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BASICS OF NEEDHAM UMPIRING

Introduction
 
Needham Little League uses umpires for its Single A, Double A, Triple A, and Majors Divisions in the spring season as well as for multiple Summer League and Fall League travel teams. Any person who resides or works in Needham and who is age 13 or over can be an umpire for Needham Little League.
 
Umpires who are age 13-14 are typically assigned to specified player-pitch Single A games and to Double A games; umpires who are age 15-16 are typically assigned to Triple A games; umpires who are 17 and older are typically assigned to Majors games. The system is flexible, however, so there are opportunities for younger umpires to work games at higher levels, and older umpires to work games at lower levels, depending upon experience, ability, and the needs of the League.   
 
The spring season will begin in late April and will run, with playoffs, through mid-June. The summer travel league season will begin in mid-June and will run, with playoffs, through the end of July or the first week in August. The fall travel league season will begin in early September and will run, with playoffs, into mid-October. Games are played on weeknights and weekends. In connection with the summer and fall travel leagues, umpires are needed only for those games played in Needham. Each game will be staffed by two umpires – one behind home plate and one in the field. All equipment – chest protectors, shin guards, face masks, clickers, and brushes – is provided by the League and is contained in the green metal bins at the fields. Each umpire will be provided with a handbook containing the Little League rules.
 
If you need further information, or have questions, please contact the Needham Little League Director of Umpires
 
Please note that the Babe Ruth Prep, Babe Ruth, Senior, and 16-18 Divisions also use umpires for their games. The Directors of those Divisions are responsible for the umpires and you should contact those Directors if you have questions concerning umpires for those games.
 
 
Umpire Training and Registration
 
Needham Baseball is recruiting umpires for the Spring, Summer and Fall Seasons
 
Anyone who is age 13 or over, and who attends the Umpire Registration and Training clinics, is eligible to be a Little League umpire.  The clinics will be held at the PollardMiddle School lecture hall (see Events Calendar).  Questions may be directed to Director of Umpires.
 
Umpire Payments
  
All umpires will be paid by the League per game as follows:
 
Single A – home plate ($20); bases ($15).
 
Double AA – home plate ($20); bases ($15).
 
Triple AAA – home plate ($25); bases ($20).
 
Majors – home plate ($30); bases ($25).
 
In order to get paid, each umpire must send an email to the Director as soon as possible after the game confirming that he worked his assigned game and providing the following information:
 
name;
date and time of game;
level (A, AA, AAA, or Majors);
name of field; and
home plate or bases.
 
It is important that an umpire provide this information as soon as possible after a game or he might not get paid. Checks will be mailed to the umpires’ home addresses approximately every two weeks during the season.
 
Umpire Scheduling/Field Managers
 
There are eleven (11) baseball fields that will be used for games as follows:
 
        Single A – Lower Broadmeadow and Dwight.
 
        Double A – Eliot, High Rock, Greene’s, and Newman 2.
 
        Triple A – Cusick, Newman 1, and Upper Broadmeadow.
 
        Majors – Mills, Small, and Upper Broadmeadow.
 
There will be a Field Manager assigned to cover each field. It will be the Field Manager’s responsibility to contact umpires and to schedule two umpires (plate and bases) for every game at that field. The Team Leaders will have all of the contact information for all of the umpires and will be paid a weekly stipend for this responsibility.
 
Games will be played every night during the week as well as during the day on Saturdays and Sundays starting in late April. The Field Manager will call or email an umpire, who needs to have his schedule available and to make sure he will be available for the 2+ hours that the game will take (counting travel time). The umpire MUST BE SURE that he does not have some other conflict (like playing baseball or another sport, family commitments, travel plans, etc.). The umpire needs to be sure that he will not be missing any homework or other necessary school work (book reports, projects, etc.). School work takes priority over umpiring!!
 
Umpires can and should be proactive about getting games and should not wait for their phone to ring. Umpires are provided with the contact information for the Field Managers and are free to call or email the Field Managers to provide them with their availability for upcoming games. Umpires who believe that they are not getting enough games to work can email the Director of Umpires.
 
Once an umpire agrees to take a game, he must follow through on the commitment. This is very important – if an umpire agrees to a game, he must do it. It is not fair to the Field Manager, the umpiring partner for that game, and the coaches and players for an umpire not to show up. If something unexpected comes up, or the umpire forgot about a prior commitment, and cannot make the game, the umpire must call (no emails) the Director of Umpires and the appropriate Field Manager as soon as possible. There are many umpires listed in the database who are looking to work games. The Director or Field Manager may be able to get somebody else to cover the game but the umpire must make the phone call to notify the Director and Field Manager that he will be unavailable as soon as he learns about the conflict.
 
