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I am hanging it up


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After 25 years of being an ump I have decided to retire. I am 46 years old and in great shape, still love to ump but have had enough of everything outside of the lines. 
 

- travel baseball is destroying the sport. Complexes are now telling umps they can’t eject without permission, coaches and parents are allowed to act crazy and say anything to us, as long as they pay that money no one seems to care. 
 

- I am sick and tired of working solo and not getting both paychecks. I am doing the work of 2 people why am I not getting paid for it?

- started carrying a gun in my car this year after a fellow ump was attacked in the parking lot by a coach who had a bat. If I need to carry a gun to work what does that say about my job?

It’s been a great ride and I salute you boys for doing what you are doing but for me it’s enough and I have too much pride to be treated like this by people who don’t care. 

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39 minutes ago, ousafe said:

Sorry man. I totally get it. Probably why I've been sticking to school ball - very civilized in our area.

Same for me. As I look into moving out of a major metro I worry that the youth LL (or equivalent) won't be as sane as mine and if I have to expand to travel to get the number of games I want.

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12 hours ago, umpstu said:

I refuse to work travel ball.  It is everything that is wrong with youth sports and I made a citizens arrest the last travel ball game I worked back in January. No more.

That's not really a thing is it? Isn't it like objecting at the wedding?

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@Dottelife, I am sorry to hear it but I totally get it.  Some days I think I am getting close to that point also.

The culture is out of whack and it feels like the ONLY thing we can do to fight back is to quit.  I'm not saying quit everything, but maybe @umpstu's approach is it.  If you know teams, coaches, schools, TDs, or facilities that are constant issues, DO NOT WORK THERE.  If you know they are one-umpire games, DO NOT WORK THEM. 

While I will agree there is a shortage of officials, that is NOT the cause of this problem.  It is the result.  One of the causes is too many games being scheduled and tournament directors who have figured out they can blame the umpire shortage while pocketing more money.  Then they cater to the problem coaches and parents to keep that revenue coming in.  

I know there are many on here who think working one-man is acceptable, but I am adamant that we need to SAY NO.  I understand there are times when something happens and we have to push forward or finish a game solo, but WE NEED TO STOP ACCEPTING SOLO CONTRACTS, even if it is for slightly more pay.  We do not need to work those games.  We do not "have" to work those games. 

If you know TDs or facilities that are not supporting their umpires, DO NOT WORK THERE.  There have been teams I have "blacklisted" before.  I would not work for those schools until their coaches or their ADs left.  Eventually, other umps began blacklisting them, too.  I would get calls from them and turn them down.  Finally, the AD asked me why I wouldn't work there ... I told her it was because of her coach and how he treats people.  She said, "Yeah ... that's why I'm always looking for officials and seems to be why I can't you guys {her regulars and veterans} anymore."

I have two tournaments/facilities I have blacklisted because they did not support us on ejections.  In one case, the tournament rules stated an ejected coach could not come back the next game.  We had a dual ejection (HC and AC) which involved them both becoming aggressive towards us.  After the game the TD came to us and said "Well, their team advanced so we wanted to see what you guys thought about letting them coach tomorrow morning.  They said if they can't, their team may not show up."  My partner and I wished the TD luck on finding a replacement for us on such short notice.  We both gave up four games and enjoyed having Sunday off.

Do not be afraid to turn down games.  Do not worry about who is going to work them.  Lean on your local associations to get more involved in actually becoming advocate organizations for umpires, not just booking agents for tournament directors and hosts for paid training.

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@Dottelife, sorry to see you hang them up--but I get the sentiment.

I've intentionally limited myself to LL, Legion, and a few local tournaments where I personally know the TD. There's a men's league in the area that (as I'm told) pays really well, but all the other umpires I know locally have war stories to tell about how adults, alcohol, and lack of moral checks make for a bad mix at games for umpires. Didn't take me long to tell them, you can keep the money--I'm not doing men's league games.

