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grk17

A Plea to Modernize Uniforms at the Amatuer Level

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Recently, I was talking with a young friend of mine who expressed interest in getting into the umpiring business. After hearing this, I quickly leaped into recruiter role to try and convince him to follow through with his ambitions. He asked if he could see some of my uniforms and equipment so that he could get an idea about what he might need and all of the specifics. As I was going through my many shirts and shoes and pants combinations, my buddy looked at my navy/red trim shirts that are still the standard shirt for high school games in my state. (although black has been approved as an alternate color). He looked at my navy shirts, laughed, and said: "this looks like a shirt my grandpa wears sometimes, and that jacket looks like something my grandma wears." (pointing to my navy therma-base jacket with red stripes over the shoulders.) That's when it hit me........ The navy and red trim shirts and jackets really do look like something of an era long past. My buddy then pointed to my MLB style black and grey side panel shirt and expressed his liking of the modern styling. While my dislike for navy shirts has grown over the last few years, this moment was a turning point where I really noticed just how dated these shirts look. I sincerely hope that NFHS and my state association will take a long hard look at updating these dated shirts. First, abolishing the navy shirts and transitioning to black would be a nice first step towards modernization. Also, this would eliminate the need for separate navy caps, navy ballbags, and navy jackets. I would go even further to say that we need to abolish the collar and cuff stripe shirts in general. Now, I realize that some might contend that we high school umpires shouldn't wear MLB shirts as we are not professional umpires. This is a view that I am somewhat sympathetic with, at least to some degree. The logical answer here might be to adopt the old MLB style shirts with the single stripe down the side. Some might also contend that since these shirts are the standard shirt for college umpires, we shouldn't infringe on their territory either. At any rate, I just wish we could come up with a modern style polo shirt in black and powder blue that, while different from the college and MLB styles, would still look modern and professional. I think it is time to stop donning our navy shirts that look like casual Friday at the office in 1980. With all of the manufacturers of umpire shirts out there, I would think that this could be accomplished by someone. All-in-all, I really would like to see high school associations at least take the first step towards modernization by eliminating the navy colors.

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I agree with you 100% about navy. We're the same here in NJ, though black is getting more popular for regular season, still,  the powers that be still insist on navy for state playoffs. The problem in HS is, there's plenty of "old timers" that whine about buying anything new. They're still bitching they had to buy a new pair of pants 6 years ago when high school phased out heather grey for baseball. NJ just switched from an arm patch to a logo on the breast, and that implementation took 3 years and there's still guys who haven't got one. (Granted the new logo shirts are horrible quality, but that's another story).

One of the worst feelings is emailing a partner you have never worked with before, and you mention you have black and navy shirts, they answer you and it reads "I only have navy".. You know you're probably in for not-so-great pregame, game or post game.

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1 hour ago, Richvee said:

I agree with you 100% about navy. We're the same here in NJ, though black is getting more popular for regular season, still,  the powers that be still insist on navy for state playoffs. The problem in HS is, there's plenty of "old timers" that whine about buying anything new. They're still bitching they had to buy a new pair of pants 6 years ago when high school phased out heather grey for baseball. NJ just switched from an arm patch to a logo on the breast, and that implementation took 3 years and there's still guys who haven't got one. (Granted the new logo shirts are horrible quality, but that's another story).

One of the worst feelings is emailing a partner you have never worked with before, and you mention you have black and navy shirts, they answer you and it reads "I only have navy".. You know you're probably in for not-so-great pregame, game or post game.

I'd like to add that there isn't anything wrong with wearing current model shirts, no matter if you're a pro or not.  Nothing wrong with looking like one when you enter a field.

And hopefully states have all gotten past the all black shoes thing.  Should be a personal choice.

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That is one of the nice things about both Washington and Oregon!

Oregon about 5-6 years ago, at the behest of the Portland association, agreed that the STANDARD color for high school in that state would be black. Beyond that, it is crew choice if the want to do another color like Cream, Light Blue, etc. That being said... with the large number of the top umpires in the Portland group. We were already wearing black as a main color. In 6 seasons with them, I maybe wore navy twice... and never at the varsity level.

