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Why is it so hard to advance?

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I’d like to hear some feedback from the umpires here. 

In your opinion why is it hard to advance into higher levels of baseball. Be it from little league to Varsity Highschool it Highschool into College or even up into the higher ranks of college baseball. 

 

Lets hear it. 

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EDIT: I deleted a lengthy post because I felt it sounded as if I was whining.  I mentioned before I can be blunt and to the point.  I was blunt to the point it was probably going to piss somebody off.

I’ll just say this ... I would really like to advance in my umpiring “career”.  I have been told my skills are upper tier on (we can all be better though!) and my knowledge is well above par, but I am not willing to play the games that one has to play around here to advance though.

I’m anxious to see what others have to say and hope those comments may help me.

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I don’t know if I’d agree it’s hard to advance. At least not from youth to high school,  high school  to lower level college  

That said, there are things you must do to advance to any  level, besides the obvious things like know your rules, be professional, in shape, responsible,  etc. 

1. Go to clinics. Specifically clinics that fit the  level you wish to attain and where people who will be assigning at that next level will see you. Try to go to  one clinic a year. 

2. Don’t attempt or expect to skip levels. Youth, sub varsity, varsity, etc. Skipping levels doesn’t help you and it will show on the field that you are not ready to advance. 

3. Rarely does if happen quickly. If takes time and many games to get go the point where the next level doesn’t overwhelm you. Seems to me too many people expect to work a year or 2 of LL and/ of sub varsity and think they’re ready to move up. That’s rare. 

4. Be a good “ soldier “. 

That means if you accept games don’t turn them back, keep blocks up to date,  do any games your assigner needs you for , and don’t complain  I’m old school so the term “ pay your dues”  resonates. Not to sound like an old fart, but I think  this is a major point that’s lost on a lot of the younger generation .  There’s no instant gratification here. You don’t advance without paying your dues.

 Is all of this  “playing the game?”   .  I don’t think so  ..some might disagree. If you think it’s playing the game , and you don’t want to play the game, then yeah, it’s  real hard to advance  

There’s no substitute for experience.  It takes time.  Some advance quicker than others for many reasons.  Availability and ability probably two of the more important assets one can have to speed up the process  

Never stop learning.  If you’re not  getting better your getting worse. 

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I really appreciate this question. The two answers already posted reflect the binary pretty well and both sides have valid arguments. I will begin by saying that this is not just a question that baseball officials ask, (I also do wrestling and it’s probably harder to advance to Varsity Wrestling than it is to the Majors! :sarcasm:). 

In the response to the OP, I can say specifically that advancing from LL to HS has been particularly difficult because I didn’t have someone to help me do it. Figuring out the questions to ask and person to ask them to can be difficult. I didn’t know what the process would be like or what I needed to do. This is particularly frustrating considering the shortage of umpires around here. I understand the limitations on this suggestion, but one thing I have never seen is an umpire scout. In all my years of doing pony and club play, I have never seen someone out scouting for umpires to move up. Again, I know that time is money, but I think it might be beneficial if HS official’s associations made it a position (like they do with evaluators, or association president) I think it would do a lot if the associations would just send a formal representative to local LL/Rec Leagues to find some prospects of kids who would do well/ are interested in moving up. 

I think the argument about the need for “time” is a subjective requirement. I agree that someone should not expect to excel at a level above their skillset. I also believe we shouldn’t expect perfection from someone on their first try. It is crucial to remember that people need to be challenged in order to improve. An example that comes to mind is my older brother of 10 years. Whenever something breaks at his house he calls me to come fix it. When I ask him why he doesn’t just look up how to do it on Youtube, he says, “Dad always told us that if you’re gonna do something, then to do it right and do it right the first time.” He interprets this as, “I don’t know how to do it right so I just won’t try.”  I know that this is not what my dad meant by that, but a similar thing happens when someone is constantly told, “You just need more time,” the person tends to interpret it as “You’ll never be ready.” The solution is stop using time as an excuse to not giving someone higher level games. If someone isn’t ready then they aren’t ready. But they need to be given legitimate criticism. If you’re in a position of leadership then really tell someone what to work on. The goal should be to get people through as quickly as possible. The idea should be to help get as many high level officials as we can. Instead of insisting that only the “best” aka “the oldest” officials get the best games, it should really be the best. The job is already hard enough as it is, and it shows in the shortage. If someone is willing enough to do the job then we as a brotherhood should do what we can to keep them in it. The pay is already not that great, so why should someone be stuck doing JV, that pays even less, even though they are ready to move up? Time is not a great reason to hold someone back. 