I agree with the sentiments of others here--travel ball is killing youth baseball in many ways. Driving umpires out of the sport is just another facet. Listen here, parent:  I understand you paid thousands of dollars for team fees, you've paid hundreds of dollars on bats (USSSA, USA Baseball, and maybe wood) and other equipment. Your son is 12. He's not going to get drafted this year; he's not getting scouted by NCAA Div I schools. Maybe stop acting like an @$$. Coach, you're probably getting paid (see team fees), but face it:  you're not going to get scouted by teams at your age. Maybe start acting like you know the rules and respect the authority over the game of the folks that know them better than you.

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I was a volunteer umpire for 34 years.  I did mostly Little League.  I was a considered a pretty good ump by my peers, District, and home league.  (Did WR Regionals.)  After the Pandemic, somehow people felt their kids were entitled to all the calls after a year hiatus--that their little kids were still All Stars even with a year off.  Thus, calls that didn't go their way were met with some of the most vituperative commentary I have ever heard.  (And THEIR interpretations of the rules were from Calvin Ball!)

I'm pretty fit for 73, but I felt that even if I had lost a step, I wasn't going to be the umpire I know I could be.  So rather than risk becoming a mediocre umpire, I decided it was not worth my volunteer effort to raise my blood pressure unnecessarily for some bozo parent's trying to relive his youth through his kid.

So I quit after 34 years.

Mike

Las Vegas

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On 11/6/2022 at 3:02 PM, The Man in Blue said:

@Dottelife, I am sorry to hear it but I totally get it.  Some days I think I am getting close to that point also.

The culture is out of whack and it feels like the ONLY thing we can do to fight back is to quit.  I'm not saying quit everything, but maybe @umpstu's approach is it.  If you know teams, coaches, schools, TDs, or facilities that are constant issues, DO NOT WORK THERE.  If you know they are one-umpire games, DO NOT WORK THEM. 

While I will agree there is a shortage of officials, that is NOT the cause of this problem.  It is the result.  One of the causes is too many games being scheduled and tournament directors who have figured out they can blame the umpire shortage while pocketing more money.  Then they cater to the problem coaches and parents to keep that revenue coming in.  

I know there are many on here who think working one-man is acceptable, but I am adamant that we need to SAY NO.  I understand there are times when something happens and we have to push forward or finish a game solo, but WE NEED TO STOP ACCEPTING SOLO CONTRACTS, even if it is for slightly more pay.  We do not need to work those games.  We do not "have" to work those games. 

If you know TDs or facilities that are not supporting their umpires, DO NOT WORK THERE.  There have been teams I have "blacklisted" before.  I would not work for those schools until their coaches or their ADs left.  Eventually, other umps began blacklisting them, too.  I would get calls from them and turn them down.  Finally, the AD asked me why I wouldn't work there ... I told her it was because of her coach and how he treats people.  She said, "Yeah ... that's why I'm always looking for officials and seems to be why I can't you guys {her regulars and veterans} anymore."

I have two tournaments/facilities I have blacklisted because they did not support us on ejections.  In one case, the tournament rules stated an ejected coach could not come back the next game.  We had a dual ejection (HC and AC) which involved them both becoming aggressive towards us.  After the game the TD came to us and said "Well, their team advanced so we wanted to see what you guys thought about letting them coach tomorrow morning.  They said if they can't, their team may not show up."  My partner and I wished the TD luck on finding a replacement for us on such short notice.  We both gave up four games and enjoyed having Sunday off.

Do not be afraid to turn down games.  Do not worry about who is going to work them.  Lean on your local associations to get more involved in actually becoming advocate organizations for umpires, not just booking agents for tournament directors and hosts for paid training.

I no longer work travel ball period.  But, there hasn't been 2 umpires on under class games for ages now.  At least 20 years.  It coincided with no more school buses for kids and parents having to drive kids to school.

As I've been here for over 25 years as a high school and college umpire I really enjoy working lower level one man games.  Kids need umpires at this level and refusing to work games isn't something I agree with in our situation. $87.  2.5 hour time limit or 2 hours if it is a conference game.

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@Dottelifesorry to hear it, but I can understand. Here is my $0.02 on the umpire "shortage". 