As for Washington. Two years ago they made a deal with Gerry Davis Sports to have state mandated 2010 sublimated black shirts with the state HS association as well as the state officials association. Sadly, these shirts are total pieces of junk! But you only need to wear them if you dont go with a jacket or a long sleeve. And this being the Pacific Northwest, I have managed to not have to need one yet. Though I will probably spring for one this year just to have for state playoffs when they are required garb.

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Sometimes there are just good, veteran umpires that are stuck in their ways of being a “traditionalist.”  Maybe it’s their special thing. I don’t know, but it’s annoying. When they are the vet, whether they have plate or bases, they always call for navy. Not worth a pissing match, so I just go with it, but I do say something like “I hate navy” or “I hate the way it looks.”

State still requires navy for playoffs, which is silly, but there isn’t a good reason to wear it in a regular season game. Pretty much all masks go with black (or polo) but not many match navy, black shoes and belt look better with black. It’s not retro, it just looks lame. You look old timey and mismatched when you walk on the field.

We need a good one liner(s) that conveys how dumb navy looks and how it’s not cool to be a “traditionalist”. “Oh, so are you going to use a balloon today too?”

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What I would like to see is a survey emailed out to all the umpires in a state association where we could vote in favor or not in favor of updating to either the college style shirts or the MLB style shirts. I’m just curious to see what the results would be. This way, if there are some in the association who are salty about having to update shirts after like 30 years.... they wouldn’t have a whole lot of grounds to back up their point if 90% of the association members favor an update.

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I work and live in Missouri.  This up coming season we are changing from navy blue to black as the official jersey.   For the last few years guys have been wearing black.  It wasn't until the last couple of years, when I decided to take umpiring more seriously and advance in my career, that I started hearing the disdain towards the color of navy blue.  I have always had a "whatever" attitude towards the subject.  I think black does look better, but I think the blue looks good also.  I'm 38, so I'm not an old timer but I have been around for a while.  For the longest time I was the youngest guy in my area.  There are 4 younger ones now.  

So what is it?  Is it just an out with the old, in with the new frame of mind?  Do we want to look like the pros?  I could care less either way. I'm just curious.  If they changed the red and white stripe on the navy jersey to a different color, would that matter? @Thatsnotyou I have never heard the comment that navy doesn't go with black belt or black shoes or the mask.  I thought black went with everything.  I never had the navy bags.  Those always looked dumb in my opinion.  

I bought a new navy jersey two years ago and that thing still looks good.  The collar is sharp and it holds up and the shirt seems to withstand wrinkles better than the black.  Of course, you can't see the wrinkles in a black shirt.  The collars on the black shirts are flimsy.   I didn't always hang my shirts, but now I have to or my collar will come out looking a mess.  

 

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2 hours ago, redroofwoodworker said:

I work and live in Missouri.  This up coming season we are changing from navy blue to black as the official jersey.   For the last few years guys have been wearing black.  It wasn't until the last couple of years, when I decided to take umpiring more seriously and advance in my career, that I started hearing the disdain towards the color of navy blue.  I have always had a "whatever" attitude towards the subject.  I think black does look better, but I think the blue looks good also.  I'm 38, so I'm not an old timer but I have been around for a while.  For the longest time I was the youngest guy in my area.  There are 4 younger ones now.  

So what is it?  Is it just an out with the old, in with the new frame of mind?  Do we want to look like the pros?  I could care less either way. I'm just curious.  If they changed the red and white stripe on the navy jersey to a different color, would that matter? @Thatsnotyou I have never heard the comment that navy doesn't go with black belt or black shoes or the mask.  I thought black went with everything.  I never had the navy bags.  Those always looked dumb in my opinion.  

I bought a new navy jersey two years ago and that thing still looks good.  The collar is sharp and it holds up and the shirt seems to withstand wrinkles better than the black.  Of course, you can't see the wrinkles in a black shirt.  The collars on the black shirts are flimsy.   I didn't always hang my shirts, but now I have to or my collar will come out looking a mess.  

