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Umpire in Chief

Professional baseball lightning rule

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On 10/22/2019 at 9:44 PM, LRZ said:

(1) You mean, as an independent contractor? You paint with too broad a brush.

(2) Read what I wrote (and would say): "seek shelter," not "get off the field we're playing on."

(3) As a lawyer, yes, I would say I have a strong defense. I have no duty, as the umpire, beyond verifying to the teams that there is a lightning risk and that they should seek shelter.

Moreover, are there no adults present? Parents and coaches, who would think "so we thought we were safe"? C'mon!

 

Ah, memories.

I once was umpiring a game at a field next to a golf course and had a lightning delay with no rain, which stayed north. Adult players from both teams were socializing in various ways on the field while I kinda nervously watched lightning flashing away every minute or so from the press box. I told everyone that by rule they had to be in the dugout during weather delays unless they were outside the fence. The league had this among the rules for umpires at site managers for administering weather delays:  

B. When lightning is observed or thunder is heard and the contest is suspended, contestants shall not return to the playing field until lightning has been absent from the local sky and thunder has not been heard for 30 minutes.

There was a lot of grumbling and complaining as they all complied. About five minutes later a tree on the golf course down the left field line about 100 feet outside the fence exploded from a strike from a bolt of lightning.  When we resumed an hour later, I didn't hear any complaints the rest of the game about my judgment.

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11 minutes ago, andydufresne said:

Ah, memories.

I once was umpiring a game at a field next to a golf course and had a lightning delay with no rain, which stayed north. Adult players from both teams were socializing in various ways on the field while I kinda nervously watched lightning flashing away every minute or so from the press box. I told everyone that by rule they had to be in the dugout during weather delays unless they were outside the fence. The league had this among the rules for umpires at site managers for administering weather delays:  

B. When lightning is observed or thunder is heard and the contest is suspended, contestants shall not return to the playing field until lightning has been absent from the local sky and thunder has not been heard for 30 minutes.

There was a lot of grumbling and complaining as they all complied. About five minutes later a tree on the golf course down the left field line about 100 feet outside the fence exploded from a strike from a bolt of lightning.  When we resumed an hour later, I didn't hear any complaints the rest of the game about my judgment.

Not one of those chain link dugouts, right?

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"Have your team seek shelter" has always been "MY" out.  I'm not directing anyone to go anywhere.  My luck, as soon as I did, lighting would strike that location and now I'm held liable. Nope , no way!

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This one a little close to home for me - A former teammate of mine was killed by lightning, at the age of 19, while playing a tournament...the strike knocked several fielders to the ground, and he took the brunt...another 26 people were injured.  However, though it followed a rain delay, there was apparently no discernible thunder or warning - but it was followed by a furore of all the governing bodies changing their rules and training for lightning.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/tragedy-strikes-but-hope-lives-on/article4274803/

It, to this day, boggles my mind when coaches, players and their F*#King parents want to continue playing in this weather.

I've had parents upset at me for cancelling a practice due to lightning.   Idiots.

Yes, the facility manager can and should close the fields, regardless of what the ump thinks.

Yes, the umpire should suspend the game, regardless of what the facility manager thinks.

In a tournament, the TD can/should also suspend play, regardless of what the ump or facility manager think.

If an umpire, facility manager, tournament director, league official says the game is suspended, it's suspended.   Any one of them should be able to call the game...no one of them should be able to force the game to continue.  As said before...fine, play the game, but this field is closed so do it somewhere else.

As a coach, if you're not willing to risk forfeiting a game where a cowboy umpire wants to keep going, to get your players to safety, you need to take a good long look in the mirror.

As a parent, if you're not willing to pull your kid off the field when everyone else is being an idiot, you need to take a good long look in the mirror.

If the safety of those kids is not the top priority for someone then who's being the adult?

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@beerguy55 that brought tears to eyes and it is too early in the morning for that.  Thank you for sharing it.

It is nice to have somebody with a first-hand experience relaying this information though.  Too many times these stories become anecdotal or are too far removed for people to really believe them.

I work for a utility and public safety outreach and education is part of my job.  It never ceases to amaze me the risks people take around electricity because they don’t know or don’t understand the VERY REAL danger.

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2 hours ago, Aging_Arbiter said:

"Have your team seek shelter" has always been "MY" out.  I'm not directing anyone to go anywhere.  My luck, as soon as I did, lighting would strike that location and now I'm held liable. Nope , no way!


That is very sound advice.  The facility should have an evacuation plan.  The umpire’s job is to suspend the game and clear the field.

In the situation presented of seeing the team move to another field: yes they are out of the field jurisdiction of the umpire.  But as a responsible adult and an authority figure contracted by the organization/facility/whomever I still feel you have a responsibility to get people off the fields.  I’m not telling them where to go ... I’m telling them they can’t be there.

Since I mentioned my job in my previous post ... assuming there is not a structure to hold the amount of people there, the best place for them to go is their car.

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On 10/24/2019 at 11:29 AM, beerguy55 said:

This one a little close to home for me - A former teammate of mine was killed by lightning, at the age of 19, while playing a tournament...the strike knocked several fielders to the ground, and he took the brunt...another 26 people were injured.  However, though it followed a rain delay, there was apparently no discernible thunder or warning - but it was followed by a furore of all the governing bodies changing their rules and training for lightning.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/tragedy-strikes-but-hope-lives-on/article4274803/

It, to this day, boggles my mind when coaches, players and their F*#King parents want to continue playing in this weather.

I've had parents upset at me for cancelling a practice due to lightning.   Idiots.

Yes, the facility manager can and should close the fields, regardless of what the ump thinks.

Yes, the umpire should suspend the game, regardless of what the facility manager thinks.

In a tournament, the TD can/should also suspend play, regardless of what the ump or facility manager think.

If an umpire, facility manager, tournament director, league official says the game is suspended, it's suspended.   Any one of them should be able to call the game...no one of them should be able to force the game to continue.  As said before...fine, play the game, but this field is closed so do it somewhere else.

As a coach, if you're not willing to risk forfeiting a game where a cowboy umpire wants to keep going, to get your players to safety, you need to take a good long look in the mirror.

As a parent, if you're not willing to pull your kid off the field when everyone else is being an idiot, you need to take a good long look in the mirror.

If the safety of those kids is not the top priority for someone then who's being the adult?

I always told my rookie Umpires, “Look; suppose you suspend a game for lightning but you didn’t have to. What happens next? They re-schedule the game (something they do all the time.) Now, what if you DIDN’T suspend a game, but should have? What can happen? Something life-changing….When in doubt, get ‘em off the field…..

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