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Chris1015

Catcher not in control of mask

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Chris1015    1

New here, second post. Wondering how I handled the situation or if it's happened to anyone else.

Final day of an 11U tournament of bad baseball. Games maxed out time limits, barely playing 4 innings, etc.

F2 doesn't understand how to remove his mask properly when the ball is put in play. He "flings" it off instead of removing it and holding it or tossing it aside the proper way. The way I deal with this is by picking up the mask, hand it to the catcher, but before I let go I explain "you need to be careful taking your mask off, you hit me/are coming close to hitting me." Usually it's over and done with then. The next time it happens I'm more stern, "you need to remove your mask more carefully, this time it hit me." Third time it happens..."if you take your mask off that way again I'm going to remove you from the game". 

Just to qualify, I have been hit before in the face once my first year and plenty of times after that. So it is an issue that I do see and I'm sick of it.

Naturally, F2 goes to the dugout and tells dad. Dad comes out the next half inning and is perplexed at how I'm going to eject his son for this. I explain I've told him 3 times what he is doing and what I expect. I've been hit before and he's hit me today. He tells me, "man up". Ran him for that. 

Does this happen to others? Do I have a case here and am I handling this properly? I feel if it's between me getting a busted nose or broken Oakleys (happened first year) and a catcher riding pine, he's taking a seat for the game.

 

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umpstu    689

Try and keep your mask on until the catcher throws or drops his.  That way your face is covered. Not so sure I would have threatened an 11 year old catcher for throwing his mask.  It's not as if it were a bat.

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Richvee    1,724

Not sure how/when this is happening. On batted balls? If so, clear the catcher before taking off your mask. You should be moving out from behind the plate on batted balls. If there's runners on 2nd and/or 3rd and you need to stay at the plate, keep the mask on until you back up a step.

There's no rule you can cite to justify an EJ for F2 throwing his mask off.

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ElkOil    694

You really don't have a leg to stand on for disciplining the catcher. Also sounds like you may have jumped the gun EJ'ing the dad because I think he was right. You should man up. No one's going to be "riding the pine." :blink: You're wearing a lot of protective gear for a reason, so use it like it was meant to be used and let it protect you. You said in your post that you're "sick" of getting hit in the face since it happens so many times. Personally, I've never been hit by a catcher discarding his mask, so I'm not sure why you're experiencing so many incidents. Perhaps you're a mask magnet. At any rate, don't let what seems to be a personal issue get the better of you and look for reasons to over officiate. Yes, it's good to mention it to the catcher and maybe the coach, but don't make it about you when you do, and don't get upset if things don't get better. These kids are only 11, and as you said, they play pretty bad baseball.

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umpstu    689
43 minutes ago, ElkOil said:

You really don't have a leg to stand on for disciplining the catcher. Also sounds like you may have jumped the gun EJ'ing the dad because I think he was right. You should man up. No one's going to be "riding the pine." :blink: You're wearing a lot of protective gear for a reason, so use it like it was meant to be used and let it protect you. You said in your post that you're "sick" of getting hit in the face since it happens so many times. Personally, I've never been hit by a catcher discarding his mask, so I'm not sure why you're experiencing so many incidents. Perhaps you're a mask magnet. At any rate, don't let what seems to be a personal issue get the better of you and look for reasons to over officiate. Yes, it's good to mention it to the catcher and maybe the coach, but don't make it about you when you do, and don't get upset if things don't get better. These kids are only 11, and as you said, they play pretty bad baseball.

22nd year as an umpire and I've never been hit anywhere near the face by a catcher thrown mask.

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maineump    349
5 hours ago, Chris1015 said:

New here, second post. Wondering how I handled the situation or if it's happened to anyone else.

Final day of an 11U tournament of bad baseball. Games maxed out time limits, barely playing 4 innings, etc.

F2 doesn't understand how to remove his mask properly when the ball is put in play. He "flings" it off instead of removing it and holding it or tossing it aside the proper way. The way I deal with this is by picking up the mask, hand it to the catcher, but before I let go I explain "you need to be careful taking your mask off, you hit me/are coming close to hitting me." Usually it's over and done with then. The next time it happens I'm more stern, "you need to remove your mask more carefully, this time it hit me." Third time it happens..."if you take your mask off that way again I'm going to remove you from the game". 

