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Baseball umpire 2004

Home plate umpire Gary Darling signals that the last pitch was a strike

In baseball, the umpire is the person charged with officiating the game, including beginning and ending the game, enforcing the rules of the game and the grounds, making judgment calls on plays, and meting out discipline. The term is often shortened to the colloquial form ump. They are also addressed as blue due to the colour of the uniform some umpires wear. (On the professional level, umpires generally disdain being called "blue", preferring instead to be called by their name; especially considering the fact that MLB umpires no longer wear blue) Although games were often officiated by a sole umpire in the formative years of the sport, from the turn of the 20th century onward officiating has been commonly divided among several umpires, who form the umpiring crew.

Duties and positions[]

In a baseball game officiated by two or more umpires, the plate umpire is the umpire who is positioned behind home plate. This umpire calls balls and strikes, calls fair balls and foul balls short of first/third base, and makes most calls concerning the batter or concerning baserunners near home plate. If another umpire leaves the infield to cover a potential play in foul ground or in the outfield, then the plate umpire may move to cover a potential play near second or third base. The plate umpire is also called the umpire-in-chief (not to be confused with "crew chief", who is often a different umpire). Traditionally, an umpiring crew rotates such that each umpire in the crew works each position, including plate umpire, an equal number of games. On the Major League level, an umpiring crew generally rotates positions clockwise each game; for example, the plate umpire in one game would umpire third base in the next.

The other umpires are called base umpires, as they are commonly stationed near the bases. (Field umpire is an incorrect term for any position.) When two umpires are used, the second umpire is simply the base umpire. This umpire will make most calls concerning runners on the bases and nearby plays, as well as in the middle of the outfield. When three umpires are used, the second umpire is called the first base umpire and the third umpire is called the third base umpire, even though the various umpires may move to different positions on the field as the play demands. When four umpires are used, each umpire is named after the base they are stationed near. Sometimes a league will provide six umpires; then, two are stationed in the outfield and then may be called outfield umpires. In Major League Baseball, outfield umpires are only used during the playoffs and the All-Star Game, when they are stationed in foul territory on both sides, and are thus known as the left- and right-field umpires. Rulings on catches of batted balls are usually made by the umpire closest to the play.

The term umpire-in-chief is not to be confused with the umpiring crew chief or crew chief, who is usually the most experienced umpire in a crew. On the major league and high minor league level (Class AA and AAA), the crew-chief acts as a liaison between the league office and the crew and has a supervisory role over other members of the crew.

For example, on the Major League level, "[t]he Crew Chief shall coordinate and direct his crew's compliance with the Office of the Commissioner's rules and policies. Other Crew Chief responsibilities include: leading periodic discussions and reviews of situations, plays and rules with his crew; generally directing the work of the other umpires on the crew, with particular emphasis on uniformity in dealing with unique situations; assigning responsibilities for maintaining time limits during the game; ensuring the timely filing of all required crew reports for incidents such as ejections, brawls and protested games; and reporting to the Office of Commissioner any irregularity in field conditions at any ballpark." [1] Thus, on the professional level, some of the duties assigned to the umpire-in-chief (the plate umpire) in the Official Baseball Rules have been reassigned to the crew chief, regardless of the crew chief's umpiring position.

Unlike referees in American football, an umpire's judgment call is final, unless the umpire making the call chooses to ask his partner(s) for help and then decides to reverse it after the discussion. For some calls, including balls and strikes, no reversal is possible. If an umpire seems to make an error in rule interpretation, his call, in some leagues, can be officially protested. If the umpire is persistent in his or her interpretation, the matter will be settled at a later time by a league official. Such protests are seldom upheld; indeed, in most cases of protest, the umpire's interpretation is found to be correct.

Amateur umpiring[]

An amateur umpire is an umpire who officiates amateur baseball. Some amateur umpires are paid and thus might be considered professionals but the term "amateur" refers to the level of baseball officiated, not the status of the umpire (according to the Little League Baseball/Softball rule book, umpires should be volunteers and not be paid). Umpires are responsible for ensuring that all players, coaches, and fans conduct themselves in a sportsmanlike manner, and that the game's focus is on playing, rather than on personal matters or "bad blood" between opposing teams. Each umpire has the authority to eject any player, manager, or coach from the premises in order to insure the integrity of the game. In some cases, they have authority over the spectators as well. There are numerous organizations that train/test anyone interested in umpiring for local leagues and can help make connections to the leagues in the area. Little League and Babe Ruth Baseball are two of the most popular organizations when it comes to youth baseball and each have their own application, test, and training process for becoming an umpire.In Canada many municipalities run their own amateur baseball leagues for children and hire umpires. The pinnacle of amateur umpiring is the Little League World Series. Amateur umpires from around the world participate in this event on a completely volunteer basis. However, to get to this point umpires must go participate at various levels of All-Star tournaments ranging from district to regional to state tournaments.

