Umpiring One Liners

On Umpire Consistency:

Anyway, in the third game Sunday evening, I was on the bases and while in B position, had a fairly close call at 1B for my first call of the game. I called the batter runner out.

"Oh, come on Blue, BE CONSISTENT!"

came the loud comment from the 3B coach's box. I turned and looked at the coach, and replied:

"That was my first call of the game - how do you know I'm NOT being consistent?"
-- Dave Hensley

Working a college game earlier this year, manager barks out,

"Come on, Tony, you're better than that."

Problem was this was the first time I had this team.  I called back,

"How do you know?  This might be as good as it gets." 

Everyone chuckled.

-- Tony Peters

First pitch of the ball game: "Ball"

Second pitch: "Strike"

Crowd: "Come on Blue! Be consistent."

You really have to be careful what you call that first pitch.

-- R.Jordan McDowell

Divine Intervention, as told by John Patrick

LL 9&10 sectionals.

The manager in the 1st base dugout notifies U1 that a lady is throwing something on the field with every pitch. U1 comes over to me between innings and asks me and U3 to keep an eye on her. Sure enough, every pitch she puts something in her hand and throws it through the fence. In between innings I jog over to the fence and ask her not to throw anything on the field.

In her hand is a bottle of holy water. I mean a real ornate bottle with cross and all. Despite being a clear day, I started to worry about lightning bolts and decided I was going to have no more to do with this one.

Well she kept at it. Other manager continued to whine. U1, finally went over and convinced her to stop.

After she stopped, the other team (the whiners) rallied for a come from behind victory.


They are behind the wire.

Umpire Rule #1: Never listen to anything from behind the wire.

-- R.Jordan McDowell

On Ejections

"It is easy to throw someone out of the game. It's hard to keep someone in the game" -- MLB Umpire Larry Young on Fox Sports Hardcore Baseball, discussing how umpires try not to run players and coaches. August 1, 2000.

"An umpire doesn't eject a manager or player, they eject themselves. They know exactly what they can say and who they can say it to. So when somebody is thrown out, he has either completely lost control, or he intended to be run." -- MLB Umpire Eric Gregg

Somebody once described umpiring as watching a game and telling people what happened. Safe, out; ball, strike; interference, obstruction; EJ... it's all the same. -- Herb Root

"A fouled ball has no conscience." -- Hayes A. Davis on why to invest in a good chest protector

Coaches are not our enemies; nor are they our friends. -- Ace Holleran

One time, the defense turned a beautiful double play, except for the fact that the BR beat the relay throw by a whisker.

At first, it was, "How can you call that?"

Then it morphed into, "We haven't gotten a break all day."

I always interpret that as, "We aren't good enough to make the plays, so I want you to help us."

Rich Fronheiser

The only implied time out I recognize is when I turn my back to the field to clean the plate. Even then, I quietly say, "My time".

I'm dusting the plate a few years ago when I see a little dude sliding across home plate. Pregnant pause; I'm looking down at him, he is looking up at me.

I ask him, "What are you doing here"?

He proudly states "I just stole home!"

I retort, "Well, get on your feet and go steal 3rd. Time is out".

-- Dave Davies

Situation: Blowout game. You have the plate. BU is your senior.

He says, "Expand your zone."

You are concerned... you don't want folks saying your zone sucks. What do you do?

Here's advice from Jordan McDowell:

When this happened to me the first time my BU came to me and, pointing at the winning team said, "Do you know what those guys want? They want to get on the bus!"

Then he pointed at the losing team and said, "Do you know what those guys want? THEY want to get on the bus!"

"Let 'em!"

I recalled some advice that, paraphrasing, says : "Call all the strikes your integrity will allow, but don't give up your integrity for anything. It's all you have."

I've reminded myself of that, and shared it with others, often. Meaning, do listen to the senior guy. Expand your zone as much as you can. But do not sacrifice your self respect to do it.