I will also say that it cannot all be put on assigners, it is essential to market and network yourself. You need to get yourself and your name out there. If an assigner doesn’t know you they can’t assign you confidently. But again the assigner has a responsibility to know the people in their chapter. So on this matter there is a shared responsibility. Anyway, that’s my thoughts. Take em for what their worth. I don’t say any of this to get down on the guys who are put in leadership in their chapters. I know that they already work tirelessly. I just throw out these ideas as a fresh set of ideas for something to try incase what you’re already doing isn’t working. 

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I understand and can empathize where @The Man in Blue is coming from.  The "good ol' boy" network is still prevalent in many organizations. But keep in mind, they don't know you until you get out there an work with them.  Maybe you have, I don't know.  Along with @Richvee, I'll admit it, I'm an old fart too! Many of us were brought up having to "earn" our keep.  I liken this to the ruined youth sports in todays society.  Back when I played little league, you used to have to win to get a trophy.  If the shoe fits, too many of this younger generation have a sense of entitlement. Younger people feel that they "deserve" something, instead of going out and "earning" it. I like the idea of the scout that @The Short Umpirementions.  However, all of us know the shortage of umpires already.  I highly doubt an organization will dedicate a certain person for this.  oh yes, it needs to be a "seasoned" umpire, so he/she is aware of the nuances associated with the game itself.  So don't expect that anytime soon.

Here's what I tell guys in my area that ask my opinion.  You have to put in your time to get experience.  Experience will allow you to move up.  Then you have to put in your time there, before you move up again.  If you aren't willing to do that, and expect things to be handed to you, try another sport. 

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Assuming you don't think one should advance on seniority alone....if you believe in seniority over merit, stop reading.

 

Sometimes advancement is more about politics than merit - or more accurately, politics comes into play when you can't differentiate merit - why should umpiring be any different than any corporate job, and I would view it the same way.

It doesn't really matter how good you are if nobody knows who you are.   "Playing the game" isn't nearly as cynical as some make it out.   You are a product, and like any product you need to be sold.

Advancement does require two things.

 

1. A way to separate yourself from the pack - the higher up you go the less spots there are - if there are ten guys vying for one spot how do you separate yourself?  That could be by doing something really special and selling yourself well...or it could just be making sure you have a relationship with the decision makers.  That doesn't necessarily mean kissing ass.  Often times all ten candidates are right for the job, so they'll pick the guy they know.  And if you come in second, how do you make sure you stay there when the next set of guys compete with you for the next opening?

2. A succession plan.  Sometimes the decision to keep people down is logistical.  Sure, maybe there are ten openings and we could put ten qualified people up...at the expense of leaving a gap behind.   You don't advance if you don't have someone to replace you.  Mentor people behind you.  This is counter-intuitive in any work space - people fear competition and worry if they bring in somebody that can replace them then they will be out of work.  Leaders with integrity recognize they need to surround themselves with people more skilled than they are.

Again - nothing I say here has anything to do with umpiring specifically.  Advancing is advancing.  Doesn't matter if you're an ump, a McDonald's burger flipper, a junior sales guy, or a paralegal.

 

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I hope @MidAmUmp will chime in here . But IMO @Richvee is right on point, but here are my $0.02.

Early career - Take the Little League, Pony and other lower levels of games. While I personally don't care to work these levels any more, the truth is they CAN make you a better umpire. You will see things at these levels you will not see anywhere else and it will give you the ability to think on your feet and how to use judgement. 

Get a Mentor - If your group  or association doesn't offer mentoring opportunities, find your own. The key, and most difficult thing, is to find a mentor who really knows what they are doing. Early on you will probably not be able to tell the good umpires from the pretenders - I still get fooled from time to time. 

Evolve as an umpire - Umpiring is changing - don't be afraid of changing. Coming up through the lower ranks you will most likely develop some bad habits taught to you by well meaning, but not the best informed folks. Add to that rules change, mechanics change, assigners have their preferences to what you should do and you need to be able to adapt. 

