Instructional Memo #5

Long Beach Unit Baseball Memo #5

TO: Officials, Coaches, Administrators, Observation Team, Contacts

FROM: Chris Maher, Instructional Chairman, Long Beach Unit

RE: Instructional Memo #5

League play has begun at several of our institutions with others beginning their league schedule shortly. The chase for a league championship and playoff spots are on the line and the intensity will rise. Neighborhood rivalries will be rekindled in some leagues and others will welcome prominent programs from other regions of Southern California. Umpires are to remain professional in all aspects of dealing with authorized personnel (players, coaches and administration) and most of all, be approachable. Approachability is one thing we can all strive to improve on as we move forward this season. A few updates from our observations…

Pitch Counts: A reminder that monitoring pitch counts is the responsibility of the participating teams. The umpires are there to ensure that both teams are exchanging information, but the ultimate responsibility for recording pitch count data is up to the head coach of each team (CIF Blue Book, Article 1501). If the pitch count of a pitcher is in question and a team wishes to protest, then the plate umpire will still lodge the protest and resume the game from that point.

Protests: If a game is played under protest, please note in an email to Sandy Purtle and myself the inning, score, placement of runners, the ruling on the field and the grounds of the protest. I commend those who have done this already and this just serves as a reminder for our umpires.

“Getting the Call Right”: Our observation team is noting several instances where umpires have properly exercised a crew conference. They have handled the situation extremely well as they have identified the situation as one that might require the crew getting together. More importantly, they have rendered the decision quickly and explained the decision in a reasonable manner to the offended head coach when an initial ruling was changed. They have notified a head coach when a conference is initiated: “Coach we will get together, but I need you to return to the dugout (or coaching box).” If a ruling is not changed, that same head coach may not come back out for another explanation or otherwise he will be ejected. Please make sure we are using the term: “Coach, if you come back out to argue this then you will be ejected” as a preventative tool in these situations. We commend those crews who have committed themselves to following this protocol and our coaches who understand our willingness to “Get It Right” while also realizing the accountability measures in place on both ends.

Returning Runners and “The Last Time By:” A returning runner shall retouch the bases in reverse order (8-2-2). If a runner correctly touches a base that was missed (either in advancing or returning), the last time he was by the base, that last touch corrects any previous baserunning infraction (8-2-6L). In a game last week, we had a crew correctly call a runner out on appeal for the 3rd out for failing to retouch 2nd base (he had initially touched 2nd base and was headed for 3rd when the batted ball was first touched by the Centerfielder) on his way back towards 1st base. A runner tagged up from 3rd and scored before the appeal at 2nd was made, thus a time play (8-2-6h). Well handled!

Fair/Foul Decisions: When a batted ball is threatening a foul line (in flight and/or on the ground) umpires should be straddling the line and pointing the direction (fair or foul). Too many times have we seen umpires not using this mechanic on plays that are close. This leads to further uncertainty for coaches and players. Do not get lazy with this mechanic in simple situations, because it will become costly to all involved in more complex situations.

We are 1/3 of the way through the regular season. There is still a lot of baseball to be played. Have we been a good partner? Have we exercised proper mechanics? Have we done what’s right for the game? All things we must ask ourselves as officials after every game. A big thank you to the schools that have asked questions, sent video and commented on our performance so far. Let’s continue to get stronger together!

Chris Maher

Instructional Chairman

(714) 292-6345

Umpire Memo #4 (February 18)

Long Beach Unit Baseball Memo #4

TO: Officials, Coaches, Administrators, Observation Team, Contacts

FROM: Chris Maher, Instructional Chairman, Long Beach Unit

RE: Instructional Memo #4

If there has been one theme so far in the first week of the season and that has been “speed bumps.” Everyone has been so anxious to kick off the regular season, but we have had either a delay or interruption due to inclement weather. Some teams and officials have had the opportunity to begin their season whereas others have yet to do so. The schools have worked very hard to make their fields playable and safe for the student-athletes and we need to continue being flexible with them as game dates, times and locations may change. Please continue to do the things that are right for the game as well as for your partner(s) and the institutions. A few observations from early season action.

Base Coaches: A reminder that all base coaches (player or coach) are required to wear a helmet while occupying a coaches box. There is no such requirement of how many coaches must occupy a coaching box, but if they choose to do so they must wear a protective helmet. A strong recommendation for umpires is to not put the ball in play to start an inning until the base coach(es) have a helmet on. We would rather take the extra 30 seconds or so to have the coach be in compliance before starting a half inning rather than not taking the time and being in the center of a potential safety problem.

Designated Hitter: If a team selects a designated hitter, it must do so prior to the start of the game. If a team fails to do so, then it forfeits the use of the DH (3-1-4). For example, a team that has a declared 9-man lineup (no DH) may not have its starting pitcher (already batting) remain in the game as the DH when he is done pitching and bat for someone else.

“Properly Uniformed”: Thanks to our observation program and social media we have seen instances where our umpires were not wearing appropriate attire on the field. We have all heard my phrase of being “properly uniformed” when working a ball game and that no one can hide from anyone/anything. There have been two situations where umpires have been seen wearing a long-sleeve undershirt underneath a short-sleeve umpire shirt. We have been experiencing some low temperatures so either a jacket or long-sleeve umpire shirt is acceptable. If you don’t have one, then borrow one from your partner or invest some money in the right attire. Our veteran officials also have plenty of used gear for sale so it wouldn’t hurt to reach out to them. One might think this is trivial that we are talking about uniforms, but the bottom line is we need to wear our attire with pride in our work. I can guarantee you each team talks about the importance of wearing their uniform during practices, games, workouts, etc.

