Jump to content
johnnyg08

Youth Baseball - 1 Umpire Mechanics - Recruiting/Retaining

Recommended Posts

Looking for feedback here. Some schools in our area are in desperate need of 7th and 8th grade baseball umpires. 

They cite early start times, start up costs, and difficulty of the job as reasons why there is little interest. 

Is there a case for having and teaching these umpires some base mechanics, how to call strikes & balls, and having them work behind the pitcher vs. behind home plate while they are getting started? Do you think it would increase retention? (Not everybody aspires to move up, but for those who do, we would obviously help them get there)

Here are a few ideas:

1. Avoid expensive start up costs (equipment)
2. Avoid getting hit several times by pitches/foul balls due to the developmental nature of younger pitchers, catchers, and hitters who are learning.
3. Less about plate mechanics, more about developing confidence on the field/base mechanics.
4. Increased distance from fans who may like to share their opinions about a new umpire's performance and younger catchers who like to work deeper than what is normal so teaching actual plate mechanics is difficult what this does is encourage the umpire to develop poor habits, especially timing. 
5. Decreased chances of head injury. 
6. In better position for most calls on the bases
7. At 7/8th grade levels, it's pretty easy to see strikes from behind the mound. Furthermore, it takes some emphasis away from the catcher properly presenting the pitch which is a key baseball plate mechanic that is difficult to teach to umpires who work lower level baseball because of the wide variety of player skill levels. 
8. For somebody newer to umpiring, the look they get from behind the mound is more like what they see on television so it's a view that comes with a more familiar perspective. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As long as the coaches, players, and spectators know that you're sacrificing better umpiring for this positioning, go for it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, yawetag said:

As long as the coaches, players, and spectators know that you're sacrificing better umpiring for this positioning, go for it.

Are we though? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The free market dictates that supply and demand would fix this issue if the market is allowed to work. It sounds like part of the problem may be that the pay rate is not high enough. Offer more money and you will find more labor supply...this is what a free market/capitalist society is based on. I honestly think that trying to recruit people to work behind the mound is setting them ultimately up for failure....plate work is the basis for all umpiring. If they don't get plate work repetitions right out of the gate to determine if this is something that they want to pursue, then isn't everyone's time being wasted in the big picture?? I'm not trying to be overly critical I just think that the idea here is trying to apply a band-aid to a gaping wound....that wound will only ultimately be solved by letting the free market work. Just my 2 cents....which doesn't buy anything anymore lol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, ofhs93 said:

The free market dictates that supply and demand would fix this issue if the market is allowed to work. It sounds like part of the problem may be that the pay rate is not high enough. Offer more money and you will find more labor supply...this is what a free market/capitalist society is based on. I honestly think that trying to recruit people to work behind the mound is setting them ultimately up for failure....plate work is the basis for all umpiring. If they don't get plate work repetitions right out of the gate, to determine if this is something that they want to pursue, then isn't everyone's time being wasted in the big picture?? I'm not trying to be overly critical I just think that the idea here is trying to apply a band-aid to a gaping wound....that wound will only ultimately be solved by letting the free market work. Just my 2 cents....which doesn't buy anything anymore lol.

I absolutely agree. On that note, perhaps the rate of pay is consistent with having an umpire work behind the pitcher vs. behind the plate. 

No doubt about it, this would be a band aid approach. No doubt about it, the foundation is built on plate work. They have essentially stated that they need a warm body (ideally) out there. So for $40/game (probably less) the market has dictated that will get you an umpire behind the pitcher. 

It's not ideal...but how do you tell a college kid to drop $200 on gear for 6 weeks of work and your first five game fees will cover your gear? 

That is a big reason why it's hard to get started in baseball umpiring. Granted, we all did it...but just because we did, doesn't necessarily mean that it's not somebody else's reason for not wanted to do it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, johnnyg08 said:

I absolutely agree. On that note, perhaps the rate of pay is consistent with having an umpire work behind the pitcher vs. behind the plate. 

No doubt about it, this would be a band aid approach. No doubt about it, the foundation is built on plate work. Realistically, they have essentially stated that they need a warm body (ideally) out there. So for $40/game (probably less) the market has dictated that will get you an umpire behind the pitcher. 

It's not ideal...but how do you tell a college kid to drop $200 on gear for 6 weeks of work and your first five game fees will cover your gear? 

That is a big reason why it's hard to get started in baseball umpiring. Granted, we all did it...but just because we did, doesn't necessarily mean that it's not somebody else's reason for not wanted to do it. 

For the Little League I run, we have ~60 junior umpires.  We provide gear at all our fields (a sadly large amount, since we don't have a central complex, but that's another story.)  It would be crazy to ask a 13/14 year old to buy their own gear, of course, but we allow any adult volunteers to use it too.

That's not a model that could work in a "real" association, of course, but just thinking out loud, would it be possible for an association to invest in loaner gear?  As in here, you can use this basic, low level set for one season, return it to us, and then we expect you to get your own if you're sticking with it.