Clinics - Can be extremely good for developing your skills, try to go to some periodically. Whether you're going to be looked at for a position on a conference/organization's staff or for personal growth. Find reputable clinics. When at the clinic, be a good student. Ask questions but don't try to stump the ump. Be an active participant and engaged. One of the most common complaints I see about clinics is the amount of time people say they waste in line for drills, etc. Their time isn't being wasted, but their opportunity is. When in line watch the others whose turn it is see what they are doing, both right and wrong. Use that info to make the most of your time when it is your turn. 

Patience - Don't expect things to happen overnight for you. It takes hard work and dedication. In some organizations it may take a little longer for that to be recognized. 

Get Feedback- Have a good post game with all your partners. Even "Good ol' Smitty" who thinks much more than himself than his abilities, may have a gem every now and again. Take that feedback you get if its positive, negative, even wrong and sort through it and try to apply it to your game. 

Pay it Forward - As you move up the ladder bring others with you. Teach them what you've learned, help them avoid mistakes you made. There is a serious shortage of umpires out there. Bringing people up with you will not reduce your game count, will not hurt you in any way. It will only help you. Being the guy who is looking out for other umpires and helping them develop and grow is an easy way to get the positive recognition that will help you move up.

Participate - Be involved in your umpiring group/ association. I'm not saying kiss up to the assigner, but volunteer to help when, where and how you can. 

Availability - As the saying goes, "Sometimes availability is your greatest ability." I personally have both benefited from my availability and had my growth limited by my availability. Early on I had nearly unlimited availability. I actually called my first varsity game just a few months after starting umpiring. Not because I was good and deserved it, but I was available. The assigner had someone bail and needed an umpire immediately near where I worked and knew I wouldn't have a problem leaving work. I arrived 20 min before game time. (just for reference, typically an umpire in our association will not get a varsity assignment for 3-4 years). But on the flip side, my collegiate career has been limited. I no longer have unlimited availability, I would work weekend games, but being able to travel distances or do weekday games was out of the question, so that makes me less attractive than others who have greater availability. 

Nobody owes you anything - Yes, there are good ol boy systems; yes, assigners have their favorites, yes, there may be umpires you are significantly better than, that get better assignments than you. Those are the breaks. You may not be able to fight city hall, but focus on what is in your control and your hard work will be recognized. If not by your group, find another umpiring association. 

Keep the right mindset - I mentioned I do not like youth games. But you can learn from those. Use games that are "beneath you" to develop your skills. Work on your footwork, play with your mechanics. Get different angles. Concentrate on making sharp crisp mechanics. Think of your own "what if scenarios" to keep yourself engaged. 

Humility - Everything above can be improved with a dose of humility. Don't get an ego and become "That guy." The guy while his actual skills are okay, but he thinks he's God's gift to umpiring. The guy nobody wants to work with. Be honest with yourself. If you can't be honest with yourself, you can't be honest with anybody. Learn from your mistakes. Dissect those situations and learn from them. Don't just look to assign blame to others. 

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12 hours ago, The Man in Blue said:

EDIT: I deleted a lengthy post because I felt it sounded as if I was whining.  I mentioned before I can be blunt and to the point.  I was blunt to the point it was probably going to piss somebody off.

I’ll just say this ... I would really like to advance in my umpiring “career”.  I have been told my skills are upper tier on (we can all be better though!) and my knowledge is well above par, but I am not willing to play the games that one has to play around here to advance though.

I’m anxious to see what others have to say and hope those comments may help me.

What "games" aren't you willing to play?

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2 hours ago, Aging_Arbiter said:

Many of us were brought up having to "earn" our keep.  I liken this to the ruined youth sports in todays society.  Back when I played little league, you used to have to win to get a trophy

Hell, when I played town little league, you had to try out to make a team in the league. Some kids got cut! Imagine the outrage in today's society if that were to happen? 

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You cant be "just as good" as an umpire the assigner already knows and trusts.  You have to be better.  Or, wait for a retirement or other opening.

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49 minutes ago, Umpire in Chief said:

When in line watch the others whose turn it is see what they are doing, both right and wrong. Use that info to make the most of your time when it is your turn.

 

49 minutes ago, Umpire in Chief said:

- Don't expect things to happen overnight for you. It takes hard work and dedication. In some organizations it may take a little longer for that to be recognized. 

 

52 minutes ago, Umpire in Chief said:

Nobody owes you anything - Yes, there are good ol boy systems; yes, assigners have their favorites, yes, there may be umpires you are significantly better than, that get better assignments than you. Those are the breaks. You may not be able to fight city hall, but focus on what is in your control and your hard work will be recognized. If not by your group, find another umpiring association.