 

The issue with what Missouri has done is that all they said is the uniform must be black. They didn't standardize WHICH black shirt the uniform should be. I know in the rules video last year the vertical stripe and the older style black shirts were the only two shirts shown, making me think that those are the only two approved shirts... i.e. no gray panel shirts will be allowed. I wish MSHSAA would just actually make a uniform shirt with the logo on it and get it over with.  Also I hate blank hats...

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3 hours ago, redroofwoodworker said:

I work and live in Missouri.  This up coming season we are changing from navy blue to black as the official jersey.   For the last few years guys have been wearing black.  It wasn't until the last couple of years, when I decided to take umpiring more seriously and advance in my career, that I started hearing the disdain towards the color of navy blue.  I have always had a "whatever" attitude towards the subject.  I think black does look better, but I think the blue looks good also.  I'm 38, so I'm not an old timer but I have been around for a while.  For the longest time I was the youngest guy in my area.  There are 4 younger ones now.  

So what is it?  Is it just an out with the old, in with the new frame of mind?  Do we want to look like the pros?  I could care less either way. I'm just curious.  If they changed the red and white stripe on the navy jersey to a different color, would that matter? @Thatsnotyou I have never heard the comment that navy doesn't go with black belt or black shoes or the mask.  I thought black went with everything.  I never had the navy bags.  Those always looked dumb in my opinion.  

I bought a new navy jersey two years ago and that thing still looks good.  The collar is sharp and it holds up and the shirt seems to withstand wrinkles better than the black.  Of course, you can't see the wrinkles in a black shirt.  The collars on the black shirts are flimsy.   I didn't always hang my shirts, but now I have to or my collar will come out looking a mess.  

 

I don't know that they don't go with navy...but a black belt and black shoes (and a black/silver mask or black/silver accented mask) clearly go better with a black shirt. My silver mask with black pads goes much better with black than navy. Same with ball bags (I don't own navy ball bags).

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4 hours ago, redroofwoodworker said:

I work and live in Missouri.  This up coming season we are changing from navy blue to black as the official jersey.   For the last few years guys have been wearing black.  It wasn't until the last couple of years, when I decided to take umpiring more seriously and advance in my career, that I started hearing the disdain towards the color of navy blue.  I have always had a "whatever" attitude towards the subject.  I think black does look better, but I think the blue looks good also.  I'm 38, so I'm not an old timer but I have been around for a while.  For the longest time I was the youngest guy in my area.  There are 4 younger ones now.  

So what is it?  Is it just an out with the old, in with the new frame of mind?  Do we want to look like the pros?  I could care less either way. I'm just curious.  If they changed the red and white stripe on the navy jersey to a different color, would that matter? @Thatsnotyou I have never heard the comment that navy doesn't go with black belt or black shoes or the mask.  I thought black went with everything.  I never had the navy bags.  Those always looked dumb in my opinion.  

I bought a new navy jersey two years ago and that thing still looks good.  The collar is sharp and it holds up and the shirt seems to withstand wrinkles better than the black.  Of course, you can't see the wrinkles in a black shirt. The collars on the black shirts are flimsy.   I didn't always hang my shirts, but now I have to or my collar will come out looking a mess.  

 

Missouri seems to take a little longer than the rest of the world to do anything.  I grew up there and man.   There have been 3 models of shirts that have come out since the navy blue shirt.  The area in California where I now live had a rule against shoes with white on them.  I was selected to work a final in my region and there was no way I was going to buy a new pair of shoes just for one game so I wore my NB with white on them.  Two days later at the end of year meeting the wearing of those shoes with white on them was brought up by the president.  After saying that he saw somebody wearing them he said that he thought they looked really sharp and that he thought we should change the bylaw to include shoes with white on them.  Voted for unanimously in favor.  We have been ok wearing the new model shirts as well as long as you matched your partner.  

Where in Missouri do you live?

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6 hours ago, redroofwoodworker said:

So what is it?  Is it just an out with the old, in with the new frame of mind?  Do we want to look like the pros?  I could care less either way. I'm just curious.  If they changed the red and white stripe on the navy jersey to a different color, would that matter? @Thatsnotyou I have never heard the comment that navy doesn't go with black belt or black shoes or the mask.  I thought black went with everything.  I never had the navy bags.  Those always looked dumb in my opinion.  