We [amateur umpires] are still too hung up on fairness, when being fair is not and never has been our job. We are supposed to ensure that one side does not gain an advantage not intended by the rules. -- Carl Childress

"Son, when you pitch a strike, Mr. Hornsby will let you know it." -- MLB Umpire Bill Klem to a rookie pitcher who complained that the pitches Rogers Hornsby didn't swing at were always called balls by Klem

A good precept, especially for professional umpires, is: Never made an unusual call on a routine play. -- Carl Childress

"Cardinal rule for all hitters with two strikes on them: Never trust the umpire!." -- Robert Smith as quoted by William Safire and Leonard Safir in Words of Wisdom

"Ed, you're the second-best umpire in the league. The other 23 are tied for first." -- Carl Yastrzemski to MLB umpire Ed Runge, who credited Yaz with the best barb ever handed to an ump by a player

"The only purpose for adults in this game is to be role models for the children. If you cease to be a role model, your presence will no longer be required!" -- Phil Lamneck, Little League Florida District 13 Umpire Consultant, as related by D13 umpire John Smithers

"Best Eyes in the Park Award", as submitted by Chet Cooper, TX D14

This happened in last night's game. After a few close calls (all correct by U1), a female fan in the stands along the 1B line makes a remark to her friends which I overhear while strolling out between innings.

From her vantage point a good 60 feet from 1B at an angle of about 60 degrees behind the bag and 8 feet above the field she says,

"I just can't understand why that umpire can't make the correct call being so close to the base when from here we can obviously see that our runner was safe!"


And explaining this phenomenon, Gus passed on the following:

We see with our eyes. Fans and parents see with their hearts.

Parents... related by Diane Wagner

District Tournament of Champions - 11 & 12 year olds:

Runners at 1st & 2nd. Batter hits to shortstop who is run into by R2, causing him to drop the ball. Interference is called. Stands erupt. One dad yells out,

"There's no such thing as interference from 2nd to 3rd. What is he supposed to do, go around him?"


I had this exchange with a coach of a 9yr old all-star team. I had just rang up his batter (also his son) on a beauty of a inside pitch for the third out of an inning.

Coach: "Now Blue, I know you normally call the older leagues, but you have to realize that these boys are only 9 yrs old. You gotta give them some leeway"

Me: "The zone is the zone, coach"

Coach: "Yeah but they are only 9 years old"

Me: "So I should give 9 yr olds some leeway?"

Coach: "Absolutely"

I nod. The coach starts to walk off. I stopped him and asked,

"Coach, how old is the pitcher?"

-- Stan W.

Several yrs ago, I started a 'Youth Umpire' program in my local league. I felt it was an ideal opportunity to scout and train 14 to 18 year old kids to fill much needed roles. A core of 4 young men now 16 -17 years old are still very active and have become solid umpires, knowledgeable of the rules and mechanics, and confident on the field. They are active in multiple leagues in the district and are part of this season's tournament crews.

In a major league game this past season one of these young men was questioned by a coach (well known as a winer and complainer) on a judgement call, "how can you make that call?"

Without missing a beat, the young umpire replied. "Because, I am god, a direct decendent of ball!"

The coach, not knowing what to say, returned to the dugout and remained there for the rest of the game.

Larry Hahn

Subject: The FYC

I had an opportunity to use a sort of a FYC last weekend during a 16U game. First pitch is a high, inside curve that stays high and inside. I call ball. Very next pitch is lower and catches a good portion of the plate. I call strike.

From defensive team's dugout I hear, "That was the same pitch!"

So I step out, turn towards the dugout and reply, "Excuse me then, Ball 2."

Silence from the dugout.

The batter is cracking up, the catcher is mortified, I get back into position and say, "Play."

The catcher sheepishly asks, "What's the count, Blue?"

I reply "One and one."

I could practically hear the sigh of relief from the dugout.

Dave Hensley

Subject: Re: Your most memorable game

Two years ago I "stepped down" to work an 11-12 year old tournament (the kids were 11 and 12, not the tourney). Catcher takes a foul ball off his forearm. It hurts him. I clean the plate, hear sniffling. He's got tears coming down his cheeks. I ask,

"Ya want me to call you manager over?"

"(Sniff) No sir, I wanna play."

In my best fatherly voice I tell him,

"Tell the world we got two outs."

He steps in front of the plate lifts his mask and yells,


Squats back down and life went on.