Yes, parents/coaches/players can all be A$$hats, but... In my opinion, it comes down to a cost/benefit analysis. Umpiring for most of us is just an "Avocation" not a "vocation". It is not an inexpensive hobby. Uniforms, travel, dues, time all equal $$.  I hate working one man games at any level. It is awful. Not a chance I am getting on the field one man for less than the total of 2 game fees. Will teams/assignors pay that, most likely not, but we as umpires have to remember, they need us. Rarely have I reached out to assignors looking for games. Yet every week, my inbox is filled with emails of guys looking to fill XXX spots at XXX fields this weekend. 

WE need to stand up for ourselves as umpires and as others have said, block schools/teams/coaches/assignors and do not work for them. The rate for a 7inning game should be $170 for 2 umpires at the MINIMUM. When we (collectively) work games for $45-65 each, we are telling the baseball community that is what we are worth. If we continue to take these reduced fees, it will be 10 more years before we get to $100 each. 

I do not know about you guys, but with annual dues/equipment/travel, we need to be figuring that we SPEND $8-15 PER GAME just for the privilege of umpiring. 

DONT SHORT YOURSELF!!! KNOW what you are worth and then take games accordingly.

Rant: off 

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14 hours ago, umpstu said:

I no longer work travel ball period.  But, there hasn't been 2 umpires on under class games for ages now.  At least 20 years.  It coincided with no more school buses for kids and parents having to drive kids to school.

As I've been here for over 25 years as a high school and college umpire I really enjoy working lower level one man games.  Kids need umpires at this level and refusing to work games isn't something I agree with in our situation. $87.  2.5 hour time limit or 2 hours if it is a conference game.

 

OK, I'm intrigued ... what do the school buses have to do with it?  :confused:

We are going to have different takes on it, and that is respectable.  You are coming from the perspective of somebody who has done it for a number of years; I am coming at it as somebody who is just seeing it starting to push into my area.  With the amount of time your areas has accepted it, I can honestly believe (especially since they are underclassman games) the teams have adapted accordingly and you are not seeing the overwhelming issues.  That is not the case in the vast majority of areas.  You also said you don't work travel ball, which is where we are seeing the most issues.

To further my point though, that is sad that your area has just accepted it instead of actually doing something to correct it.  That is my overarching point.  I see too many local tournaments where TDs claim they can't find umpires, but then I find out they didn't reach out to anybody.  We have one guy who has been putting on tournaments in several larger areas within a 3-hour radius.  He typically brings the guys from his home-base area with him and has not bothered to reach out to the local umpires.  Then he complains he can't find umpires.  No, you can, you just didn't.

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23 minutes ago, The Man in Blue said:

 

OK, I'm intrigued ... what do the school buses have to do with it?  :confused:

We are going to have different takes on it, and that is respectable.  You are coming from the perspective of somebody who has done it for a number of years; I am coming at it as somebody who is just seeing it starting to push into my area.  With the amount of time your areas has accepted it, I can honestly believe (especially since they are underclassman games) the teams have adapted accordingly and you are not seeing the overwhelming issues.  That is not the case in the vast majority of areas.  You also said you don't work travel ball, which is where we are seeing the most issues.

To further my point though, that is sad that your area has just accepted it instead of actually doing something to correct it.  That is my overarching point.  I see too many local tournaments where TDs claim they can't find umpires, but then I find out they didn't reach out to anybody.  We have one guy who has been putting on tournaments in several larger areas within a 3-hour radius.  He typically brings the guys from his home-base area with him and has not bothered to reach out to the local umpires.  Then he complains he can't find umpires.  No, you can, you just didn't.

The school buses were cut out at the same time money for athletics were cut out.  Had quite a few schools lose under class men teams altogether.  I believe about half of our schools cut them.

 

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3 hours ago, umpstu said:

The school buses were cut out at the same time money for athletics were cut out.  Had quite a few schools lose under class men teams altogether.  I believe about half of our schools cut them.