Just to qualify, I have been hit before in the face once my first year and plenty of times after that. So it is an issue that I do see and I'm sick of it.

Naturally, F2 goes to the dugout and tells dad. Dad comes out the next half inning and is perplexed at how I'm going to eject his son for this. I explain I've told him 3 times what he is doing and what I expect. I've been hit before and he's hit me today. He tells me, "man up". Ran him for that. 

Does this happen to others? Do I have a case here and am I handling this properly? I feel if it's between me getting a busted nose or broken Oakleys (happened first year) and a catcher riding pine, he's taking a seat for the game.

 

Young catchers are told to get rid of the mask immediately by coaches - that means they are just flipping them off their heads (until they learn).

As stated above, keep YOUR mask on until you clear the catcher, or he clears you. There is no way to warn or eject a catcher for hitting you with the mask - it is just part of the game. The coach telling you to man-up is not an excuse to eject either, unless it went beyond those words.

Don't take this as 'putting you down' - make it a learning experience. There will be things that you don't like during a game (we all have them), but if there is no rule or tradition to govern it, we have to suck it up.

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Aging_Arbiter    612
6 hours ago, Chris1015 said:

New here, second post. Wondering how I handled the situation or if it's happened to anyone else.

Final day of an 11U tournament of bad baseball. Games maxed out time limits, barely playing 4 innings, etc.

F2 doesn't understand how to remove his mask properly when the ball is put in play. He "flings" it off instead of removing it and holding it or tossing it aside the proper way. The way I deal with this is by picking up the mask, hand it to the catcher, but before I let go I explain "you need to be careful taking your mask off, you hit me/are coming close to hitting me." Usually it's over and done with then. The next time it happens I'm more stern, "you need to remove your mask more carefully, this time it hit me." Third time it happens..."if you take your mask off that way again I'm going to remove you from the game". 

Just to qualify, I have been hit before in the face once my first year and plenty of times after that. So it is an issue that I do see and I'm sick of it.

Naturally, F2 goes to the dugout and tells dad. Dad comes out the next half inning and is perplexed at how I'm going to eject his son for this. I explain I've told him 3 times what he is doing and what I expect. I've been hit before and he's hit me today. He tells me, "man up". Ran him for that. 

Does this happen to others? Do I have a case here and am I handling this properly? I feel if it's between me getting a busted nose or broken Oakleys (happened first year) and a catcher riding pine, he's taking a seat for the game.

 

Image result for he hate me jersey

Don't get your feelings hurt.  These guys are right.  Can't get hit in the nose or busted Oakley's if you keep your mask on.

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Scotty_Ump    29
8 hours ago, Chris1015 said:

F2 doesn't understand how to remove his mask properly when the ball is put in play. He "flings" it off instead of removing it and holding it or tossing it aside the proper way.

I'm assuming this 11U catcher is wearing a hockey style mask? Or at least a mask attached by snaps to a helmet? We're not talking about a mask strapped over a skull cap here.

Maybe it's a HTBT sitch, but how does an 11U catcher fling off a HSM with enough velocity to hit an umpire in the face - multiple times? :HS

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Chris1015    1
9 hours ago, umpstu said:

Try and keep your mask on until the catcher throws or drops his.  That way your face is covered. Not so sure I would have threatened an 11 year old catcher for throwing his mask.  It's not as if it were a bat.

I'll keep it on longer in these situations, thank you

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LRZ    122

Setting aside the mask issue, a coach telling me to "man up" might miss the rest of the game.

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BrianC14    422
1 minute ago, LRZ said:

Setting aside the mask issue, a coach telling me to "man up" might miss the rest of the game.

I agree.   I don't care if an umpire is 16 years old or 96 years old, there's no call for that.   There is no room for "one free shot" without some consequences.  "We're done here, or you're done here" might find it's way into the 'verbal judo'.

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Stk004    599

So why is this different than a batter throwing his bat at F2 time and time again, or a catcher throwing his mask and hitting a BR time and time again, even if they're accidental yet repeated incidents? 

