Ask The Umpire


Get quick answers to all your Umpiring Questions from Jim Thompson, a member of the Florida and National High School Hall of Fame

by JCbaseball » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:52 pm


Reviewable plays:
- Deciding if a batted ball is fair or foul. The ball must first touch the ground or a fielder beyond the initial position of the first or third baseman.
- Deciding if a batted ball is either a ground rule double or a home run.
- Any catch or no catch in the outfield or foul territory.
- A call of “no catch” can be changed to “catch” within the infield only if it results in a third out with any runners on base, or any time with a batter-runner only.
- Spectator interference.
- Deciding scoring plays at home plate inclusive of collisions (illegal and/or malicious slides) or time plays.

- A ruling on the field will only be changed if there is indisputable video evidence to reverse the call. Absent that evidence, the original ruling on the field will stand.
- Any use of instant replay must occur before the next pitch or play. If the replay is called for after a game ending play, if must be called before all umpires leave the field of play.
- The crew chief will make the determination to use instant replay. There is no “coach’s challenge.” Under the provisions of Getting the Call Right, coaches have the ability to request a conference among the umpires.
- The video review area must be on the field level so that umpires must not walk through spectators to view the coverage. At least one umpire must remain on the field.
- During the video review the defensive team shall maintain their position on the field and may warm-up if desired. Offensive base runners and the on-deck hitter shall maintain their position. Other personnel shall remain in the dugout. Any defensive or offensive conferences will be charged as during any other part of the game.
- All equipment should be tested by appropriate personnel before each game.
- The final decision may not be argued by either coach.
- If the reversing of a call results in the need for decisions on the placement of base runners, the crew chief shall use his best judgment to determine their locations as if the call had been made correctly (with exception to placement prescribed by rule on catch/no catch reversals).
- If a call has been changed, the crew chief, upon returning to the field, will notify both head coaches and the official scorer of the ruling before signaling the decision to the press box or crowd. Once the notification is made to the coach, the calling umpire will signal the final decision. This provides the coach an explanation prior to an announcement after the umpires have used replay review. The procedure also applies if a call is changed as a result of an umpire conference without video review.
Official Warning. To improve communication between umpires and coaches and avoid misunderstandings, there is now an “Official Warning” which carries the words, “This is your official warning. If you continue, you will leave me no option but to eject you.” Saying, “Knock it off,” “That’s enough,” “Don’t say anything else,” or, “I’ve heard enough,” doesn’t constitute an official warning (2-57).

Coach ejection. When the head coach has been ejected and is replaced by a substitute head coach, the substitute head coach has all the duties, rights and responsibilities accorded to the original head coach. However, should the substitute head coach be ejected, he must serve a one-game suspension in addition to his ejection (2-26 AR 6, 3-1).

Illegal bats. The assessment of the penalty for use of an illegal bat has been moved up to apply as soon as the batter steps into the box instead of after the first pitch If the umpire can determine that a bat is illegal before the first pitch of an at bat, the hitter is called out and the bat is removed from the game. If the illegal is discovered after a batted ball, base runners must also return to the base they occupied before the ball was put in play. In all cases, the bat is taken out of the game (1-12d). Also, external attachments, either created as part of the manufacturer’s product line or fabricated by a third party, may not be used (1-12c).

Obstruction. An Approved Ruling was added to the definition of obstruction. In the event of a wild throw during a steal attempt, if the ball is misplayed by the fielder and if the runner and fielder get tangled up, it is not obstruction unless there is further hindrance after the initial contact (2-55 AR 5).
Game Ending Play. A long-standing interpretation has been documented. When the winning run is scored in the last half-inning of a regulation game, or in the last half inning of an extra inning, as the result of a base on balls, hit batter or any other play with the bases loaded which forces the batter and all other runners to advance without liability of being put out, only the batter-runner and the runner on third need to advance to advance to end the game. The umpires are not to declare the game ended until that happens. An exception will be made if fans rush onto the field and physically prevent the runner from touching home plate or the batter-runner from touching first base. In such cases, the umpires shall award the runner the necessary bases with no appeal allowed (5-8.d). In effect this is an exception to 8-1a.
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