For me, the call to update is for several reasons. First, I just think that the navy and red looks old and dated. I get that there is a traditionalist aspect to it but those navy shirts really do look like they are straight out of 1980. With companies now making shirts with a more modern styling, I think it is foolish to still stick with a dated style and color. Much the same as a double-breasted suit with a really wide tie is outdated and a bit silly looking in a modern sense. (although I realize that dress clothes go in and out of style and the double-breasted suit will probably come back into style at some point.)

Second, navy just seems like a really counterintuitive color. We wear black shoes, black belts, and mostly black gear but then we throw on a shirt with navy and red. This makes absolutely no sense to me. Why not wear shirts that are black or powder blue with black trim that jive with our shoes, belts, and gear. Just think of it in terms of dress clothes that you wear to work. If you wear black shoes and a black belt with dark grey pants, a navy and red shirt would not be the best choice. I suppose you could pull that look off if you really wanted to but it really doesn't go together. Thus, black or light blue goes really good with grey pants and black shoes/belt. 

Third, practicality is compromised by including navy shirts as required attire. Having navy in the rotation now means that I must purchase a navy hat and navy ballbags and navy jackets to accommodate this color. I would rather stick with shirt colors that go with black supporting attire. If we eliminate navy, we no longer need navy hats, ballbags, and jackets. This is more of a one-size fits all mentality that ultimately makes uniform buying cheaper. Since many associations, including mine, have rightly identified startup cost as a large factor why numbers are going down, I would think that state associations would be trying to encourage price savings at every turn in order to foster recruiting new officials.

Finally, looking like the pros is never a bad thing. Sure, we may not be MLB or collegiate umpires, but there is nothing wrong with appearing like we are professionals and dressing appropriately. I once had a mentor who told me that appearance is most of the battle. If you look professional, you feel professional, and people respect you more. For better or worse, perception is often reality in the minds of spectators. All-in-all, I would really like to get the ball rolling on updating uniforms at the high school level of officiating for the reasons listed above. Maybe if enough of us mobilize we can influence organizations to update.

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5 hours ago, JSam21 said:

I wish MSHSAA would just actually make a uniform shirt with the logo on it and get it over with.

Be careful what you wish for. We now have a "standard" shirt with out logo on it. It's the cheapest POS I've ever owned. Flimsy doesn't even begin to describe how bad these shirts are.....and the markup because of an embroidered logo is a crime. 

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24 minutes ago, Richvee said:

Be careful what you wish for. We now have a "standard" shirt with out logo on it. It's the cheapest POS I've ever owned. Flimsy doesn't even begin to describe how bad these shirts are.....and the markup because of an embroidered logo is a crime. 

I also worked in Illinois last year and their shirts are embroidered... with the matching hat I thought they looked great 

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8 minutes ago, JSam21 said:

I also worked in Illinois last year and their shirts are embroidered... with the matching hat I thought they looked great 

No doubt it can be done with quality shirts. I'm just sayin' they went that route here in NJ, and the quality/value of what we have to buy is horrid. I do understand though...I think the practice of the "kickback" was invented in NJ. :cool:

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11 hours ago, JSam21 said:

I also worked in Illinois last year and their shirts are embroidered... with the matching hat I thought they looked great 

I for one despise non-blank hats. I think they look tacky, an avoid wearing them when possible... Which is almost always at the level of ball I call. 

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16 hours ago, umpstu said:

Missouri seems to take a little longer than the rest of the world to do anything.  I grew up there and man.   There have been 3 models of shirts that have come out since the navy blue shirt.  The area in California where I now live had a rule against shoes with white on them.  I was selected to work a final in my region and there was no way I was going to buy a new pair of shoes just for one game so I wore my NB with white on them.  Two days later at the end of year meeting the wearing of those shoes with white on them was brought up by the president.  After saying that he saw somebody wearing them he said that he thought they looked really sharp and that he thought we should change the bylaw to include shoes with white on them.  Voted for unanimously in favor.  We have been ok wearing the new model shirts as well as long as you matched your partner.  

Where in Missouri do you live?

You're right.  This is the first change since I have started umpiring in 2001.