DO NOT LEAVE A GAME UNCOVERED
 
Rain-outs, Make-up Games, and Weather Conditions
 
During the week, the Needham Park and Recreation Department makes decisions, usually at about 2:30 -- 3:00 p.m., about which fields are closed and cannot be used due to rain or other weather conditions.
 
 Park and Rec’s Field Status page on the Needham Little League’s located here.
 
Also, an umpire can call the Field Status hotline (after 3:00 p.m.) – (781) 444-7212 – to determine whether a particular field has been closed.
 
If Park and Rec has closed the field, then there is no game and an umpire should not go to the field.
 
If Park and Rec has not closed the field, then an umpire should go to the field unless he gets a telephone call from the    Field Manager or Director of Umpires telling him that the game has been postponed. Umpires must use their common sense – if it is pouring rain but the field has not been officially closed, the umpire should check with the Field Manager or Director of Umpires before going to the field.
 
The above only works during the week. Park and Rec does not make field status decisions on weekends. If it is pouring rain on the weekend, the umpire should check with the Field Manager or Director before going to the field. If it is drizzling or raining only slightly, the umpire should go to the field.
 
If it starts raining as or after the umpire arrives at the field, he should discuss the situation with both managers and should use common sense. If the rain results in unsafe playing conditions, the umpire should call the game. It will be rescheduled. The umpires will be paid something for that game. The umpire is not committed to working the make-up game. The Field Manager will be responsible for obtaining two new umpires for the make-up game once the date, time, and field are known.
 
The same applies if it starts raining during the game. The umpire should assess the situation, talk to both managers, and use common sense. If the rain persists and playing conditions become unsafe, then the umpire should call the game. It may be resumed on a different date (depending on the inning). The umpires will be paid for that game.
 
 If it starts getting dark during the game, the umpire should assess the situation, talk to both managers, and use his common sense. The game should be suspended if it is too dark for the game to be played safely.
 
In connection with weeknight games, no inning is to start after 8:00 p.m.
 
If the game is on the weekend, and another game is scheduled to follow, then the game cannot last more than 2 ½ hours. Do not start an inning if it will push the game beyond 2 ½ hours if there is another game scheduled to follow the game being played.
 
If a game is postponed or stopped due to weather, the League Directors will schedule a make-up game. This schedule will be posted on the website and will be available to the Field Managers and the Director of Umpires. Umpires should check the website and call the Field Managers. The Field Managers will be calling umpires to cover the make-up games that have been scheduled for their fields. The umpires for the make-up games need not be the same umpires who were scheduled for the original games.
 
Needham Little League Thunder/Lightning Policy
 
If an umpire sees LIGHTNING or hears THUNDER immediately before or during a game, the umpires shall immediately suspend
the game for thirty (30) minutes. If a manager or coach sees LIGHTNING or hears THUNDER immediately before or during a game, and an umpire did not, the managers of both teams must confer with each other and with the umpires to discuss the matter. If there is agreement that LIGHTNING was seen or THUNDER was heard, then the umpires shall immediately suspend the game for thirty (30) minutes. If there is disagreement between the managers as to what was seen or heard, then the umpires will make the final decision, in their sole discretion, whether to suspend the game.
 
In the event that the game is suspended, both teams and the umpires will proceed to a safe structure or location for thirty (30) minutes. A safe structure or location includes any building normally occupied or frequently used by people (i.e., a building with plumbing and/or electrical wiring) OR any vehicle with a hard metal roof (not a convertible). A safe structure or location does NOT include: small covered shelters, such as the dugouts at Mills Field, the Carleton Pavilion at DeFazio Park, or covered overhangs at schools; any area connected to, or near, light poles, towers, and fences; or any location that makes the person the highest point in the area.
 
It is the responsibility of the managers and the coaches to ensure that all players on their team, and the umpires, are provided shelter in a vehicle with a hard metal roof if no other safe structure or location is available. In the event that there are thunderstorm watches or warnings in the weather forecast before the game, then it is the responsibility of the managers and the coaches to ensure that a sufficient number of parent vehicles remain at the game to provide adequate shelter for all players and the umpires.
 
If an umpire sees LIGHTNING or hears THUNDER during the thirty (30)-minute waiting period, OR if the umpire determines that rain has made the playing field unsafe, then the umpires shall call the game. If a manager or coach sees LIGHTNING or hears THUNDER during the thirty (30)-minute waiting period, and an umpire did not, the managers of both teams must confer with each other and with the umpires to discuss the matter. If there is agreement that LIGHTNING was seen or THUNDER was heard, then the umpires shall call the game. If there is disagreement between the managers as to what was seen or heard, then the umpires will make the final decision, in their sole discretion, whether to call the game. 
 
After 30 minutes, if no THUNDER and LIGHTNING is seen or heard and the field, in the sole discretion of the umpire, is playable, the game will resume from the point it was suspended.
 
