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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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We have a kid (and by kid I mean he is in his early 20s) in my area that says "strike one", "ball one", etc. It is for sure odd to hear it since we are more used o the normal ways of doing it ("ha", "hee", "hee-ha", etc).

But when asked for ways he can improve and such... this never even entered my mind.

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I'm guessing I'm a bit more neurotic on this than many. I see the quality of strike calls, mechanics, and yes... ball calls as integral to preventative game management. 

Crisp, strong, authoritative, and maybe even LOUD verbals and accompanying mechanics lend to confidence, certainty, and stability, which in my experience, decrease issues. 

When we talk about MLB umps, or a 20 year D1 umpire, it may not be as essential for them, as they've developed impeccable credibility in many cases. But for guys who haven't, strong plate work, including calling balls and strikes (which begins with great timing that results from proper use of the eyes) accomplishes the same thing, but with greater impact than having a clean, crisp uniform and personal appearance. 

So it matters, and it CAN hold you back. Thus it is worthy of practice and experimentation until you get it so that it's right for YOU, and works to help you accomplish strong game management. 

At the risk of sounding arrogant, one of the first things my evaluator said to me at my collegiate tryout was 'That's how you call a strike! Well done!'. That proved to me at that moment how important this is. 

Also important to note, is the importance of calling balls properly, with good timing, strong verbals, from the crouch, especially on close ones, maybe even 'verbally mapping' to indicate you know WHY it was not a strike. Many very experienced umps don't like this, they say 'it's a ball because I said it was a ball, so there's no need to explain it...', but again, an excellent preventative game management technique is letting them know WHY, i.e... a firm and clear - 'BALL... it's outside'... again, only on close ones that are not obvious, and NO physical/hand mechanics. Now coaches have no need to ask their catcher, or make any comments, they have all they need to know. 

Likewise punchouts (called 3rd strikes), should be athletic and authoritative with a confident verbal and coordinated mechanic that doesn't make you seem embarrassed at what you just did. You'll know if you fidgit around afterwards whether or not you are comfortable with your punchout. If you fidgit, or short step around a bit, you should re-evaluate, you may not be comfortable with it. When you're through with the call, stand still, in certainty that you got it right, looking where you need to be looking( not at the ground, the batter, or the coach) and move on. 

In summary, all of this plate demeanor stuff is vital and should be given highest consideration. 

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My strike call comes out as HRIKE!....and it comes from the diaphragm rather than the throat.........I hammer strikes 1-3.... strike 3 is just 3 with a slight drop step and the chainsaw.....

I do not make a big deal of 3..........loud, definitive, ? yes.......but not over the top........they know they struck out, the benches know, the hot dog vendor knows........I just confirm it.

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4 hours ago, Stan W. said:

My strike call comes out as HRIKE!....and it comes from the diaphragm rather than the throat.........I hammer strikes 1-3.... strike 3 is just 3 with a slight drop step and the chainsaw.....

I do not make a big deal of 3..........loud, definitive, ? yes.......but not over the top........they know they struck out, the benches know, the hot dog vendor knows........I just confirm it.

Then there's the batter that gives you the :WTF look after you ring him up on what you thought was an obvious strike three. :shrug:

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On 2/21/2018 at 11:56 AM, kstrunk said:

At the risk of sounding arrogant, one of the first things my evaluator said to me at my collegiate tryout was 'That's how you call a strike! Well done!'. That proved to me at that moment how important this is.

Your call might be good, but at 3-months after the fact, your timing is t-o-o s-l-o-w.

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On 9/27/2017 at 3:27 PM, MadMax said:

There is no pointing or indicating (mechanic) to send the B/BR down to 1B.

 

 

 

That is a definite downgrade on your eval. There you have the  batter looking up at you on ball four and not knowing whether he can run and what base he can run to, 3B or 1B. And no "take your base"?

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On 9/27/2017 at 6:01 AM, maven said:

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.

You got that right on the stance adaptation due to age.  I do kind of a modified Gerry Davis stance.  Love it.

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On 9/26/2017 at 7:00 PM, Ty97 said:

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!

I do a point. I say hike on 1st and 2nd strike and hiyike at a louder volume for strike 3.  I say ball on all of the ball calls, sometimes saying ball 4.  No variation in the volume on ball calls.

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On 9/27/2017 at 1:27 PM, MadMax said:

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.

Down on your balls. Down on your balls. Down on your balls.  There is nothing more ridiculous looking when an umpire comes straight up quickly and meekly utters ball.  Why did it happen. Timing.  If you're going to come up,  call it a strike and get grief, but it looked like you knew what you were doing.  I have seen umpires with poor timing turn and call a strike about the same time the right fielder is catching the fly ball. Max has some great info here. 

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59 minutes ago, Jimurray said:

That is a definite downgrade on your eval. There you have the  batter looking up at you on ball four and not knowing whether he can run and what base he can run to, 3B or 1B. And no "take your base"?

What? Not sure what you're saying or if you're being serious?

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31 minutes ago, umpstu said:

What? Not sure what you're saying or if you're being serious?

Your kidding. Every smitty knows how to do it. I leave emoticons out to see if I can hook somebody.

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11 minutes ago, Jimurray said:

Your kidding. Every smitty knows how to do it. I leave emoticons out to see if I can hook somebody.

Curses. Ya got me.

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I always thought that Randy Marsh had a great verbal strike call...so I stole it.  Jeff Nelson was a mentor of mine back in my pro days.  He works the scissors (as do I...in fact he taught me the scissors (that was back in the day when NL umps had to work scissors and AL umps had to work the box, so you had to know both in case Ed Vargo came to your game and said "let me see you in the scissors"))  so I stole his physical strike mechanic.

Now, when I say "stole" I'm not suggesting that I'm anywhere near as good as either of those two, or that I execute my mechanics as well as either of those two.  But, I did steal.

Some may ask me, "what do you have that's your own?"  The answer is, "a horseSH*# strike zone!"

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