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stl_ump    90
5 hours ago, Stk004 said:

So why is this different than a batter throwing his bat at F2 time and time again, or a catcher throwing his mask and hitting a BR time and time again, even if they're accidental yet repeated incidents? 

A bat is a club... A mask is... well just a mask.  I don't think anyone is going to get knocked silly by an 11u kid tossing a mask.

And as the poster said, this is bad, 11u baseball.  It happens. A lot.  I work a lot of those bad baseball games when I work with 1st year umpires.   It goes with the territory.

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Ironman    1

This issue would have been foreign to me until a H.S. game this past year.  Someone had beaten in to this catchers head that he needed to get his mask off immediately for anything and everything (ball in the dirt, past balls, pop ups, fly balls, etc. etc.).  He wore his mask very very lose.  He would flip it straight back with his throwing hand, and he was fast with it.  I must have got hit in my face mask or chest more than 10 times.  It was very distracting and NOT called for at all.  I did "man up" and didn't say anything, but at some this issue needs to be dealt with.  I did mention that he was killing me with him mask, but that had no impact.  Since I didn't know what rule to apply or action I could justify, I bit my lip at the time.  I felt like I just pasted it on to the next guy behind the plate.  To be honest, it was one of the most weird experience I've had.

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Richvee    1,724
1 hour ago, Ironman said:

This issue would have been foreign to me until a H.S. game this past year.  Someone had beaten in to this catchers head that he needed to get his mask off immediately for anything and everything (ball in the dirt, past balls, pop ups, fly balls, etc. etc.).  He wore his mask very very lose.  He would flip it straight back with his throwing hand, and he was fast with it.  I must have got hit in my face mask or chest more than 10 times.  It was very distracting and NOT called for at all.  I did "man up" and didn't say anything, but at some this issue needs to be dealt with.  I did mention that he was killing me with him mask, but that had no impact.  Since I didn't know what rule to apply or action I could justify, I bit my lip at the time.  I felt like I just pasted it on to the next guy behind the plate.  To be honest, it was one of the most weird experience I've had.

So you did let him know he was hitting you every time flipped the mask and got no response or improvement? I hope he wasn't expecting any close pitches to go his way the rest of the day....

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beerguy55    180
On 6/21/2017 at 10:20 PM, Chris1015 said:

New here, second post. Wondering how I handled the situation or if it's happened to anyone else.

Final day of an 11U tournament of bad baseball. Games maxed out time limits, barely playing 4 innings, etc.

F2 doesn't understand how to remove his mask properly when the ball is put in play. He "flings" it off instead of removing it and holding it or tossing it aside the proper way. The way I deal with this is by picking up the mask, hand it to the catcher, but before I let go I explain "you need to be careful taking your mask off, you hit me/are coming close to hitting me." Usually it's over and done with then. The next time it happens I'm more stern, "you need to remove your mask more carefully, this time it hit me." Third time it happens..."if you take your mask off that way again I'm going to remove you from the game". 

Just to qualify, I have been hit before in the face once my first year and plenty of times after that. So it is an issue that I do see and I'm sick of it.

Naturally, F2 goes to the dugout and tells dad. Dad comes out the next half inning and is perplexed at how I'm going to eject his son for this. I explain I've told him 3 times what he is doing and what I expect. I've been hit before and he's hit me today. He tells me, "man up". Ran him for that. 

Does this happen to others? Do I have a case here and am I handling this properly? I feel if it's between me getting a busted nose or broken Oakleys (happened first year) and a catcher riding pine, he's taking a seat for the game.

 

This becomes a bigger conversation between umpire associations, baseball associations, and coaching training associations.

For decades many catchers have been taught to THROW, not drop, their masks, to ensure they don't trip on them when making a play....I remember watching a "tip of the week" segment on This Week in Baseball in the mid 80's on this very thing.

If you get a consensus within your own umpire association that this behavior needs to change, then that has to be communicated to all the stakeholders so they can, if necessary, change what they are teaching their kids....and undoing years of conditioning will never be easy.

If a coach is reacting in a certain way to this kind of statement/request from the umpire, there's a good chance he's never ever seen another umpire do this before - and if you take that at face value you need to assess why that is.