Tony Peters

Subject: Coaches calling runners out during play

Joe Kusnir posted on

Clarification on coaches yelling "safe" or "out" while play is occuring. I recently started to umpire "little league" games and consistently run into the problem of coaches trying to make the call while the play is in progress. What specific rule can be invoked to resolve this situation. Re : Coaches calling runners out during play

JJ replied:

My father used to umpire and he employed a technique that is second to none. He had some business cards printed that he could quietly give to any coach or over zealous parent that had a statement similar to this,

I'm sure you enjoy the game of baseball as much as I do, and obviously care a great deal about the outcome of this game. I respect your interests and hope that you respect mine. Until then SHUT UP AND LET ME CALL THE GAME...I am the umpire, not you.

Yes, people didn't like it a whole lot but it kept him from having to embarass them in front of their kids which is who the game is really for anyway.

I blew it the way I saw it. -- Ralph DeLeonardis,umpire, commenting on a disputed call.

Other than those two instances, the umpire is just part of the field. We are a comparatively smart part of the field -- Steve Wilson, on describing the limitations of the umpire interference rules

The dangers of the Appeal Play - related by Jim Mantle:

Plate umpire comes up and points to 1B umpire, calling

"Did he go?"

Base umpire gives an emphatic strike signal:

"NO. But it caught the corner."

Plate umpire comes up and points to 1B umpire, calling

"Did he go?"

Base umpire gives an emphatic strike signal:

"NO. But he should have."

And another one from Scott Steinmetz. From a student umpire in training to work the plate, drilling on handling the Appeal Play:

First he called


Then, while pointing to his partner and meaning to say

"Did he GO?"

he instead said most forcefully

"HE WENT!!! ..... didn't he ?"

Rookie softball umpire on the plate. Just a bit excited as he thought he had his first strike out.




"But blue, that is only the second strike!?"


"Yeah, but it was so damn good, the pitcher should get extra credit. Sit down"

BTW, true story, I was on the bases and had a pretty good laugh before getting the batter back up to the plate.

-- Mike Row DASA Deputy UIC , Delaware Softball Umpire Assn; Rules Interpreter; NASO member


"His eliteness is fixin' to get the shit kicked out of him!"

Umpire Charlie Thomas of Dallas, Texas, holding forth during a clinic on a particularly pompous and overbearing umpire. -- as related by clinic attendee Steve Wilson


"Coach, I heard you the first time. You won't be here to say it a third time."

"Coach, if your wife has the car keys, have her warm it up."

-- Former minor league ump Dennis Delmonico, related by Ace Holleran

A few of Ace Holleran's Own:

LL mother:

"What is your definition of a good strike?"


"When my right arm goes up."

LL mom in stands:

"Mr. Ump, on that last play of the inning, my son Jason was safe."

AH, base ump:

"Oh no, ma'am. If he had been safe, he wouldn't be out there at shortstop right now."

LL mom, irate after a call by me in a game where her kid's team lost 9-0:

"You're a terrible umpire. I want to know your name so I can report you to Williamsport."


"Palermo. Steve Palermo. P-A-L-E-R-M-O."

 A second mom asked me what my definition of a "good strike" was. I answered,

"What would you consider the definition of a good kiss?"

She: "Well, that depends on a lot of factors."

Me: "AHA!"


Batted ball first strikes R3, who is off the sack, completely in foul territory. No possibility of INT. I kill the foul ball.

Irate defensive coach:

"That ball hit the runner!"




"The runner was off the base."


"Right you are."


"It was a batted ball fer crissakes, and it hit a runner."


"You're three-for-three. Want to go for the bonus question and risk it all?"


"That runner's gotta be out."


"[buzzer sound]. I'm sorry. Thank you for playing 'Stump the Ump.' We have lovely parting gifts. Don Pardo, tell the man what he's won."

Me, doing a halfway-decent Don Pardo:

"Well, Ace, he's won a trip back to the dugout, a strike on his batter, and the chance to watch the rest of the game from the bench, if he keeps his trap closed."

And finally from the Department of Succinctness and Brevity Dep't.:

Sacks juiced, two outs. Batter lifts a high pop to F6, who muffs the catch. R3 scores, R2 comes home, as does the rock. F2 steps on the dish, "beating" R2. I (PU) had backed off the plate a good deal, since I could tell all sorts of madcap antics would follow the muff. Defensive coach has been a major rectal pain all game; he is stationed not far from me. He lets go with a torrent that begins as the batted ball lofts into the air. I wish I had this litany on tape:

"Okay, Charlie, you got it... it's an infield fly... ooh, Charlie, you frickin' knucklehead ... that's okay, the batter's still out ... HEY UMP THAT'S AN INFIELD FLY ... nobody can run ... hey that run don't count ... throw it home Charlie ... FORCE OUT ... INFIELD FLY ... FORCE OUT ... NO RUNS ... UMP, WE GOTTA DO THE WHOLE PLAY OVER ... APPEAL THAT ... I SAID APPEAL THAT! ... NO FAIR ... INFIELD FLY, GODDAMMIT!"

