Baseball Umpires’ Learning Blog

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45 Comments »

  1. I am looking for a PDF or online version of 3-man mechanics that would be used for JC and NCAA baseball. I have found some already, but they aren’t specific to college, so they aren’t consistent. Some of them talk about a ‘deep B or C,’ where others only use A,B, and C positions. Another one has the first base umpire going between first and second base at times, while one manual I’ve found says they never leave A position. Any ideas?

    Comment by Luke | November 18, 2007 | Reply

  2. It really depends on the crew that you work with. I have never worked in a system that required a deep B or Deep C – I thought that it was a preference.

    There are lots of times that the A position guy leaves ‘his spot’.
    1. When the third base guy goes our on a fly – the system then turns to a 2 man rotation.
    2. Runner on 2nd or 2nd & 3rd with less than 2 outs, the the A slot guy goes to the B slot.
    3. A rule of thumb that I have seen is the 3rd base ump goes to the C slot (when inside) and the 1st base ump goes to the B slot (when inside).

    As far as guides to see in print – I have seen some good stuff from NASO (books you can order through them). I have some from Little League and the systems are the same – so I think that a 3 man mechanic is the same, no matter what the level is.

    Good Luck

    Comment by Troy | December 4, 2007 | Reply

    • deep b/c is choice if u know the type of hitters contactis hard its all feel for the sistution

      Comment by billy dougher/umprie32 | December 19, 2011 | Reply

  3. Luke asks a good question which has several answers.I would begin by saying that there is not one mechanics manual for two and three and four man systems. Each level of play uses approximately the same mechanics, but there are differences that can only be learned by first studying the appropriate manual and then actually officiating games that utilize those specific mechanics.

    Most junior colleges use NCAA rules and umpire mechanics. A great resource that specifically highlights NCAA two and three man mechanics is available from Epic Software whose site is:

    http://epicsoftware.com/index.php?site_id=3&software_id=4,

    The mechanics manual I have always referred to is the small red PBUC Manual for the Two Umpire System, published by the Professional Baseball Umpires Corporation. A third really good resource is the three volume set “Baseball Umpires’ Guidebook” published by Referee Magazine. Volume ! demonstrates Proper Positioning, Volume 2 addresses Communications and Mechanics, while Volume 3 describes 3 and 4 Man Mechanics. In addition, the National Federation of High School Athletics publishes its own mechanics manual for high school baseball as does Little League Baseball for its Major League, Junior and Senior League divisions.

    One of the most important aspects of umpire mechanics is communication. When I observe a baseball game and don’t hear phrases like, “I got third if he comes” or “I’m on the line”, I know that the crew is not communicating well and thus is not giving the teams its best effort. No matter what mechanics the association to which one belong uses, unless the members of the crew constantly communicate with one another, they just cannot be an effective crew.

    With respect to the four positions, A, B, C, D, the mechanics of the association under whose jurisdiction the umpires are working will determine in which position an umpire will stand in any given situation. However, the type and tempo of the game as well as the athleticism of the players involved will play a large role in an umpire’s decision as to where exactly he will stand when occupying each of those postions. For example, the normal starting place for the B position is halfway between the mound and second base on a line drawn from the back point on home plate through the point where the dirt and the grass meet on the first base side of the mound. That will work well for most situations. However, if the pitcher has a good move to first and is not afraid to use it, many umpires will cheat a few steps towards home on that line to be able to better see the pickoff play at first. On the other hand, if there is a real speed merchant occupying first base and it is an obvious steal situation, some umpires will cheat a little to the right of that line and back up a few steps toward second to get a better look at the tag at second. That is all a personal preference.

    As far as never leaving the A position is concerned, I don’t think we serve the game well if we stay rooted in one place. Even in the four man system, where there is a base for every umpire, there are times when the umpire at second (the B slot) is in the outfield to rule on a catch/no catch, the umpire in the A slot(on the first base foul line towards the outfield) will take the runner into second. We always need to anticipate where a play might take place and have an umpire (and only one) there to cover it.

    The bottom line, Luke, is that there is not one black/white mechanic system that applies to every level of play. The concepts are the same, but there are differences between Little League, National Federation of HIgh Schools, NCAA, and major league play. Learn the mechanics of the group for whom you are working, read the material, watch the videos, talk with current umpires, but most important, get out there and DO IT. Let the older, more experienced umpires guide you, but learn the flexibility of system in which you are working and realize that it is not black and white. Good luck to you!