^^^^^...Gems....^^^^^

One more add...along the lines of mindset that @Umpire in Chief talks about....I heard this at a clinic and it's so true and helpful...

Umpire every game like it's the most important assignment you've ever had. Every kid in every game deserves your best effort. It will not go unnoticed. 

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From a clinic standpoint, I think Richvee hit the nail on the head about attending the RIGHT clinic. You need to choose a clinic that is the right fit. I am constantly getting asked by umpires if I think they should attend our advanced clinic. I ask about the levels they are currently working and several will say they work at the HS level.

You want to attend a clinic that will challenge you, but also allow you to stand out. A high school umpire attending an advanced 3-man clinic can end up hurting a guy more than it can help them. Assigners are there looking to hire umpires. Not able to keep up with the speed of the game, not knowing where to go, etc. will hurt you in the eyes of the assigners and can set your career back a few years. However, attending a 2-man camp with the same assigners...standing out in that camp may get you hired in an entry level college conference and a good reputation going forward.

If you want to take flying lessons, you don’t take them from the Blue Angels if you’ve never been in the cockpit.

 

As far as advancing your career in general, be patient and enjoy the ride. It’s cliche but “trust the process”. The assigners know what they are doing. Maybe they have a goal for you that you don’t realize. They see the big picture. It’s better to be a couple of years late and succeed when you get there than be too early and have it blow up on you because you weren’t ready. 

I’ve had the opportunity to work some higher level baseball, but there are a lot of times I miss running around a high school or a division 2 baseball field. Those times were so much fun and there was very little pressure. Now at the D1 level, it’s a job. Everything is on video, everything is scrutinized, the more technology the teams have, the more we’re under the microscope. Assigners aren’t going to put you in that environment until they know you’re ready, so as I said, trust the process and enjoy the ride. 

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3 hours ago, beerguy55 said:

2. A succession plan.  Sometimes the decision to keep people down is logistical.  Sure, maybe there are ten openings and we could put ten qualified people up...at the expense of leaving a gap behind.   You don't advance if you don't have someone to replace you.  Mentor people behind you.  This is counter-intuitive in any work space - people fear competition and worry if they bring in somebody that can replace them then they will be out of work.  Leaders with integrity recognize they need to surround themselves with people more skilled than they are.

 

 

I love this! Like I said, the goal should be to get as many people through the ranks as possible! And honestly, I don’t think you should just be getting guys to replace you, but to work with you. There’s a shortage, inviting people to join in isn’t going to take away any spots, inviting people to join is just going to fill the empty spots. And if we really get to a point of having too many umpires, then we should just start running 3-man and 4-man crews all the time! How cool would that be!! (I understand that this in not super realistic and you can call me a dreamer if you want, just illustrating the point that we could double the number of umpires currently out there and still have plenty of positions to go around). 

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2 hours ago, JSam21 said:

What "games" aren't you willing to play?

 

Again, trying not to be “that guy” ... but reading some of the great advice in this thread, it has reaffirmed my belief that the culture and environment in my area is lacking.  We do not have a strong or engaged association or any “main” assignors for the high school level down.  Things are so fractured that fresh talent is dropped through the cracks either because they don’t know where/who to go to or they are just flat out overlooked in lieu of “experience.”  Because of those fractures, individuals (not groups) hold most of they cards and yes, “kissing butt” gets you much further than working, working often, and working well.

Our association: It is an all-sport association just aimed at NFHS.  Years ago it had fractured into two different associations (individual egos).  Over the last few years, the two came back together as one.  They do very little (nothing) in the form of offering extra training or resources, let alone efforts to recruit.  It is primarily a social organization that is focused on the same three or four events they do every year.  I continue to pay dues because they do have a distribution list for picking up games (they don’t assign, they just pass along the message).

Assignors for NFHS: This is the old-boy network at its best.  We have at least five assignors just in softball that I know of.  Most of them are friends, but bicker back and forth and try to snipe each other’s schools.  Many schools have gotten fed up with paying them and have just gone to doing their own hiring, which further fractures things.

EDIT ... cutting out a lot of crap that I cut before.  

My next steps: For a while I had given up on advancing.  I’m happy, but I would like more.  I have decided this next “year” I am going to make a point out of going to some larger clinics out of my area.  I think getting out of my area is going to be an important part of my growth.

