You’ve decided that you want to become a part of the umpiring family. So, what’s next? What are the things that you need? Well, there is no need to worry since we are here to help you get started.

Keep in mind that there are startup costs involved even before you start going into the field. You will need umpire uniforms as well as protective equipment and other essential gear. First, you need to begin with the essentials.

Later on, you can add more to your collection or upgrade some of the items as your career continues to grow. This is an effective strategy for those who have just started umpiring. The following are some of our recommendations for new umpires who are just starting their umpire career.

Uniform

The importance of perception in your appearance becomes evident, especially when you’re consistently on the field. Ensuring your uniform fits impeccably is paramount. A well-maintained uniform not only boosts your confidence but also commands respect from players, coaches, and spectators alike.

Recognize that each league or association maintains distinct uniform standards. Therefore, it’s prudent to consult your specific association or league regarding preferred colors or styles.

While many umpires gravitate towards powder blue or black umpire shirts, starting with a classic black is often recommended. Over time, as you progress in your career, you can diversify your color palette with shades like navy blue.

Regarding pants, cost-efficiency can be achieved by opting for combo pants instead of purchasing separate base and plate pants. While some seasoned umpires may lean towards plate pants, combo pants typically suffice for various positions. As a best practice, always consult your league or association regarding preferred pant colors.

It’s essential to note that umpire pants come unhemmed. Therefore, when visiting your local tailor for adjustments, ensure you wear your plate shoes and shin guards. This step ensures the hem length aligns accurately, especially crucial for plate and combo pants.

Additionally, the choice of belt shouldn’t be overlooked. An umpire’s belt is notably wider than standard dress belts. This enhanced width accommodates the attachment of ball bags during plate duties, ensuring the belt’s durability and functionality. To ensure a proper fit, aim for a belt that’s at least two to four inches larger than your pant size.

When selecting a cap, various options are available to you. Options include caps with four, six, or eight-stitch bills, each varying in bill length. Materials range from mesh and wool to moisture-wicking fabric.

Some umpires opt for a six-stitch hat during base duties and a four-stitch hat while on the plate. Starting with a four-stitch hat on the plate is advisable, especially until you’ve mastered removing your mask without needing to remove your hat.

Regardless of the game’s location or timing, investing in an umpire jacket is a wise decision. There are three primary styles to consider: the heavyweight style with a fleece-lined full zip, the medium-weight traditional half-zip, and the lightweight convertible jackets that allow sleeve removal at the elbow.

The traditional half-zip remains a popular choice, with navy blue featuring white and red shoulder stripes or black with white shoulder stripes being the most sought-after color combinations.

Shoes

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Opting for quality footwear can greatly enhance your comfort during lengthy games, making them feel almost effortless. Investing in both plate and base shoes is recommended. Plate shoes are designed with a metatarsal plate and a composite toe box, offering comprehensive foot protection from passed and foul balls—a decision you’ll surely appreciate.

Major League umpires typically don top-tier plate shoes. These come in a range of sizes and widths, catering to both low and mid-cut preferences. For newcomers to umpiring, entry-level plate shoes offer a more budget-friendly option. Base shoes, on the other hand, need to strike a balance: they must be comfortable enough for dirt or gravel surfaces yet provide adequate traction on grass. Like plate shoes, base shoes are available in various sizes, widths, and styles.

Uniform policies concerning shoe styles can vary among leagues and associations. Therefore, it’s prudent to consult with your group about any color restrictions before finalizing your purchase. Some umpires might prefer to avoid shoes with white elements, so it’s essential to be aware of such preferences.

Chest Protector

The right umpire chest protector largely depends on your body size and the level of play you oversee, whether it’s softball or baseball. For games involving players older than 12 years, a chest protector with a hard plastic outer shell is highly recommended.

Look for protectors that offer both affordability and ample protection. With a range of sizes available, it’s feasible to find one that fits you perfectly, offering more tailored protection than generic, one-size-fits-all options.

While some chest protectors lack a hard outer shell, they may feature collarbone pads and reinforced shoulder plates, sufficient for lower-level softball or baseball. If desired, additional padding such as removable bicep and stomach protection pads can be added for extra safety.

Protective Equipment Mask

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It is highly recommended that you invest heavily in your head’s safety. There are various options that are available when choosing the right umpire mask or helmet for you. When it comes to the frame and pad options, colors and materials could vary.

One of the most popular choices is the aluminum mask frame since it is much lighter compared to steel. Additionally, its price is much lower compared to titanium.

Shin Guards

Compared to other protective umpire equipment, you can choose value over protection with shin guards. You can start with a great pair of shin guards that have a lower profile and fit perfectly under your combo pants. Make sure that it is lighter compared to other higher-end shin guards.

Accessories And Kits

Aside from uniforms, shoes, and protective gear, umpires also require ball bags, plate brushes, and indicators. The umpire kit should include a ball bag, a plastic umpire indicator, and a plastic plate brush. These three tools are essential; hence, you have to purchase all of them. If you prefer to wear two ball bags, then you need to buy the second one separately.

Conclusion

You might feel overwhelmed after knowing that you require a huge initial investment as you begin your umpire career. However, you can have peace of mind on the field knowing you are well protected while umpiring, aside from looking your best. As you continue to work on more games, you can add more to your existing umpire equipment and uniforms.

Ump Junk offers high-quality uniforms and equipment for umpires. For more details, you can call us at 210-364-1110 or send us an email at umpjunk@gmail.com.