    Comment by Steve Johnson | January 3, 2008 | Reply

  4. Runner on third. One out. Fly ball to left fielder. It hits his glove. Runner tags and scores. Ball bounces off left fielder’s glove into the glove of the center fielder before hitting the ground. The umpire calls the runner out for leaving too soon (before the out if made by the center fielder. Is this the correct ruling?

    Comment by Gene Fehler | May 19, 2008 | Reply

    • Bad call. The runner can tag up as soon as it touches a defensive player.

      Comment by Hubie Martello | March 17, 2011 | Reply

  5. This adds a twist to the situation where the runner can leave on first contact of the ball with the fielder, but the rule has to be the same. The runner should not be ruled out as long as he waited until the ball touched a fielder before leaving the base. Otherwise teams would try this to get extra outs.

    Comment by Shawn Kimball | May 19, 2008 | Reply

  6. This adds a twist to the situation where the runner can leave on first contact of the ball with the fielder, but the rule has to be the same. The runner should not be ruled out as long as he waited until the ball touched a fielder before leaving the base. Otherwise teams would try this to get extra outs.

    Comment by Shawn Kimball | May 19, 2008 | Reply

  7. 2 outs, runners 1st and 3rd, batter hits to first, 1st baseman deflects the ball into the 1st to 2nd runner, who then deflects it to the 2nd baseman, who then tags that runner for the third out. The runner from 3rd crossed the plate before the tag, does he score?

    Comment by Kevin Quinn | June 2, 2008 | Reply

  8. First of all, I am assuming that this is a ground ball. If this is the case, the runner at first if forced to go to second. If the runner is tagged or second base is tagged before this runner reaches 2nd base, it is a force out and no runs score even if the runner scores before the out is made.

    Now if you are asking about the situation where the ball never touches the ground going directly from the bat, to the first baseman’s glove, off the runner, and then into the second baseman’s glove without touching the ground, I believe that the ruling is a “no-catch” since it hit a runner. The ball remains alive because it has touched a defensive player before hitting the runner. Therefore, it is still a force play since the runner forced from first to second is retired before reaching second base. No runs can score. If the ball does not hit the runner and the ball is caught in the air, then the runner is tagged, the run would score if the plate is touched before the runner is tagged out or first base is tagged for the third out. However, in this case the runner at third may not have tagged up, so the defensive team can appeal at 3rd base (different ways to appeal depending on the rulebook governing the game at hand), to get an apparent 4th out. If the runner that scored is out on appeal, his run is negated.

    Please someone correct me if I am incorrect about the batted ball in flight touching the fielder, runner, and then being caught not being recorded as a fly ball out. This is a strange situation and I couldn’t locate the rule or casebook play.

    Comment by Shawn Kimball | June 2, 2008 | Reply

  9. A Baseball Game situation: There is men on first base and the batter is on deck. The men on first base is taking a lead, The pitcher Throws the ball into the crowd wildly trying to gun out the men on first base. What base will the men on first advance too? due to the wild throw into the crowd by first base?

    Comment by Noel | September 12, 2009 | Reply

    • It depends on how he ‘made the move’.

      Did the pitcher do a picot move on the rubber or is he a lefty or did the pitcher step off?

      I would call 1 base if he was on the rubber and 2 bases if he stepped off.

      Comment by Troy | October 2, 2009 | Reply

      • Good call Troy! If the throw was from the rubber, one base. Place R1 at second. If the pitcher stepped off the rubber, treat him as an infielder. Give R1 third.

        Comment by Hubie Martello | March 17, 2011

  10. In the above post – I meant pivot move not picot.

    Comment by Troy | October 2, 2009 | Reply

  11. Base ump at position c when batter hits and runs to 1st. plate ump runs up the line to first to back up the base ump on the call. Base ump calls out but then comes to plate ump for an opinion. Plate ump thinks batter was safe. Base ump changes the call to, “safe.” Is this ok or should the base ump stick with his original call? I’ve been told that the base ump should have stuck to his original call and not changed it in this instance. It wasn’t an appeal or anything out of the ordinary, just a close call. The base ump wanted to get the call “right”

    Comment by JackN | April 27, 2010 | Reply

    • Jack, you picked one that is sure to cause differences of opinion. Some will say do anything to get the call right. While others will say “hey, that is your call at first, make the call!” I am of the second opinion. If you difer to your partner for his opinion, you are sure to eventually cause the coaches to recognize that you are unsure of your calls. Some say you should only ask for help at first when you think the F3 may have pulled his foot. Which brings up another question? Just because F3 pulled his foot off a tad quick doesn’t mean the Batter Runner should be called safe. If F3’s foot was pulled because of a bad throw by an infielder then yes he pulled his foot. If otherwise no pulled foot. Bottom line, it is your call. Live with it.