I have considered trying to “hang out my own shingle” by starting an organization focused on training and recruiting for all associations (not just NFHS) since it is lacking in this area.  I feel as if others will see that as another “Oh, there goes another guy trying to take over” move though.  I guess I shouldn’t care since nobody else is doing it, but I try not to step on toes (I’m already too blunt).

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Aging_Arbiter said:

I understand and can empathize where @The Man in Blue is coming from.  The "good ol' boy" network is still prevalent in many organizations. But keep in mind, they don't know you until you get out there an work with them.  Maybe you have, I don't know.  Along with @Richvee, I'll admit it, I'm an old fart too! Many of us were brought up having to "earn" our keep.  I liken this to the ruined youth sports in todays society.  Back when I played little league, you used to have to win to get a trophy.  If the shoe fits, too many of this younger generation have a sense of entitlement. Younger people feel that they "deserve" something, instead of going out and "earning" it. I like the idea of the scout that @The Short Umpirementions.  However, all of us know the shortage of umpires already.  I highly doubt an organization will dedicate a certain person for this.  oh yes, it needs to be a "seasoned" umpire, so he/she is aware of the nuances associated with the game itself.  So don't expect that anytime soon.

Here's what I tell guys in my area that ask my opinion.  You have to put in your time to get experience.  Experience will allow you to move up.  Then you have to put in your time there, before you move up again.  If you aren't willing to do that, and expect things to be handed to you, try another sport. 

The younger generation comments, IMO, are just wrong.  Just listening to you and others talk down about the younger generation would be enough to drive them away.  I'm 60 and see people of our generation talking bad about them all of the time.   It sucks.  You can't have that attitude and then scratch your head when they won't join or drop out because of all of the negativity.  Experience is a great thing, but if they're 20 years old and already better than all of the others in your unit, will you not give them choice assignments because of the age/experience issue?   

I've worked with and assigned many young umpires to playoff/championship games over the old farts.  The excuse of this is only his first year in our association is a cop out.  Kid should be frustrated if he's better than the experienced guys and gets passed over.  Two examples: A foreign exchange student from Japan.  He had no transportation except for a bike to get him back and forth to school so myself and other forward thinking old farts would drive him to and from games.  This also gave us time to watch him work.  After watching him work preseason we asked about equipment and he had his parents ship his gear over.

We have a school here that is in the playoffs every year and after seeing this kid work the head varsity coach asked why he wasn't working not only varsity games, but the important games?  Not enough experience is the wrong excuse.

Another kid worked for me at the age of 18 in a fall ball tournament, varsity baseball game, and you could just see it.  He was getting ready to go to school and still did the stiff school mechanics.  But man was he good already.  He went to school, was selected and worked a season in Az.   He came back to me the following year and I was watching this kid work, so much smoother.  An old fart coach came up to me and asked if the kid was a pro and said that he just absolutely stood out from all of the other umpires.  I used him in the championship game on the dish.  Now this might have been fall ball, but it is a premiere high school varsity baseball tournament,  It's good enough to have a waiting list of schools and I use almost exclusively community college and pro umpires.

My point is, if the younger generation is good enough, work them over the older guys if they're better.  The millennial excuse is old.  

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3 minutes ago, umpstu said:

if the younger generation is good enough, work them over the older guys if they're better

AGREE 100%.  I do believe I stated "if the shoe fits". I too have a former JR umpire, went to the school, and currently in the CPL.  I have no doubt that if he doesn't move up this year, he will be doing high level varsity ball during his first year in our HS chapter (next year) before he has to report.  Some got it, some don't.  Some work for it, some won't.

 

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Maybe I should start another thread but I think my question is related.  

I love all the advice here about advancing.  My scenario is I got started real late doing my youngest's LL games.  No as I approach 60 I have more time and am looking toward retirement in a few years to do a lot more umpiring.  All I've done is youth ball and LL - is there any chance for me to get into HS level ball?   

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For the basic question - for HokieUmp, LLC only - my only advancement is to the college ranks.  And for the "why is it hard" question, it's several things, but mostly, the answer would be "*I'm* the problem."  The first time I was in Virginia, there was still some "old boy" hindrances, in that the commish and others seemed to feel they had to vouch for you, or otherwise "sign off" on those that wanted to go the college route.  And they held pretty firm to dues-paying - but in my opinion, sometimes overly so;  if someone's good enough, they should get that look, regardless of tenure.  @Umpire in Chief could speak to that, if he wants - we were in the same group a number of years, and he was one of my first partners in EOA.