I can instantly see lots of difficulties, liability among them, but I'm just spitballing here.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, johnnyg08 said:

I absolutely agree. On that note, perhaps the rate of pay is consistent with having an umpire work behind the pitcher vs. behind the plate. 

No doubt about it, this would be a band aid approach. No doubt about it, the foundation is built on plate work. They have essentially stated that they need a warm body (ideally) out there. So for $40/game (probably less) the market has dictated that will get you an umpire behind the pitcher. 

It's not ideal...but how do you tell a college kid to drop $200 on gear for 6 weeks of work and your first five game fees will cover your gear? 

That is a big reason why it's hard to get started in baseball umpiring. Granted, we all did it...but just because we did, doesn't necessarily mean that it's not somebody else's reason for not wanted to do it. 

I'll be honest with you...from my personal perspective and from a "work" standpoint, I fully believe that 7th/8th grade games should pay the same rate as varsity games. We are often times working a lot harder on those games with the varying level of skill and abilities than we have to on a varsity game. It goes back to pay....$40 isn't *remotely* close to enough to have a guy behind the plate working a 60/90 game solo....I'm not at ALL surprised there is a massive shortage with those rates. I just feel that we are compromising the integrity of the game by trying to hide the real problem here. The only way it will be resolved is if these school districts come to the reality that they are going to have to increase their rates if they care about the integrity of their games. If our pay locally was $40 for a Jr High game I wouldn't be doing them either. With the initial outlay of money required to get into this gig, those setting the pay rates need to realize that the real world dictates you will NOT have a labor pool for the compensation that they are currently offering.

I would also add in though that we should not be selling this avocation to college kids as 6 weeks of work....there is no reason they should not be taking this up as the ultimate summer job for a college student. If you can work 1 game a night and 3-4 on weekends you could take home more than the average summer student job could ever provide....at least in my area.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, stevis said:

For the Little League I run, we have ~60 junior umpires.  We provide gear at all our fields (a sadly large amount, since we don't have a central complex, but that's another story.)  It would be crazy to ask a 13/14 year old to buy their own gear, of course, but we allow any adult volunteers to use it too.

That's not a model that could work in a "real" association, of course, but just thinking out loud, would it be possible for an association to invest in loaner gear?  As in here, you can use this basic, low level set for one season, return it to us, and then we expect you to get your own if you're sticking with it.

I can instantly see lots of difficulties, liability among them, but I'm just spitballing here.

Thank you for your reply. These replies are the reason I started the thread. We're looking for ideas. As an association we're not going to assign these games, but the schools reached out to us for help with respect to training and equipment. 

In turn, we hope to continue to get the majority of their varsity schedules. 

They've thought about having "community equipment" but yes, I think the nature of the world in which we live...liability is a concern. IOW "I sustained a concussion and it was because the mask was cracked and shouldn't have been used" I'm not going to try and get in the middle of what the schools want to do...ultimately it's up to them. We were just brought in for ideas. 

Thank you for all of your idea.

I should state, we're not going to cover these games from an association standpoint, we're just attempting to help them more as a community service.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, ofhs93 said:

I'll be honest with you...from my personal perspective and from a "work" standpoint, I fully believe that 7th/8th grade games should pay the same rate as varsity games. We are often times working a lot harder on those games with the varying level of skill and abilities than we have to on a varsity game. It goes back to pay....$40 isn't *remotely* close to enough to have a guy behind the plate working a 60/90 game solo....I'm not at ALL surprised there is a massive shortage with those rates. I just feel that we are compromising the integrity of the game by trying to hide the real problem here. The only way it will be resolved is if these school districts come to the reality that they are going to have to increase their rates if they care about the integrity of their games. If our pay locally was $40 for a Jr High game I wouldn't be doing them either. With the initial outlay of money required to get into this gig, those setting the pay rates need to realize that the real world dictates you will NOT have a labor pool for the compensation that they are currently offering.

I would also add in though that we should not be selling this avocation to college kids as 6 weeks of work....there is no reason they should not be taking this up as the ultimate summer job for a college student. If you can work 1 game a night and 3-4 on weekends you could take home more than the average summer student job could ever provide....at least in my area.

You are spot on. Nobody wants to work for those crap game fees. Yet the organizations continue to hide behind the fact that "It's too good to pass up I can't believe nobody wants to do this."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, ofhs93 said:

I'll be honest with you...from my personal perspective and from a "work" standpoint, I fully believe that 7th/8th grade games should pay the same rate as varsity games.

Yes. Why not? The time commitment is about the same.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, johnnyg08 said:

Looking for feedback here. Some schools in our area are in desperate need of 7th and 8th grade baseball umpires. 

They cite early start times, start up costs, and difficulty of the job as reasons why there is little interest. 