I am leaving out a good 50 words that he added during the 10/15-second length of this play. I point to the plate twice, lift two fingers toward the scorekeeper, turn to the coach and say,

"Oh, shut up." 

From Jim R.

Five years ago, very poorly played JUCO game. My partner Larry (PU), was known to be even more of a smart-ass than I, believe it or not. About the fourth inning of a seven-inning game, the losing coach (imagine that!) really starts popping Larry over ball & strikes, eventually working his way to the top step of the dugout. Larry made his intentions clear when he told him,

"HEY! You're ***ing this game up bad enough by coaching!

Don't **** it up worse by trying to umpire!"

The coach stared at Larry for a second, then turned down the steps & took his seat.

Majors. I am U3. Third inning, close play at first (out). Loud player comment from my side dugout:

"Whats the matter with you, blue. He was safe."

Before I can even turn towards the dugout I hear the following from that teams manager

"Don't you EVER talk to an umpire that way. You can umpire or play but you can't do both. If you are going to umpire, stay home. I need players".

Not a peep for the rest of the game. I guess sportmanship is not dead afterall.

Larry McEwen, D13, Calif.


The hands are part of the arms. -- Herb Root

One of the really wrong theories about officiating is that a good official is one you never notice. The umpire who made that statement was probably a real poor official who tried to get his paycheck and hide behind his partners and stay out of trouble all his life. *Control* of the ballgame is the difference between umpires that shows up for the players and the managers. - Bruce Froemming

From "How to Umpire" by Billy Evans (Condensed from "Umpiring from the Inside" c. 1947 by Wm. G. Evans). I was struck by the first paragraph, what he emphasized and in what order...

Umpiring is a mixture of good physique, good eyes, plenty of courage, pride in your work, a knowledge of the rules, getting the right angle, a respect for the ability of others -- managers, players and umpires -- plus plenty of common sense. There is no greater asset than common sense properly applied."

Later, he says:

In all the 25 years that I umpired, I have never tried to prove infallibility. Rather, I have very forcefully stated that I called the play as i saw it, and that made the decision arrived at "official." Even when positive I had not erred, I always regarded it as diplomacy to listen to the player's side of the argument. It is far easier to reason with the player who has let off steam rather than one who is burning up over an adverse decision and finds no one willing to listen. It is then that he goes berserk.

Never try to alibi your error. That makes two mistakes out of one. Umpires dislike ball players who alibi. In like manner, ball players have no particular use for the umpire who always has an alibi.

Don't work your thumb overtime, pointing the way to the clubhouse. Baseball is played on the field, not under the showers....

-- Martha Newberry

A whole series of quotes from from Garth Benham


Third base coach:

"Looked wide from here blue."

Plate Ump

"Maybe that's why they make me call them from here, coach".

First base coach:

"You blind s.o.b. You couldn't tell a missed tag from four feet away."

Base Ump:

"No? Well, I sure can tell an ejected coach from ten feet away. You're gone"

PU: (Points and looks to the right)


Voice from the dugout:

"Call 'em both ways blue!"

PU, next pitch (Points and looks to the left)


PU: (On pitch just missing the corner)


PU: (Next Pitch just catches corner)



"Jesus blue, that was the same spot as the last one."


"Excuse me, I meant Ball Two."

BU has just ejected the pitcher.

Coach comes on to field and says:

"If you're gonna eject him for that you'll have to eject me, too."


"Your wish is my command coach, you're outta here."

I was partnered with one of my first instructors when he was going through a real rhubarb with a coach. He tried his hardest to keep him in the game. Finally, I heard him say....

"Look Zack, it all comes down to shirts"

The coach looked dazed and said

"What the hell are you talking about?"

My partner explained....

" all comes down to shirts. See, yours is white and mine is blue and between them, only the blue one is going to be here at the end of the game."