 

That makes sense, thank you.  I hate to say that goes back to the original point though ... did one official become the norm because of umpire availability or because schools were cutting budgets?  It sounds like it is the latter.

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2 hours ago, The Man in Blue said:

That makes sense, thank you.  I hate to say that goes back to the original point though ... did one official become the norm because of umpire availability or because schools were cutting budgets?  It sounds like it is the latter.

At the time budgets.  A few years ago we had over 40 umpires in our unit.  Now we're down to under 20 so it's a little of both.  We wouldn't be able to support 2 man on lower levels unless the schools were to really work with us on the schedules.  I have no doubts that they would.

I believe we have 14 schools with different levels and, for me, I travel up to 70 miles to work some high school games. The further distances pay travel pay.

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On 11/8/2022 at 11:11 AM, concertman1971 said:

Umpiring for most of us is just an "Avocation" not a "vocation".

Great post!  The problem (at least around here) is that there are about 50% of the guys that DO need the money.  They just need money regardless of how much, so they will work these games.  So long as they have a warm body out there, these TD couldn't care less of the quality. 

A couple of years ago had a local high school age tournament and it got very, very, testy--almost came to blows.  The TD was desperate for umpires so the day before and the days of the three day event he had increased the pay, but only to the guys that were last additions, not the guys previously committed.  It was played at 5 different college/HS fields around the city.  Word got out (as you knew it would) that some of the umpires were making between $10-$35 more per game.  The guys that were making $50 were not pleased to hear that the other guy on the field was making $80. When it came time to pay there was a huge confrontation to the point police had to be called.  The TD's position remained that "hey, you guys agreed to $50, they didn't".

To your point.  If everyone stands together these issues will resolve themselves.

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32 minutes ago, aaluck said:

Great post!  The problem (at least around here) is that there are about 50% of the guys that DO need the money.  They just need money regardless of how much, so they will work these games.  So long as they have a warm body out there, these TD couldn't care less of the quality. 

A couple of years ago had a local high school age tournament and it got very, very, testy--almost came to blows.  The TD was desperate for umpires so the day before and the days of the three day event he had increased the pay, but only to the guys that were last additions, not the guys previously committed.  It was played at 5 different college/HS fields around the city.  Word got out (as you knew it would) that some of the umpires were making between $10-$35 more per game.  The guys that were making $50 were not pleased to hear that the other guy on the field was making $80. When it came time to pay there was a huge confrontation to the point police had to be called.  The TD's position remained that "hey, you guys agreed to $50, they didn't".

To your point.  If everyone stands together these issues will resolve themselves.

I assign 2 local high school tournaments and try to lure college and pro umpires to work them.  Despite what level umpire they are I pay all the same and they all have a check in hand before they leave the area.  And have been told by some of the pro ump's that the pitching and catching is as good or better than the Az instructional league. It's good ball and there is a waiting list for high schools to get in.

As far as ejections go, I always tell guys to not be dicks but if a coach ejects himself he ejects himself.  And I believe those schools are not invited back.

MADMAX, this is your invite to the Coachella Valley the weekend of 9-11 Dec.

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Heard a great line at the college group meeting here in TN. One of the assignors, (a CWS umpire) said, "if one of these coaches sees you in the summer working games for $85, why would he pay you $600 for a non con game?"

While i may not agree in entirety with the coaches statement, I understand that mentality. We fight for pay increases, then because we are not a cohesive unit, we end up shooting ourselves in the foot 

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1 hour ago, concertman1971 said:

Heard a great line at the college group meeting here in TN. One of the assignors, (a CWS umpire) said, "if one of these coaches sees you in the summer working games for $85, why would he pay you $600 for a non con game?"

While i may not agree in entirety with the coaches statement, I understand that mentality. We fight for pay increases, then because we are not a cohesive unit, we end up shooting ourselves in the foot 

Time for a little perspective.  When I started working D1 games in SoCal. the pay was $40 per game.  And, hold your breath, $45 if it was a conference game.  Also, while I'm at it, one of the reasons umpire pay is low is because umpire associations keep screwing each other by offering a league to do games at a lower than the prevailing price.

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