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jjb    151

It's just an annoyance, getting hit in the arms, legs, (never got hit in the face, however).

Here's what I did; when he'd continue to flip the thing backwards and hit me, and as he's throwing, collecting the ball, etc, I'd pick it up "to get it out of the way". Then, I'd toss it (also to "get it out of the way") as far as I could toss it. Eventually, he'd get tired of trying to find it and walking over to get it, (I'd never throw it in the same direction twice), he'd complain, and  I'd tell him "then stop hitting me with it". Usually worked....

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Umpire in Chief    1,370

@Chris1015 Just chalk this up to a learning experience. This is one of those situations we may not like, but there is nothing we can do about it. But like Umpstu said, just be sure to keep your mask on until he's removed his. 

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Chris1015    1

Edit: these responses are awesome. I appreciate them all. It is some what of a HTBT moment I guess. This has been a learning experience. I have to admit, looking back on it. My ego got in the way as well as ignorance. I didn't realize that this was not an eject-able situation. If I did, I would have not threatened with ejection. I think some are confused though. This player discarded his mask forcefully and frequently. Foul balls that went well out of play, ground balls, fly balls, anytime. I could be moving up the line and away and the mask is being thrown my way. It was not safe and not always predictable either. I would say 99% of the time the mask was dislodged at the crack of the bat, before I or anyone for that matter could move. Not a correct practice for a catcher. 

Should it happen again,  I would likely still request him to stop hitting me with it and I wouldn't warn an ejection. I thought I was in the right to warn an ejection because I needed a solution, wrong. This was a problem, whether some believe an 11 year old's mask exit velocity is or is not a problem and was distracting. I'm not going to give this coach's player a lesson, which is where the potential player ejection came in to play in my mind to the solution. I do not agree that the coach had any business in telling me to "man up." I don't care, I'm ejecting for derogatory comments like that.  

However, I'm going to play this card here for just a minute. I played baseball in both the NJCAA as well as the NCAA for my 4 years. This is also my 10th season umpiring. If an umpire told me while I was catching to not discard my mask at the crack of the bat behind me because it is distracting him I would be happy to oblige on first request because he is the umpire and I am the player. Just as if I'm umpiring in the field and the shortstop asks me to move left or right. Its a simple and easy request to accommodate. We both have jobs to do. I do not feel like I was requesting this player to do something that is going to in anyway hinder his performance, much to why I requested it and will likely request in the future.

If you watch plays at the plate nightly at the professional level, guys keep their masks on. If a pop up goes up and behind the plate, take the mask off, find the ball, move to the ball, get rid of the mask, catch the ball. That's how its done. No one is getting hit that way. The mask doesn't immediately need to be discarded to function and retrieve a baseball. I'm not out there to teach, I'm there to call a game and I understand that. The coach can do that, even if its wrong, and that was a wrong practice. I don't believe I'm holding these daddy ball teams up to a college or professional standard but I don't believe in teaching when I umpire.

Throwing equipment can't be tolerated when it could be done much more efficiently. There was no point to what this player was doing. Its just bad instruction and maybe I'll change my name to Ego1015.

For the guys who seem to be wondering how a mask discarded by an 11 year old could possibly not hurt, my advice is maybe go in your garage and gently "toss it" at different parts of your anatomy. Try the inner part of your wrist or your hands. Metal is metal to me and it doesn't feel to nice to be hit with at any rate of speed.

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JSam21    113

Move... Stay clear of the throwing side of the catcher and don't look up at the ball. Just watch the catcher. I've never been hit with a mask. 

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rzanew    0

Would anyone invoke 8.01 (b) here?

Quote

(b) Each umpire is the representative of the league and of professional baseball, and is authorized and required to enforce all of these rules. Each umpire has authority to order a player, coach, manager or club officer or employee to do or refrain from doing anything which affects the administering of these rules, and to enforce the prescribed penalties

If the flying mask/helmet interferes with your ability to work the game, then you could be justified in removing the catcher from the game.

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Did you consider having an 'off-the record' chat with his coach between innings?

"Hey Skip, can you work with Joey on the way he removes his mask?  He's killing me back there."

Unless coach is a total douchebag, he'll probably cooperate. 

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