Is there a case for having and teaching these umpires some base mechanics, how to call strikes & balls, and having them work behind the pitcher vs. behind home plate while they are getting started? Do you think it would increase retention? (Not everybody aspires to move up, but for those who do, we would obviously help them get there)

Here are a few ideas:

1. Avoid expensive start up costs (equipment)Our league provides equipment & uniform onceIf they quit, they turn it in, if the stick with it, they turn it in when the graduate and/or move on.
2. Avoid getting hit several times by pitches/foul balls due to the developmental nature of younger pitchers, catchers, and hitters who are learning. Our league provides equipment
3. Less about plate mechanics, more about developing confidence on the field/base mechanics. their 1st year, all I assign them to IS the plate.
4. Increased distance from fans who may like to share their opinions about a new umpire's performance and younger catchers who like to work deeper than what is normal so teaching actual plate mechanics is difficult what this does is encourage the umpire to develop poor habits, especially timing. I ask our league VP's to pass down that if anyone is caught bad mouthing or harassing JR umpires, I will personally volunteer them to help us umpire.
5. Decreased chances of head injury. Our league provides equipment
6. In better position for most calls on the bases in LL, Jr umpires cannot work alone, so no need to worry about the bases
7. At 7/8th grade levels, it's pretty easy to see strikes from behind the mound. Furthermore, it takes some emphasis away from the catcher properly presenting the pitch which is a key baseball plate mechanic that is difficult to teach to umpires who work lower level baseball because of the wide variety of player skill levels. 
8. For somebody newer to umpiring, the look they get from behind the mound is more like what they see on television so it's a view that comes with a more familiar perspective. 

I have made some remarks in red............Also, we recycle the used equipment to new umpires until the equipment is unserviceable, then we replace.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Aging_Arbiter said:

I have made some remarks in red............Also, we recycle the used equipment to new umpires until the equipment is unserviceable, then we replace.

We agree that equipment does not prevent any and all injury correct? 

New umpires will sacrifice proper position (bad habits) to avoid being hit. I'll admit to doing the same depending on what level I've chosen to work on a given day. 

You're lucky to have the resources to works as much two person as you do in your area. 

It's a pipe dream here. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, johnnyg08 said:

We agree that equipment does not prevent any and all injury correct?  Agreed

New umpires will sacrifice proper position (bad habits) to avoid being hit. I'll admit to doing the same depending on what level I've chosen to work on a given day. Disagree. I have several 1st year guys that would prove this theory untrue.

You're lucky to have the resources to works as much two person as you do in your area. Agree

It's a pipe dream here. I am truly sorry to hear that and wish you the best of luck in your recruiting efforts.

Most of mine are usually players that have come up through the ranks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I organize the umpires for my small town's rec leagues (8u machine pitch, 11u, and 14u, baseball and softball), that's one field and (this year) 7 teams. The pay isn't much (starts at $12/game for 8u, up to $20/game for 14u). But here's what we do provide:

- Almost all equipment. It's a mix of "good" and "passable" - we have the Schutt XV and a decent Champro mask with good Wilson pads. Shin guards are old catcher's gear, but for the level we're working there, it's "good enough" - even the better 14u pitchers would have a hard time making a travel team. I think I'm the only one that has plate shoes, and guys must wear their own cup. As far as liability, sure they could sue the rec commission out of existence ... and get the $2k in its bank account (maybe less toward the end of the season). I'm not worried.

- First shirt is half paid for. We standardized on the powder blue shirt, and the rec commission will pay for half of the umpire's first shirt - which comes out to slightly less than the first 8u game fee. Being a rec league, the rest of the uniform is optional (read: non-existent). The other towns in our league only use t-shirts with "Umpire" emblazoned on the front, for comparison.

- We can start them young. You only need to be 2 years older than the age group you're umpiring for, so I can start them as young as 10 years old working 8u games. I do partner anybody with less than 2 years of experience with somebody with more than 2 years of experience, preferably an adult. We do have 2 umpires for each game, even the 8u's.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, johnnyg08 said:

I absolutely agree. On that note, perhaps the rate of pay is consistent with having an umpire work behind the pitcher vs. behind the plate. 

No doubt about it, this would be a band aid approach. No doubt about it, the foundation is built on plate work. They have essentially stated that they need a warm body (ideally) out there. So for $40/game (probably less) the market has dictated that will get you an umpire behind the pitcher. 

It's not ideal...but how do you tell a college kid to drop $200 on gear for 6 weeks of work and your first five game fees will cover your gear? 

That is a big reason why it's hard to get started in baseball umpiring. Granted, we all did it...but just because we did, doesn't necessarily mean that it's not somebody else's reason for not wanted to do it. 

I was also the proverbial "college kid" when I started umpiring, but I did not start with Little League. I started out calling slow-pitch softball and adult league baseball, before moving into high school baseball. The pay for slow-pitch softball ($30 a game) was comparable to the Little League pay that you guys mention. For working adult league baseball, I did buy an umpire uniform and start-up baseball/softball gear from a local vendor, so I did spend about $150 on gear and uniforms. However, my experience is probably not typical (umpire sliding into high school ball with prior 2-man experience). My goals were also different than those of the typical college kid starting umpiring, because I was (and am) interested in umpiring long-term, whether in professional baseball or at the NCAA Division I level. 

Re: plate shoes, they are an absolute MUST when working lower-level baseball or softball. It is easy to get hit in the feet with a batted or pitched ball, and that ball can hurt when it hits an unprotected (or barely protected) toe. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...