I live just south of West Plains Mo.

 

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3 hours ago, redroofwoodworker said:

You're right.  This is the first change since I have started umpiring in 2001.

I live just south of West Plains Mo.

 

Mother is from Thayer.  I grew up just west of St Louis.

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That is actually the city she lived in. Last name Mautner.  Attended Thayer hs.

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18 hours ago, grk17 said:

Third, practicality is compromised by including navy shirts as required attire. Having navy in the rotation now means that I must purchase a navy hat and navy ballbags and navy jackets to accommodate this color. I would rather stick with shirt colors that go with black supporting attire. If we eliminate navy, we no longer need navy hats, ballbags, and jackets. This is more of a one-size fits all mentality that ultimately makes uniform buying cheaper. Since many associations, including mine, have rightly identified startup cost as a large factor why numbers are going down, I would think that state associations would be trying to encourage price savings at every turn in order to foster recruiting new officials.

That's a good point.  It can get very expensive if we have coordinate all the colors with a different shirt.  Where I'm at in Missouri, we don't have a high school association.  I never had to worry about different color bags.  I just had black. Everyone wore navy for baseball, so I just had blue hats.  Some people had black hats with their navy shirt.  I would love it if there was an association that everyone followed so that all of us umpires looked the same and used the same mechanics.  It was tough for me to learn the right way.  I have tried to relay some of this stuff to the guys I have been working HS with for years.  They are very reluctant to change.  

I'm fine with change. I like the black. I agree, navy looks outdated.  The red stripe looks odd.  Were they going for a flag color scheme? 

Who all owns a pink shirt and all the extras to go with it?  

 

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15 minutes ago, umpstu said:

That is actually the city she lived in. Last name Mautner.  Attended Thayer hs.

My mom and grandparents would probably know the name.  There is no one in town by that name anymore.  At least not that I know of.  

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1 hour ago, redroofwoodworker said:

That's a good point.  It can get very expensive if we have coordinate all the colors with a different shirt.  Where I'm at in Missouri, we don't have a high school association.  I never had to worry about different color bags.  I just had black. Everyone wore navy for baseball, so I just had blue hats.  Some people had black hats with their navy shirt.  I would love it if there was an association that everyone followed so that all of us umpires looked the same and used the same mechanics.  It was tough for me to learn the right way.  I have tried to relay some of this stuff to the guys I have been working HS with for years.  They are very reluctant to change.  

I'm fine with change. I like the black. I agree, navy looks outdated.  The red stripe looks odd.  Were they going for a flag color scheme? 

Who all owns a pink shirt and all the extras to go with it?  

 

When it was developed it was the colors of the NL and AL... with NL having the powder blue shirt (now the "softball" shirt)  and the AL having the red shirt as their alternate. So in a way, yes it was to be a "patriotic" motif. 

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3 hours ago, redroofwoodworker said:

That's a good point.  It can get very expensive if we have coordinate all the colors with a different shirt.  Where I'm at in Missouri, we don't have a high school association.  I never had to worry about different color bags.  I just had black. Everyone wore navy for baseball, so I just had blue hats.  Some people had black hats with their navy shirt.  I would love it if there was an association that everyone followed so that all of us umpires looked the same and used the same mechanics.  It was tough for me to learn the right way.  I have tried to relay some of this stuff to the guys I have been working HS with for years.  They are very reluctant to change.  

I'm fine with change. I like the black. I agree, navy looks outdated.  The red stripe looks odd.  Were they going for a flag color scheme? 

Who all owns a pink shirt and all the extras to go with it?  

 

Exactly. You also bring up another point I forgot to touch on. Even though my state’s association requires navy hats and ball bags with the navy shirt, not everyone abides by it. I’ve worked games with partners who only had a navy shirt and a black hat. Some don’t have navy ball bags either. Therefore, even though color matching is required, not everyone abides by it and we end up looking silly since some of us have different color hats. Eliminating navy would also solve this problem 

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3 hours ago, redroofwoodworker said:

My mom and grandparents would probably know the name.  There is no one in town by that name anymore.  At least not that I know of.  

The last one was my Uncle and he moved about ten years or so ago.

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