      Comment by Hubie Martello | March 17, 2011 | Reply

  12. I wanted to ask a question about obstruction. My son had a game the other day where the shortstop circled around front of the base runner (base runner leading off from second base)to obstruct the view to the pitcher. When the shortstop was in the way the pitcher threw over to the second basemen covering the throw to second. Is this legal? and if it is legal, i would only assume the play lacks sportsmenship. Thank you…

    Comment by Joseph Ochoa | May 2, 2010 | Reply

  13. I coach a 12U travel team. Last night my pitcher was called for 2 balks that I have never heard called before. The umpire said he did not come “set” below his chin. My pitcher comes set in front of his chin not below it. The umpire said that he did come set, just that it was not below his chin. I have seen this kid pitch 100 times and never has anyone called this balk. Is this part of the balk rule?

    Comment by PJ | May 14, 2010 | Reply

  14. Hi guys, was wondering if any of you saw a questionable play in the Astros/Royals game tonight. Bottom of the fifth, man on second, one out. Batter hits a real soft liner to the SS, the ball clearly doesn’t carry and bounces into his glove. Runner on second is already half way to third, and carries on running. However, 2B umpire calls the batter out on a catch, and the SS tags second for the inning-ending double play. Umps huddle to discuss the play, while the Astros run off the field and TV goes to commercial. When we come back to the game, the umps have decided it *wasn’t* a catch – their ruling was then said to be that the SS would have gone to 1st with the throw, so there are now two outs, batter was ruled out, and the man on 2nd was allowed to advance to third.

    Is this the “right” call by the rules?

    Comment by Andy | June 17, 2010 | Reply

    • There must not be many umpires out there answering you guys questions. Andy, I did not see the game. I will say this. At the MLB level those guys are spot on. Especially after a huddle! LOL They will break w/a consensus ruling. What ever they did, you betcha they got it right.

      Comment by Hubie Martello | March 17, 2011 | Reply

      • we are out there to get it right a huddle must be short and control by the uic best judgment is first

        Comment by billy dougher/umprie32 | December 19, 2011

  15. I have a question regarding when a base umpire can ask another base umpire for assistance. In a game last night there were runners on 1st & 2nd, and a ground ball was hit to SS. The SS threw the ball to 2B to force out the runner coming from 1B. The umpire behind 2B called the runner safe. For some unknown reason, the 1B ump called the runner at 2B out, even though he was responsible for watching a potential play at 1B, since the batter was running to 1B. The 2B ump was 14 feet from the play, while the 1B ump was 65 feet away. Is the 2B umpire allowed to change his call after getting help from the 1B umpire on a simple force out play, when there was no question as to whether the fielder’s foot was off the bag.

    Comment by Steve | July 25, 2010 | Reply

    • Steve, was this a little league game? I would suguest that those guys look up their local high school association. Ask a high school coach…he will put em’ in touch. Attend some of their clinics….they need a bit of schooling. But let me answer your question. I’ve been working baseball since 1971. I’ve been schooled by MLB’s best & brightest over the years. You may disagree w/some of my methods, old school, but responsabilities are the same so are mechanics and timing…they are constants when umpiring. You and you alone are responsabile for the base to which you were assigned. The only time this changes is in certain situations. Such as a three man crew w/runners at the corners and the batter hits a double. At start of play you are where you belong at your respective base. Plate man at the dish, 1st base ump at 1st. 3rd base ump in “C” position. That is behind the mound and a shade on the 3rd base side w/his heals at the edge of the grass/dirt of infield but in front of infielders. Remember the batter hit a double. So at end of play you end up w/the plate man at 3rd covering the runner from 1st. He also watched the runner at 3rd touch home. The 3rd base umpire is still somewhere around the “B,C” slot. He is responsable for the runner at first touching second and the batter runner into second. The first base umps responsability is for the batter runner touching first…when the batter runner committs to second the 1st base umpire now heads home to cover the dish. By plays end we see the plate man at 3rd. the 3rd base umpire at 2nd and the 1st base umpire at the Plate. It’s all about responsability. Prior to the batter coming to the box to bat the plate man will give a rotation signal by pointing to third, meaning I got third. The 3rd base ump may point to 2nd and the 1st base ump will point to the plate. It is truely a thing of beauty when this rotation is done properly. There are many more rotations depending on where the ball was hit.