That seemed to change in my second run - they weren't as concerned.  In fact, the attitude seemed to change to "if you want to do college, do it - it makes us look better!"  And that's when I thought about it, but chose not to.  Why?  Well, at least in Virginia, it seemed, the college games were controlled by a couple guys.  And they all wanted you to attend their clinics.  Smart or hard-headed, I chose not to attend yet more clinics, and spend more money, for a "firm maybe" of anything coming of it.  This will never be my living, but something I want to enjoy.  And doing what I just mentioned was going to push more of the joy out of it.  Do I lack ambition?  Probably, based on that and my "real" job.  Can I still get games?  Yeah - and not just because of a shortage of umpires, but because my assignors know they can send me about anywhere, and there likely won't be a SH*#storm nor a series of phone calls about "THAT F*#King guy!"  (I *am* now a cowboy, though, per my War Story.)

And moving doesn't help, since one "restarts" every time one moves.  Since I started in 2003, I've lived in Australia (03-06), Virginia (07-11), Japan (11-14), Virginia (14-18), and Texas (-present).  And health can stop people, too.  But for me, I guess I allowed it to be harder, and was unwilling to do the things needed to work with a totally different group.

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2 minutes ago, agdz59 said:

Maybe I should start another thread but I think my question is related.  

I love all the advice here about advancing.  My scenario is I got started real late doing my youngest's LL games.  No as I approach 60 I have more time and am looking toward retirement in a few years to do a lot more umpiring.  All I've done is youth ball and LL - is there any chance for me to get into HS level ball?   

You absolutely can.  I just turned 54, and I'm certainly not on edge of the age-graph in my group here!

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I view this as somewhat of a loaded question because the avenues to advance and move up are so varied and there are so many variables.  Here are some random takes and perspectives.

Ive been, at times for a brief minute, been jealous of others who have broken into upper level college baseball.  But that brief moment of jealousy goes away when I remember they went to pro school, toiled in the minors for a while, and then busted a$$ to get on the radar in college.  That entails significant travel and personal sacrifices.  When we see those guys on tv working a NCAA regional, super regional, and/or CWS we sometimes don't also think of all the sacrifices they made over the prior 10-30 years to get to that point.  Nothing wrong with sacrifices, but there's only so much time in the day and we all choose where and how to best spend it.  Even the idea of breaking into JUCO/D3 type college games doesn't do much for me when I think of all the sacrifices.  I can't work afternoon weekday games and am not willing to drive significant distances.  I have a friend trying to break into college football and our other friends are confused and baffled by the distances he drives for a D3 game on a weekend.  But those are the sacrifices you have to make.

Politics and the good ol boys network can be a double edged sword.  Once you get into that group or impress some of those people and it benefits your career, we don't also say "hey I'm so lucky to be politically connected."  

Our state association puts on baseball clinics in a few areas of the state each February and March.  They are a complete joke - disorganized, poor instruction....basically a complete waste of time.  I haven't been to one in a while but I know my lack of presence every year hurts my state tournament chances and my ability to get my name out to people with the state.  Its hard for me to go to these when it feels like a giant ripoff.  But the guys who march in line and show up and pay get better opportunities.  

I don't think advancing to the point of a good high school umpire is all that hard.  A lot of us work high school in a small area where all the top guys are known.  Most are serious umpires who enjoy the profession and craft and at the end of the day want to work with strong partners they can trust in a big game.  Just don't do anything stupid and piss off important people and moving up to be a top varsity level umpire is not that hard.  I think sometimes where guys can be better which will help their advancement includes thinking and acting like a top umpire in terms of presence, handling situations, and being a good crew mate.  

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53 minutes ago, HokieUmp said:

The first time I was in Virginia, there was still some "old boy" hindrances, in that the commish and others seemed to feel they had to vouch for you, or otherwise "sign off" on those that wanted to go the college route.  And they held pretty firm to dues-paying - but in my opinion, sometimes overly so;  if someone's good enough, they should get that look, regardless of tenure.  @Umpire in Chief could speak to that, if he wants - we were in the same group a number of years, and he was one of my first partners in EOA.

