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Need Advice... Little League

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I was recruited into umpiring via newspaper ad. Although it was high school not little league.

Try local high schools. Players know the game. Need money. Local colleges as well. Parents: Tell them that without umpires there will be no games. Just practice. So volunteers are needed.

When I coached little league and minor league in a rural locale the coaches from uninvolved teams or the other leagues (t-ball, machine pitch, minor league) filled in on bases when needed. Not the best solution. Also, does your local high school level umpires have a formal group or association?  If so, ask them. 

Maybe more but that is all that comes to mind at the moment.

Good luck. 

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An excellent question, and not to be discounted, but don't neglect retention as well, especially for those at the 2-3 year mark. They're already in the program and that's the key break point that many seem to either leave or stay. 

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Our District has a great training program which includes 3 or 4 mechanics clinics (4 hour fast start we call them), an 8hr mechanics certification day, an 1.5 hour 'advanced' clinic where we work 3 man rotations and the like as well as a complete rules program which includes five 2 hr. classes on Wednesday nights to completely cover all the bases... All of this, and I was having issues recruiting locally. Those of you who have been in LL for a while can attest that what I described here is RARE and almost no one does the number of clinics and outreach that comes from CA D62. 

When I reached out to the 'body politic' of our league, and which in reality IS the league, the responses I received as to why we were having issues recruiting new people was scattered, but there were some re-occurring themes:

* Too much training... the parents felt that all of the above, mechanics and rules was overwhelming, especially for those parents whose kids are just starting out in the lower divisons,

* Too hard to get to the rules meetings at 7pm on a Wednesday night in traffic (5-12 miles for most people, but hey LA traffic is a bitch),

* We should just pay umpires, because, you know someone else can do all the work... I mean, we all just fall off trees, right?

 

To combat some of these our BOD heavily hit on the fact that we have to have officials, that LL does not really like the paying umpires route, that paying does not get you 'better' umpires, it just gets you a body in many cases and that the majority of the 'assassins' are already working College and HS ball at the same time which means few available folks for LL to pay.

So I put together (and I will share it if you would like to look it over) a very basic intro to umpiring which we rolled out as a league. We did a 3 hr rules/mechanics intro on a Saturday morning where myself and a couple other District Staff umpires went through the basics of the rules and on field mechanics; hopefully we provided these people with enough information to be dangerous to themselves and others. I was able to attract, out of a 230 kid LL program roughly 25 first time attendees, many of them Junior umpires ranging in age from 11-16. Our league does provide some compensation to the juniors when they work games.

Our thought is to try and get new to the league parents involved earlier in their kids LL career by giving them a soft shoe intro to running games. I would not want one of these people to jump on a Majors game, however for Minor C (kid pitch/coach pitch hybrid) or even Minor B, I would be fine with them... hopefully a few will want to keep improving and  decide to take advantage of our spectacular district training, but in the interim I did get new people to jump in. You have to start somewhere, and as mentioned in a prior post, you need retention, but if the program is new, or rebuilding, you have to start at the attracting people stage.

 

 

 

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Another thought. I’ve never been associated with a Little League that did not pay their umpires. So, if you’re the “volunteer” umpire type of organization I think it is incumbent that you provide all the needed equipment and uniforms for the umpires. IF, they contract to work x amount of games or seasons they can keep the gear and wear it when they move up into paying gigs.

And provide all the training mentioned earlier. In short increments.  Lots to digest at first. 

Also, mentors for new umpires. 

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To your point, we supply shirts, hats and equipment. Pants, shoes and cup is all on you :-)

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Thanks hombres, I appreciate the advice.

Here's the sitch.  We do pay our guys, and the board wants to pay them more, provided I train them more.  I find it kind of challenging sometimes, since i've concentrated so hard on getting better at 3 man and college rules, that I find myself getting a little too complicated. 

The town is small, and rural, that's why I moved here, but nobody really knows about baseball except that umpires get yelled at.  And unfortunately "that's a part of the game."

I'll let yall know what I come up with

 

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I find that calling time and offering the mask to the spectator shuts them up pretty quick. 

Actually had one guy take me up on the offer and he lasted a whole 2 pitches before he quietly sulked back to the stands. 

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