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Baseball is a game of bat-and-ball. It is played between two teams of nine players on a field with four white bases laid out in a diamond. Players take turns batting and fielding throughout the game. In their turn as batters, each player tries to hit the ball as far out from the fielders’ reach. They then attempt to complete the circuit around the bases for a run. The team with the most runs in nine innings wins the game. Baseball is considered to be the Americans’ “national pastime.”

Who Officiates a Baseball Game?

In baseball, umpires ensure that coaches and players follow the rules. They make vital decisions regarding pitches and plays. Whether batters are safe or out, or a pitched baseball is a strike or a ball, they are responsible for imposing on-field rules.

Umpires render crucial judgment calls. They gesture standard hand signals while yelling out specific words or phrases to communicate on the field. Ultimately, they have the jurisdiction to eject anyone in the game, whether players, managers, or coaches, who break the rules or display improper conduct on the field.

In the game, the umpire checks the players’ equipment, lines on the field, the condition of the baseballs, how many are available for play, and ensures that an official rosin bag is placed on the ground behind the pitcher’s plate. 

The Umpire-in-chief or the Home Plate Umpire

He is an essential umpire in the game. While standing in the batter’s box behind the batter and catcher, the plate umpire makes all the crucial decisions on pitches, strikes, or balls. The umpire-in-chief always holds the final decision. Only the team captains can appeal to him.

Base Umpires

They can be the first base and second base umpires. Sometimes, they are called field umpires. Near the bases is their standard stations. These umpires make calls concerning runners on the bases. They also make calls on nearby plays and those made in the middle of the outfield. Then, they relay these calls to the plate umpire.

Four umpires are commonly used in Major League Baseball (MLB) games. Each is named by the base at which they are stationed. Leagues with six umpires put the extra two along the outfield, thereby calling them outfield umpires. More specifically, they are also called left- and right-field umpires.

What are the Umpire Signals in Baseball?

Because baseball fans can get loud during the game, umpires use hand signals. This way, everyone in the game knows what is going on. Here are some of the hand signals umpires make that every baseball fan should know:

Play Ball:  The umpire points at the pitcher with his right hand and yells “Play!” to start the game. He may also swing his upturned palms upward to hint the pitcher to throw the pitch. He may also do this to indicate the pitcher to throw the pitch. After a dead ball, the umpire can shout “Play!” to start a game again.

Do Not Pitch:  Pushing the palm forward sends the pitcher a signal to wait before throwing his next pitch.

Strike or Out:  Strikes are called with the right hand. The umpire makes a clenched fist with a single, quick pounding motion. Other umpires point to the side. This also means a strike is made. The clenched fist is also used to signal an outcall. An umpire gives this call when a runner is out before reaching the next base.

Safe:  When the umpire swings his arms inwards to his chest sideward at the elbow joint means that a runner safely reaches any base.

Timeout or Foul Ball:  When a batter hits a foul ball, the umpire raises both hands. He also does this when he needs to pause the play.

Fair Ball:  Using either arm, the umpire stretches it sideward. He does this when a batter hits a ball that lands on fair ground.

Foul Tip:  When the batter swings and barely tips the ball but the catcher still catches it, the umpire puts both hands at the chest, palms facing downward, and then swings one arm sideward.

What equipment do baseball umpires need?

Uniform

All umpires need a uniform to be recognized against the players on the field. Different associations or leagues have different uniform standards. Inquire about the required style or color. Most umpires own a black and powder blue umpire shirt. These are the most popular colors.

For the lower body garment, you may wear plate pants while working the plate and base pants while on the bases. You may also opt to secure a nice pair of combo pants. They will undoubtedly get the job done. 

You will undoubtedly need an umpire belt. It is wider than the standard dress belt. As a support to your ball bags, it needs to provide extra strength for when you are working on the plate. Hats and jackets are also part of the uniform.   

There are three umpire jacket styles. They can be half-zip, full zip, or convertible. The last option has removable sleeves at the elbow. Choose your hat and master removing your mask without removing your cap, especially when you are working the plate.

It is essential that your uniform fits well and is appropriately worn to command the respect of coaches, players, and spectators. Keep your protective gear in mind when fitting them to ensure that you get the proper size.

Shoes

Baseball games tend to be extended. Quality footwear is essential to make your time in the field feel like a walk in the park. Invest in a suitable plate and base shoes. Plate shoes have a composite toe box and a metatarsal plate to protect your entire foot from the ball. On the other hand, base shoes should have both traction and comfortability to stand in gravel, dirt, and grass. 

Protective Equipment

Mask:  The umpire mask or helmet is for head safety. Choose from a variety of colors, pads, and frame options.

Chest Protector:  Depending on the level of baseball you are officiating, choose the type of chest protector that will provide adequate protection. Most chest protectors have a hard plastic outer shell. Pick this for a level higher than 12-year-old leagues. Some have hard-plated shoulder and collar bone pads.  These are sufficient for lower-level baseball leagues. Determine your body frame dimension and get the proper size for a good fit.

Shin Guards:  In picking your shin guards, consider the ones with a low profile. They will fit under your umpire pants better. Lighter weight can also be beneficial on the plate or on the bases. Ensure that you get the appropriate length for ample shin protection.

Accessories:  Baseball umpires will need an indicator, timer, plate brush, game card holder, and ball bags. These tools are essential and valuable when working in the game.

If you are looking for official gear in baseball or another sport, you may want to consider Ump Junk. We offer quality gear, customer satisfaction, and price competitiveness. Ask us about our products. Call us at 210-364-1110. We are at 5123 N Loop 1604 W Suite 106, San Antonio, Texas 78249.