Setting Up Angles: We are seeing a number of times where base umpires are moving very little or not at all while in the middle of the diamond. There have been situations where the only play is at 1st base and the base umpire is still on the 3rd base side of the mound. If you aren’t able to cut down the necessary distance from your starting point and where the play is going, then you will not be able to set up the necessary angle to get the play right on non-routine plays.    If we get there right away, we will have an opportunity to adjust as plays break down. 

Interaction With Coaches: Communication is inevitable between umpires, coaches and players. A point in the game will happen where we need to give important information about a ruling to a coach. As long as we stay within the confines of the rule book, we should not have a problem in rendering that explanation. We get into trouble when we start making up our own terms or voluntarily giving more information. Remember “silence cannot be misquoted” and we therefore we must master the phraseology of “by rule” and “In my judgment.”

These memos are sent to various people outside of the umpiring community with the goal of bringing everyone together to understand the game much better. I understand that not everyone who receives these are players, coaches, administrators or even umpires. However, I hope that these serve as an informative tool to help maintain a line of communication between our officials and member schools. It is my pleasure to be of service to you.

Chris Maher

Instructional Chairman

(714) 292-6345




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Welcome to Strong Beach Umpiring!

We welcome officials of all levels to our umpiring website. Our goal is to provide information to our coaches, administrators and umpires for the purpose of improving our knowledge of baseball. Our viewers can come from any location and we hope that everyone is committed to the goal of “Improved Umpiring”

“Leadership is not production, but reproduction. You do not have to be ridiculously talented, just ridiculously committed.”


Instructional Memo #3

Long Beach Unit Baseball Memo #3

TO: Officials, Coaches, Administrators, Observation Team, Contacts

FROM: Chris Maher, Instructional Chairman, Long Beach Unit

RE: Instructional Memo #3

The time has finally come for us to “put the ball in play” on what should be an exciting 2019 high school baseball season. All that hard work in the offseason should come to fruition for all parties involved. Let’s also remember we are a team on the field together and all parties are here together to do what’s best and make the game right. The game is in an excellent state and let’s continue to keep it that way. Here are just a few notes as we get this season rolling.

  • Preparation For Your Contest: We’ve stressed the importance of preparation from a physical and mental standpoint, but this also applies from an administrative aspect. Umpires should be contacting (call or email) the host institution confirming the date, location and time of their scheduled contest at all times. There are a number of our institutions that play games off campus and it is encouraged that we are proactive in finding out this information prior to our arrival. This is also a very important tool when dealing with adverse weather conditions. There are contacts listed in Arbiter for each institution and if a school would like us to add additional contacts, please let me know and we will get them situated.
  • Weather:  With the season now starting earlier, we could be seeing the effects of Mother Nature far more than we have in the past. Communication is vital with your partner(s) and the schools as things can take unexpected turns. The magic hour for schools and officials is 1pm (CIF-SS Blue Book, Article 1221) for verification purposes. There are also games that are being played earlier or Saturday games that have various start times. The official would need to notify the school what time he would need to leave home or workplace in those instances. If the official contacts the host institution, the school verifies the contest and the official is instructed to leave his home or work place followed by the school cancelling the game (weather, unplayable field conditions, etc.), then the official is entitled to 1/2 game fee. If an official does not verify the status of a game and arrives, then he is not entitled to a 1/2 game fee. Please remember to confirm these items with either the Athletic Director, an athletic administrator or head coach in these events and note exactly who was spoken to and when it happened.
  • Between Games of a Doubleheader: This Saturday involves many of our teams playing a doubleheader. After the conclusion of the first game, both umpires need to bring both coaches together to agree on a starting time for Game 2 as well as when the plate meeting is going to happen. For example, “1:30pm start time and plate meeting at 1:25pm.” These timelines are mainly for the teams as this revolves around the starting pitchers “getting hot”
  • Crew Consultation/Getting the Call Right: There are various instances where the crew may be needed to get together to adjudicate the proper ruling or “Get The Call Right.” Some of those instances include, but are not limited to:
    • A swipe tag or pulled foot at any base
    • An out is called with the ball clearly on the ground
    • A balk is erroneously called and the pitcher had stepped off the rubber.
    • A caught third strike, that was ruled uncaught in a situation where a dropped third strike is possible by rule.
    • Possible ground rule double or home run
    • Correcting the count
    • Correcting an award of bases
    • A possible misapplication of a rule
  • When these conferences happen, the head coach must return to his position either in the dugout or in the coaching box. If a ruling is not changed and a head coach comes back out a second time after the crew has conferenced, he is subject to an immediate ejection. Umpires should remind a coach before that point “Coach if you come out after we get together, then you will be ejected.”
  • When a ruling is changed, the offended coach may seek an explanation of such ruling.
  • Balls and Strikes: The prolonged arguing of balls and strikes is prohibited during contests, but as a reminder these are the items that are in reference to “balls and strikes.”
    • The location of a pitch 
    • Check swing
    • When a batter is brought back for permitting a pitch to touch him and is ruled a ball or a strike.

Again, I cannot begin to express my appreciation that our institutions and umpires have for this great game. Please keep us up to date on each of your happenings as we begin the road to the CIF Championships.


Good Luck,

Chris Maher

Instructional Chairman

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