Professional umpiring[]

Becoming a Major League Baseball (North America) umpire is a long and tough road, with very low odds of success. First, a person desiring to become a professional umpire must attend one of two private umpiring schools authorized by Major League Baseball: The Jim Evans Umpire Academy or The Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School. Both schools are run by former Major League umpires and are located in Florida. There are no prerequisites for attending these schools, however, there is an Umpire Camp, run by Major League Baseball, that would be a great tool for the success at either of these schools. They offer two one week sessions in November in Southern California and the top students are eligible to earn scholarhips to either of the professional umpire schools in Florida.

After five weeks of training, each school sends its top students to the Professional Baseball Umpires Corp. (PBUC) evaluation course also held in Florida. The actual number of students sent on to the evaluation course is determined by PBUC and not the umpire schools. Generally, the top 10 to 20 percent of each school's graduating class advance. The evaluation course is conducted by PBUC staff, which differs in personnel from the staff at the respective umpire schools. The evaluation course generally lasts around 10 days. Depending on the number of available positions in the various minor leagues, some (but not all) of the evaluation course attendees will be assigned to a low level minor league.

Professional umpires begin their careers in a Class "A" league, which is divided into four levels (rookie, short-season, long-season and advanced "A"). Top umpiring prospects will often begin their careers in a short-season "A" league (for example, the New York-Penn League), but most will begin in a rookie league (for example, the Gulf Coast League).

Throughout the season all minor league umpires in Class A and Class AA are evaluated by members of the PBUC staff. All umpires receive a detailed written evaluation of their performance after every season. In addition, all umpires, except those in the rookie or short "A" leagues, receive written mid-season evaluations.

Generally, an umpire is regarded as making adequate progress "up the ranks" if he advances up one level of Class "A" ball each year (thus earning promotion to Class AA after three to four years) and promotion to Class AAA after two to three years on the Class AA level. However, this is a very rough estimate and other factors not discussed (such as a lack of or overwhelming number of retirements at higher levels) may dramatically affect these estimates. For example, many umpires saw rapid advancement in 1999 due to the mass resignation of many Major League umpires as a collective bargaining ploy.

When promoted to the Class AAA level, an umpire's evaluation will also be conducted by the umpiring supervisory staff of Major League Baseball. In recent years, top AAA prospects, in addition to umpiring and being evaluated during the regular season (in either the International or Pacific Coast League) have been required to umpire in the Arizona Fall League where they receive extensive training and evaluation by Major League Baseball staff.

In addition, top AAA prospects may also be rewarded with umpiring only Major League pre-season games during spring training (in lieu of Class AAA games). Finally, the very top prospects may umpire Major League regular season games on a limited basis as "fill-in" umpires (where the Class AAA umpire replaces a sick, injured or vacationing Major League umpire).

Finally, upon the retirement (or firing) of a Major League umpire, a top Class AAA umpire will be promoted to Major League Baseball's permanent umpire staff. During this entire process, if an umpire is evaluated as no longer being a major-league prospect, he (or she) will be released, ending their professional career.

Famous umpires[]

Hall of Fame[]

Umpires are eligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame for their accomplishments, and nine umpires have been far elected:

  • Al Barlick (NL, 1940-43, 1946-55, 1958-71) 1989
  • Nestor Chylak (AL, 1954-78) 1998
  • Jocko Conlan (NL, 1941-65) (Umpired 15 NL games in 1965) (AL, 1935 (2 games)) 1974
  • Tommy Connolly (NL, 1898-1900; AL, 1901-32) (umpired 1 AL game in 1932) 1953
  • Billy Evans (AL, 1906-27) 1973
  • Cal Hubbard (AL, 1936-51) 1976
  • Bill Klem (NL, 1905-41) 1953
  • Bill McGowan (AL, 1925-54) 1992
  • Doug Harvey (NL, 1962-92) election announced 12/7/2009.

Longest major league careers[]

Most games

  • 5,368 - Bill Klem
  • 5,029 - Bruce Froemming
  • 4,768 - Tommy Connolly
  • 4,670 - Doug Harvey
  • 4,505 - Joe Brinkman

(Through end of 2006 season, reference is David Vincent,, see also

Most seasons

Careers beginning prior to 1920:

  • 37 - Bill Klem (NL, 1905-41)
  • 35 - Bob Emslie (AA, 1890; NL, 1891-1924)
  • 35Tommy Connolly (NL, 1898-1900; AL, 1901-32) (umpired 1 AL game in 1932)
  • 30 - Hank O'Day (NL, 1895, 1897-1911, 1913, 1915-27)
  • 29 - Bill Dinneen (AL, 1909-37)
  • 29 - Cy Rigler (NL, 1906-22, 1924-35)
  • 25 - Brick Owens (NL, 1908, 1912-13; AL, 1916-37)
  • 25 - Ernie Quigley (NL, 1913-37)

Careers beginning from 1920 to 1960:

