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Ty97

Strike Call

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How did each of you develop the voice projection you use for a strike call? It seems that no one actually says the word “strike” lol, just some low-pitched variation of it. Also do you point for a strike or use the hammer. Thanks!

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I say "Strike 1," "Ball 1," etc. and hammer strikes. Pretty much what we did in the cages at Jimmy's (although my stance has adapted to my advancing age). Works for me.

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Mine evolved thru multiple umpire camps and taking advice from some D1 and major league umpires. I don't annunciate strike, but i do ball. Mine sounds more like a short "HIKE!"

But like he said, do whatever looks good and you are comfortable with, just do it crisply and loud enough.

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Typically HIKE for strike 1

Just two for strike 2

Ball for ball.

Ball 4 just to keep everyone on the same page.

I point for strikes and for strike 3 swinging they get the hammer.

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Mine is a bit more unique, and I'm known for it at the various venues I've called games at, from Cooperstown, NY all the way to The Oven's Gate Phoenix, AZ.

I modeled it after Bruce Froemming (from my hometown) crossed with a hockey goal horn. "sTREEEOOOOOOOOOOOk!" is the best way I can approximate it. I'm a side-shooter in my mechanic (you'll never see a hammer in this hand), and evaluators, trainers, and professional umpires have all given positive (sometimes, glowing) feedback about it. A professional umpire actually pointed out to the fellow camp umpires that "this guy's call is not one we want you doing, but pay attention to his timing and his projection, because he does it really well".

I do call Balls, and vary the volume in accordance to how close. Obvious misses (i.e. to the backstop), there's no reason to say anything. Ball 4 is an enunciated difference, "Ball. Four." There is no pointing or indicating (mechanic) to send the B/BR down to 1B.

Swung strikes are a silent, relaxed side-shoot.

Swung 3K (caught) is a curt out-fist-clench at a 45º in front of me.

3K looking? Oh, those are fun... "sTRIKE! THREE!" accompanies a chainsaw-pull-cord straight back.

EDIT: Reviewing the OP and the answers, part of the question is "How did you develop the voice projection... ?" Well, a few things: 1) I played Flugelhorn, and then Tuba in marching band, 2) I was a catcher in baseball, and I would have to make a great deal of the deployment and relay calls to my teammates, but I was a small kid, so I really had to put everything I had (at the time) into it, 3) I come from a very loud family, 4) it was imparted to me to be definite in your calls.

On that 4th point, so many new umpires lack experience, and therefore, lack the all-crucial timing that is vital to calling Balls and Strikes convincingly. They're sometimes calling "Ball" or "Strike" before the pitch even enters the mitt! And, they're trying to produce this bellowing "STRIKE!" call to suit it. Any evaluator or trainer is going to promptly "bolt" them down and have them stay down and sit on pitches for moments after the ball is in the mitt, then "call it". But then, all that zeal, all that fervor, all that impetus is gone and out comes a weak "strike"(?) (sometimes, you can even hear them questioning it, because they don't want to be wrong in front of all these people). Then, a substantial number of "first few games" are 9U ball, where the little tykes get intimidated by a towering umpire bellowing strikes, even on their swings! So, these umpires get asked by coaches and parents, who are only sitting 8-10 feet away, "Can you dial it down a bit, Blue?"

In my case, I reserved my strike call to just that – called strikes – and just owned it. In fact, I had a coach tell a 9U player, "If you don't want to hear him call that, then start swinging!"; by and large, though, these same 9U (heck, I get it at any age clear through high school) players and fan-friends can be heard imitating my strike call in the dugouts and throughout the park!

So my advice is – be definite, and let that confidence well up from the root of your spine, stand upright and erect, and then... let everyone know it's a strike.

One of our colleagues here ( @KenBAZ knows of him) has an even more signature call than me, one that I cannot hope to eclipse in terms of uniqueness and popularity. It's a "HEEEE-YYYAAAAAAaaaaaaaahhhhh!" and it rolls through a park complex like a tsunami. Ken can tell ya, when that guy and I are on adjacent fields... it's a riot.

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Some umpires around here thought less of my mechanics because I used "strike". Fortunately none of my peers that I respected, had any problem with it. Verbalize it anyway that you want.

I would suggest that you concern yourself more with your timing than your choice of strike pronunciation. Even for season umpires, bad timing can bite you in the arse if you aren't vigilant.

Additional: I hear that at least one pro school requires "strike one", "ball one", etc. verbal strike mechanics. If you want to stay with "best practices" (a good idea), I would recommend these. And if you think about it, this practice makes you look more on top the things and more professional, IMO. 

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5 hours ago, ricka56 said:

Some umpires around here thought less of my mechanics because I used "strike". Fortunately none of my peers that I respected, had any problem with it. Verbalize it anyway that you want.

Really? What a petty thing to judge someone about....but I guess that doesn't surprise me. On the list of top 50 things I'd worry about in regards to someone's mechanics, this is #147.

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