Yes there was a significant good ol boy system at that time. When that group wouldn't consider me for college ball I went out and got it on my own, and while I don't want to say I had consequences, it didn't help me (with them) and I'd term it as being politically damaged. (Old school politics involved with it that pre-dated me and some people couldn't let it go)

58 minutes ago, HokieUmp said:

That seemed to change in my second run - they weren't as concerned.  In fact, the attitude seemed to change to "if you want to do college, do it - it makes us look better!"  And that's when I thought about it, but chose not to.  Why?  Well, at least in Virginia, it seemed, the college games were controlled by a couple guys.  And they all wanted you to attend their clinics.  Smart or hard-headed, I chose not to attend yet more clinics, and spend more money, for a "firm maybe" of anything coming of it. 

It did make a change. Overall for the better. They gave guys shots at college ball and advancing, and let them have a try and see how they do, they would put the rookie on a crew with 2 vets that wouldn't let the rookie flounder. They even did this for me, I had several years of college exp but the first few games on the field for them they put me on a stacked crew to mitigate any damage I could do. 

For some it was a one-time shot, for others, it gave them the opportunity to challenge themselves and prove they could do it. 

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1 hour ago, agdz59 said:

Maybe I should start another thread but I think my question is related.  

I love all the advice here about advancing.  My scenario is I got started real late doing my youngest's LL games.  No as I approach 60 I have more time and am looking toward retirement in a few years to do a lot more umpiring.  All I've done is youth ball and LL - is there any chance for me to get into HS level ball?   

You can absolutely do it. 

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1 hour ago, agdz59 said:

Maybe I should start another thread but I think my question is related.  

I love all the advice here about advancing.  My scenario is I got started real late doing my youngest's LL games.  No as I approach 60 I have more time and am looking toward retirement in a few years to do a lot more umpiring.  All I've done is youth ball and LL - is there any chance for me to get into HS level ball?   

Getting anybody young nowadays is a real chore so I would advise you to either contact your local high school association or, if there is no local association, contact the closest high school varsity baseball coach.   The coach should be able to point you in the right direction.  Or, even better,  attend a high school game and talk with the umpires.  Try to sit in during their pre game and post game.  Keep your mouth shut unless asked to speak.  And get contact info for their association.

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2 hours ago, HokieUmp said:

You absolutely can.  I just turned 54, and I'm certainly not on edge of the age-graph in my group here!

Dude, you would be considered one of the young umpires to join our association.  I swear our new guys are all over 65.  I call them sir just to piss them off.  

 

5 hours ago, Richvee said:

Hell, when I played town little league, you had to try out to make a team in the league. Some kids got cut! Imagine the outrage in today's society if that were to happen? 

When you started Abner Doubleday was the coach and all of the kids had their own handlebar moustaches.  Image result for baseball handlebar moustaches

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At least UIC was honest in how he got his first varsity game. That same scenario with another 60+ umpire in many areas who was in the right place at the right time, would turn into a story to all the young guys of how hard it was to move up and get their first varsity game in the old days when they started and how much time he had to put in just to make varsity. Many places are indentured servitude.

Like that State on the Ocean that made a former AAA umpire go start out with the first year umpire cadet program after working 1000+ professional games? Basically like making him go back to umpire school again.

Once again old heads with that indentured servitude attitude to keep their own games and keep the newer guys out, while a lot of them got a quick break years ago like UIC, and not too long ago I read about a guy who was finally getting a JV game after either 6 or 9 years in Middle School. Assuming his availability or skill level was not just out of this world horrible, that is way to long. But if that is what he enjoyed, my hat is off to him.

Sometimes, you just might need to set a time limit, just like in a real job for a promotion, and if things do not work out, either switch to another group, or maybe even take up another sport. Volleyball anyone. Out of the elements. Games quicker?? or Go for linesmen or chair umpire at the US Open. Many of the guys and girls (Chair) you see make 70,000  pounds (87k US) to 180,000 (oops 170,000) (211,000k US)  pounds per year???????????????? depending on seniority and ability. I am still trying to find that article that mentioned the above salary for the Gold Badge Men and Women, because I just about fainted. However, as of right now I can only find the 75k-80k article for the top flight Chair umpires.

A lot work the ATP circuit in which some tournaments are more highly rated, as well as the Majors, Davis Cup, Olympics, Laver Cup, etc.

aha found it.

https://www.sportseon.com/money/tennis-chair-and-line-umpires-salaries/

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