  • 30 - Bill McGowan (AL, 1925-54)
  • 28 - Al Barlick (NL, 1940-43, 1946-55, 1958-71)
  • 27 - Bill Summers (AL, 1933-59)
  • 27 - Tom Gorman (NL, 1951-77) (umpired 3 NL games in 1977)
  • 25 - Nestor Chylak (AL, 1954-78)
  • 25 - Jim Honochick (AL, 1949-73)
  • 22 - Babe Pinelli (NL, 1935-56)

Careers beginning since 1960:

  • 37 - Bruce Froemming (NL, 1971-99; MLB, 2000-07 )
  • 34 - Joe Brinkman (AL, 1973-99; MLB, 2000-06)
  • 33 - Ed Montague (NL, 1974-99; MLB, 2000- )
  • 33 - Harry Wendelstedt (NL, 1966-98)
  • 32 - Larry Barnett (AL, 1968-99)
  • 32 - Jerry Crawford (NL, 1975-99; MLB, 2000- )
  • 31 - Don Denkinger (AL, 1968-98)
  • 31 - Doug Harvey (NL, 1962-92)


Other noteworthy umpires have included:

  • Emmett Ashford (AL, 1966-70), first black umpire in Major League Baseball
  • Augie Donatelli (NL, 1950-73)
  • Jim Evans (AL, 1971-99)
  • John Gaffney (NL, 1884-86, 1891-94, 1899-1900; AA, 1888-89; PL, 1890)
  • Bernice Gera (NAPBL, 1972-72), first female umpire in professional baseball
  • Tim Hurst (NL, 1891-97, 1900, 1903; AL, 1905-1909)
  • Ron Luciano (AL, 1968-80)
  • Tim McClelland (AL, 1984-99; MLB, 2000- )
  • John McSherry (NL, 1971-96)
  • Jake O'Donnell (Al, 1968-71) (also an NBA official from 1967-95; is the only person to officiate both MLB and NBA all-star game)
  • Silk O'Loughlin (AL, 1902-18)
  • Beans Reardon (NL, 1926-49)
  • Jack Sheridan (PL, 1890; NL, 1892, 1896-97; AL, 1901-14)

2006 umpiring crews[]

These are the crews of umpires for the 2006 MLB season, as listed by major league baseball. Crews frequently change over the course of the year as umpires are sometimes detached from their crew (so they do not work in their home city), or are injured.[1]

Crew Crew Chief Umpire 2 Umpire 3 Umpire 4
Crew A 30 Randy Marsh 55 Angel Hernandez 21 Hunter Wendelstedt 34 Sam Holbrook
Crew B 28 Larry Young 29 Bill Hohn 57 Mike Everitt 72 Alfonso Marquez
Crew C 31 Mike Reilly 8 Jeff Kellogg 41 Jerry Meals 49 Andy Fletcher
Crew D 18 Charlie Reliford 27 Larry Vanover 53 Greg Gibson 96 Paul Nauert
Crew E 3 Tim Welke 38 Gary Cederstrom 44 Kerwin Danley 77 Jim Reynolds
Crew F 37 Gary Darling 39 Larry Poncino 1 Bruce Dreckman 16 Mike DiMuro
Crew G 32 Dana DeMuth 66 Jim Joyce 43 Paul Schrieber 88 Doug Eddings
Crew H 11 Ed Montague 24 Jerry Layne 47 Mark Wegner 51 Marvin Hudson
Crew I 23 Rick Reed 4 Tim Tschida 65 Ted Barrett 63 Laz Diaz
Crew J 6 Bruce Froemming 33 Mike Winters 71 Brian Runge 50 Paul Emmel
Crew K 15 Joe Brinkman 13 Derryl Cousins 45 Jeff Nelson 95 Tim Timmons
Crew L 2 Jerry Crawford 14 Chuck Meriwether 7 Brian O'Nora 10 Phil Cuzzi
Crew M 12 Gerry Davis 9 Brian Gorman 56 Eric Cooper 26 Bill Miller
Crew N 36 Tim McClelland 25 Fieldin Culbreth 60 Marty Foster 52 Bill Welke
Crew O 17 John Hirschbeck 35 Wally Bell 54 C.B. Bucknor 48 Mark Carlson
Crew P 22 Joe West 19 Ed Rapuano 59 Tony Randazzo 78 Jim Wolf
Crew Q 5 Dale Scott 46 Ron Kulpa 58 Dan Iassogna 67 Lance Barksdale

For other umpires, see Category:Baseball umpires and List of baseball umpires

Origin of the word "umpire"[]

According to the Middle English Dictionary entry for noumpere, the predecessor of umpire, which came from the Old French nonper (from non, "not" + per, "equal") meaning "one who is requested to act as arbiter of a dispute between two people"--meaning that the arbiter is not paired with anyone in the dispute.

In Middle English, the earliest form of this shows up as noumper around 1350, and the earliest version without the n shows up as owmpere, a variant spelling in Middle English, circa 1440.

The n was lost after it was written (in 1426-1427) as a noounpier with the a being the indefinite article. The leading n became attached to the article, changing it to an Oumper around 1475; this sort of linguistic shift is called junctural metanalysis. Thus today we say "an umpire" instead of "a numpire."

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