      Comment by Hubie Martello | March 17, 2011 | Reply

  16. Runners on 1st and 3rd.
    One out.
    Fly ball caught by left-fielder.
    Runner from third tags and scores.
    Runner on 1st had played it half-way – when ball was caught he ran to 2nd base.
    Ball thrown in to the infield.
    Fielder tags baserunner who is now standing on 2nd base for the third out.
    Runner from 3rd had already crossed homeplate.
    Does that run stand or is it cancelled?

    Comment by poppi | July 28, 2010 | Reply

    • Run counts!!! Found this example in the MLB.com rule book… “Example: Not a force out. One out. Runner on first and third. Batter flies out. Two out. Runner
      on third tags up and scores. Runner on first tries to retouch before throw from fielder reaches first
      baseman, but does not get back in time and is out. Three outs. If, in umpire’s judgment, the runner from third touched home before the ball was held at first base, the run counts.”

      Comment by Jeremy | July 10, 2011 | Reply

  17. Hi I have a question. I coach baseball in Australia and during one of my national tournament games this year we had an umpire wrongly call a foul ball. The situation was a runner on 1st base, one out, A hard hit ground ball struck the outside half of first base and bounded into foul territory, the first base umpire called it foul as it hit the “foul side of the base”. The rest of the play was played out and we ended up with runners on the corners. The umpires got together and decided to bring the runner back to first and brought the hitter back to the box after admitting the ruling was wrong. Is this the correct decision after booting an obvious fair ball call. Thanks Kyle

    Comment by Kyle | August 25, 2010 | Reply

    • Kyle, unfortunitly yes. Once you call something foul, it cannot be changed. I had a similar situation occur in a college game. I was at 1st. there was a runner at 3rd in the 7th w/the home team batting and down by a run. The batter hits a screamer down the 3rd base line. The ball causes the 3rd base umpire to do a 360 spin. As he comes out of his spinn we all are awaiting his call…no call yet so the plate man gives the fair ball sign by pointing to the ground in fair territory and at the same time the 3rd base umpire decides to make a call. Yeah, you guessed it, he threw his hands over his head and called it foul. That killed the play. I do not like the ruling but we cannot pick and choose which rules we want to enforce.

      Comment by Hubie Martello | March 17, 2011 | Reply

  18. ive umprie for 35 yrs and postions and a/b/c sitution have changed over the yrs I Use baseball umpries guidbook vol 1 proper positioning by mark r ambrosins /scott EHRET 2MAN SYSTEM REFEREE MAGAZINE/1994 BILL DOUGHER [CBUA] MSBL MABL AMERICAN LEGION ECT TALK BEFORE GAME ABOUT COVERAGE ALLWAYS CHEST TO BALL CANT GET IN TROUBLE

    Comment by bill dougher | October 6, 2010 | Reply

    • Great advice Bill. Coverages/responsabilities also change about every decade. I’ve finally seen some of this stuff come full circle. Good to hear from another old timer out there.

      Comment by Hubie Martello | March 17, 2011 | Reply

  19. A runner on 2d. Pitcher at the stretch. Pitcher does the inside move , swinging his front foot passed the rubber and as he swings it past the rubber, the runner takes off to third. Does the pitcher have to plant his foot toward second base before he disengages the rubber to make a play and run at the guy stealing third?…or…can he interrupt his move to second and run at the runner??

