from his normal between innings position (which is shallow right field) to his position adjacent to the first base foul line to indicate that time is up. The plate guy keys off this and calls two more so that the changeover is keep prompt. If the catcher is late and no team mate fills in to warm up the pitcher the pitcher may get no warm up throws. Warming up the pitcher is a responsibility of the coaching staff. If the catcher was the third out and consequently taking some time to gear up the coaches should appoint another player to put on the mask and warm the pitcher up without delay. It is not a responsibility of the umpire although most umpires will allow at least one and usually two warm up pitches.

This year the emphasis has been on the hitter keeping one foot in the box during his at bat. Batters who wander off between pitches for no good reason are in jeopardy of having a strike called despite no pitch being delivered. Umpires will normally warn the hitter before invoking this option.

A commentator named Roy Atkinson once said, “I never comment on umpires and I’m not going to break the habit of a lifetime for that nitwit.”

At the State Tournaments this year catchers were compelled to wear a hockey style mask/helmet combination and with a dangling throat protector. I suspect that the separate mask and skull cap option of the past is about to be closed down for juniors. Club gear stewards would be well advised to avoid purchasing skull cap and mask combinations for future seasons.