In the event that a game is called before it has become a regulation game -- 4 innings for a Little League game -- the game will be completed at a later date from the point at which it was called.
 
Pre-Game Matters
 
Umpires should arrive at the field at least 15 minutes before the start of the game. At the beginning of the season, the weeknight games start at 5:30 p.m. During the season, the start time is changed to 6:00 p.m. Umpires must make sure they know when their game is starting.
 
The umpire equipment will be inside the green equipment bin at the field. The managers for the teams will have the combinations to the locks and will open the bins. Each bin will contain: two shin guards; one chest protector; one mask; at least two clickers; and one brush.
 
Umpires must make sure that all of the equipment is there. Contact the Director of Umpires as soon as possible if any umpire equipment is missing from the green bin or if there are problems with the equipment.
 
Umpires should wear blue or navy-colored clothes (t-shirt, sweatshirt, windbreaker, etc.), should wear long pants, and should wear the shin guards over the pants. Plate umpires must wear a cup.
 
Umpires should make sure that the bases are on the field and that they are the correct distance from home plate and each other (60 feet).
 
Umpires should introduce themselves to both managers and should get three (3) game balls from the home team. The home team should be sitting on the first base side.
 
Umpires should make sure that both teams have had a chance to practice on the infield.
Umpires should talk to both managers at home plate about any ground rules or issues with that field as well as any other rules or issues. Umpires must know what is out of play on that field.
 
Calling The Game
 
The umpires are in charge of the game. They are the boss.
 
Be decisive. Use a consistent technique. Always hustle to be in position.
 
Always try to make the right call. Know the rules. Carry your rule book with you to the games. Do not be afraid to consult it occasionally but don’t overdo it.
 
Umpires should call or email the Director of Umpires if they need a rule book.
 
If an umpire needs to confer with his partner about a call or a rule, he should do so away from the players and the coaches. Do not let them eavesdrop on private conversations about calls. When umpires do consult with each other, they should make sure that they both decide: (1) what call is going to make; (2) which umpire is going to make the call; and (3) the reason why that umpire is making the call (sometimes an umpire who is closer to the play did not see something that his partner saw).
 
These games are serious business for the players (and the coaches) – treat them seriously and with respect. Do not joke around on the field. Do not text or take calls on your cell phone unless absolutely necessary.
 
Be firm but courteous. Address managers and coaches as “Coach Smith” or just “Coach” if you don’t know his last name.
 
Show courage. Use your best judgment. Don’t be afraid to make the call.
 
Don’t be afraid to call a third strike.
 
Use common sense.
 
Ignore complaints and move the game along.
 
Do not let a manager or a coach intimidate you into not making a call or into changing your call.
 
  
Needham Little League Zero Tolerance Policy
 
Needham Little League has adopted a zero-tolerance policy in connection with managers or coaches discussing calls or rules interpretations with umpires. There is to be no arguing or conferring with an umpire on any ruling by an umpire, even for an interpretation of a rule.
 
If something like this happens during or after a game, the umpires should call or email the Director of Umpires as soon as possible. The umpires will be supported but the Director needs to know what happened and why and needs the umpires’ side of the story as soon as possible. The umpires do not need to report everything to the Director – only when the umpire believes that a manager or coach went over the line.
 
Umpires should use their common sense. Managers or coaches are not arguing with the umpire if they are talking to each other, or their players, on the bench even if the umpire can hear them. Umpires should try to have a thick skin and ignore minor complaints. Taking a little baloney is part of the game. Umpires should not get drawn into a discussion or argument with a manager or coach. Also, remember there are times when the managers or coaches will need to speak to the umpire; this usually involves playing conditions (rain, lightning, darkness), how much longer the game will go on, clarification as to what call was made, how many balls and strikes there are on a batter, etc.
 
The bottom line is that if a manager or coach argues a particular call during a game, or instructs an umpire how to interpret a rule before or during a game, or makes loud derogatory comments about the umpires to his players in such a manner that the umpires can hear the comments, the umpires should contact the Director of Umpires as soon as possible after the game.
 
 
Additional Resources
 
National Little League website – www.littleleague.org
 
  • Click on Umpires at the top of the page for practical pointers about the rules and calling games.
 
Baseball Umpires website – www.baseballumpires.com
 
  • Has online edition of the rules and practical materials on how to interpret the rules and call games.
 
John Skilton’s website – www.baseball-links.com
 
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about baseball and more. Go down the menu and click on Rules/Umpiring for links to various sites devoted to umpires and baseball rules.
 
Umpire/Rules website – www.eteamz.com/baseball/rules/obr
 
  • Information and practical pointers on the rules and calling games.
Needham Baseball & Softball Code of Conduct
 

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