    Comment by Dan Curry | April 13, 2011 | Reply

  20. look up baseball guide to umprie[postion vol1 ] proper positioning by mark rambrosius /referee magazine

    Comment by bill dougher /umprie 32 | June 24, 2011 | Reply

  21. runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. The batter swings and misses the third strike but the catcher drops it. the runner on 3rd base scores before the catcher is able to throw down to 1st and get the batter out. does the run count? your help please

    Comment by Jon Jenkins | July 6, 2011 | Reply

    • The run does not count – MLB.com RULES – 4.09 HOW A TEAM SCORES.
      (a) One run shall be scored each time a runner legally advances to and touches first,
      second, third and home base before three men are put out to end the inning.
      EXCEPTION: A run is not scored if the runner advances to home base during a
      play in which the third out is made
      (1) by the batter-runner before he touches firstbase;
      (2) by any runner being forced out;
      or (3) by a preceding runner who is declared out because he failed to touch one of the bases.

      Comment by Jeremy | July 10, 2011 | Reply

  22. Bases loaded, 2 outs. Ground ball to third baseman. Third baseman does not step on third, instead he runs/jogs towards the runner coming from 2nd base and tags him for the third out. However, the runner on third has crossed the plate before the tag. Does the run count? I have always gone under the assumption that the run counts because it was a “tag out” and not a force. Wikipedia has stated “A forced runner also may be tagged out in the usual fashion as well; such a tag is still considered a force play if the tag is made before the runner reaches his force base.” Wikipedia is the only place I can find this reference, I’d feel much better hearing from this forum, or seeing it on the rules at MLB.com

    Comment by Jeremy | July 10, 2011 | Reply

  23. A ball hit in the air, then the fielder recognizing that he/she cannot reach it, removes his/her glove and tosses the mit to intercept the ball and then (by fantastic luck) catches the mit with the ball. (I’ve seen it done by a crafty veteran named Bugs Bunny 🙂
    Is the batter called out, or is the ball in play as a hit (like a hit off the Green Monster in Fenway)?

    Comment by 2 Chowdahs Now | September 20, 2011 | Reply

    • saturday cartoons are on allday 1230 play ball is called in my umprie world ///// just having fun old craft ballplayers can keep u on your toes,billdougher ,msbl umprie nj pa az fla

      Comment by billy dougher #32 | November 20, 2011 | Reply

  24. This is a very informative and interesting blog to read. I have been thinking about getting into officiating as a part time gig but I don’t think I am up to the challenge. My hat goes off to all of you! Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Baseball Field Padding | December 8, 2011 | Reply

  25. a meeting must be short and controled by the uic ew are out there to get it right best judgement firts

    Comment by billy dougher/umprie32 | December 19, 2011 | Reply

  26. Is it a balk for a pitcher to get on the rubber with his hands together to pitch from the stretch?

    Comment by Jack | March 31, 2012 | Reply

  27. A game situation question. Runners on 1st & 2nd, batter hits walk off home run which would end game – home team wins 8 to 6. Runner on 2nd fails to touch 3rd base but does not touch home before he realizes his mistake. Runner from 1st has touched 3rd. Because home run causes a dead ball situation, can runner from 2nd return to touch 3rd without penalty? Umpires ruled runner from 2nd out on appeal because runner from 1st had already touched third.. Appeal on runner from 2nd was the third out of the inning and no runs scored. Game continued into extra innings.

    Comment by Sam | April 28, 2012 | Reply

  28. Baseball ruling Question. Runner on second with one out batter hits a single and is safe runner scores. Batter thinks the game is over and comes off the bag and runs towards home to celebrate. Gets half way and runs back to first. Batter never leaves the field of play. Umpire call him out for leaving the baseline then changes his mind and says he gave himself up. No attempt to make a play by the other team. Thanks Joey

    Comment by Joey | August 30, 2013 | Reply

    • Runner is out for leaving his base.

      Comment by David | June 18, 2014 | Reply

  29. Hello to all!
    I would like to know (NFHS) about double-header protocol, i.e. warning to coaches and players – do they continue over to the second game, e.g. coach restricted to the dugout.

    Thanks – SeniorChief

    Comment by Earl Ashmore | May 28, 2016 | Reply

  30. Man on 1st and 3rd, 2 outs. Ball hit to 2nd basemen who starts to look home and runs a few steps, then realizes it’s a force play. He runs towards the runner, the runner stops, then the 2nd basemen turns and runs to 2nd base for the put out. But the runner from 3 rd scored 10 seconds before the final out was made, even though it was a force.

    Does the run count??

    Comment by George Schmitt | March 29, 2018 | Reply


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