Game Rituals

Umpire Game Rituals & Responsibilities

How do umpires prepare for games? What do they need to do? Hopefully this will guide you on your way to being a successful umpire.

General Baseball Umpire lingo

  • PU – plate umpire

  • BU -- base umpire in a 2 man crew

  • BR – batter/runner. This is the batter who has just put the ball in play

  • R1 – runner starting on 1s​ t​ base at beginning of play

  • R2 – runner starting on 2n​ d​ base at beginning of play

  • R3 – runner starting on 3r​ d​ base at beginning of play

  • CBO – continuous batting order

General Responsibilities

These are the generally agreed upon responsibilities for the plate and base umpire. Some of these are open to discussion when you pre-game with your partner.

  • Both PU and BU

    • PU and BU are responsible for safety. Offensive players must have a helmet on when in the field of play. No “on deck” batters – only one player has a bat at a time.

    • PU or BU accompany the coach/manager on injury visits. These will not be charged as a pitcher visit unless game strategy is discussed. Keep the other players away.

    • PU or BU can call “Time!” to suspend play.

    • PU and BU are responsible for interference and obstruction calls. Know the difference and how to apply it.

    • BU and PU are responsible for managing the managers/coaches. One adult must always be in the dugout (if players are present). Only 1 Manager and 2 coaches.

  • PU responsibilities

    • PU can put the ball in play. Only the PU can do this.

    • PU has all ball/strike calls.

  • BU responsibilities

    • BU responsible for plays, touches, and tagups at 1s​t​, 2n​d​ and 3rd

    • BU can assist PU on check swings (usually only done from A on right handed batters on a 2 man crew). Wait until the PU asks for help. Do not respond to coach or catcher queries. Signal safe (no swing) or strike (a swing).


Signals for two-man crews

  • Infield fly. Generally tipping the cap with fingers indicating the number of out (0 or 1).

  • Wipe off infield fly. Using right hand to wipe down the left arm from shoulder to hand.

  • I’ve lost the count. PU double-taps the top of his/her head. BU discreetly flashes the count (left hand balls, right hand strikes).

  • I have some information for you. When a manager has been granted time to talk to your partner about a play, and you have information that may help your partner uphold or overturn his/her decision (pulled foot, swipe tag), hold your hand over your belt buckle. Your partner can dismiss the manager and you can conference alone. An umpire overturns his/her own call. Never overrule an umpire.

Plate Meeting

No fewer than 5 minutes before game time, the PU should hold a plate meeting. The plate meeting involves the umpires and one manager or coach from each team (in post season they often bring a team captain as well).

The pneumonic to help remember the steps involved in the plate meeting is ​LEGS​ – Lineups, equipment, ground rules, and safety/sportsmanship. We don't exchange lineup cards during the regular season.

  • Lineups

    • Ask the manager of any ineligible pitchers.

    • Players arriving late (for CBO) will be appended to the end of the lineup when they arrive.

  • Equipment

    • Ask each manager, and do not proceed until you get a clear “YES” answer, “Are your players properly equipped to play their position and does your equipment meet Little League standards?”

  • Ground Rules

    • Quickly cover the rule variations in play for this level

    • Take a look around the field, noting any ground rules.

    • Remind the managers that baseballs that become lodged in holes, bounce under, over, or lodged in fences should be handled by players throwing up their hands.

    • The umpires can then assess any base awards.

  • Safety/Sportsmanship

    • Tell the managers to have the players hustle on and off the field. (One minute or 8 pitch warmup; whatever comes first)

    • Remind them we expect sportsmanship and good behavior.

    • Wish them luck, shake hands or bump fists, and send them back to the dugouts.

The plate meeting should take no more than a couple minutes.

Give the pitcher a minute to warm up, clean the plate, and get the game going. “PLAY!”

Equipment inspection

Equipment found in violation or poor condition must be removed from field of play. Find the kid’s parents and let them take care of it. Under no circumstances should the equipment be returned to the dugout.

What to check for:

  • Bats

    • Non-wood bats must have a USA bat logo (Majors and below).

    • Check for roundness (no dents), splits, cracks, the end cap (if any) is secure

    • Any tape or rubber hand grip is secure

    • NO PINE TAR. Travel players may have pine tar on their bats. Little League expressly prohibits any pine tar.

    • Wood bats – hold by the barrel and tap the handle on the ground, listening for vibrations.

  • Helmets

    • NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) stamp on the helmet.

    • No stickers (unless approved by the manufacturer in writing), paint, pine tar, or writing on the helmet, for 2 reasons: 1) stickers could hide cracks, and 2) glue and sharpies contain solvents that can weaken the plastic. The helmet manufacturer would void the warranty – don’t let a kid play with it.

    • Look for stress lines on the plastic. Gently pull the ear flaps away from the center of the helmet, looking for stress cracks at the brim where it meets the ear flaps.

    • Foam on the inside must be in good shape and covering the ear flap. o No modifications to the helmet, in the form of screws or drill holes.

    • C-flaps – must be from the same manufacturer of the helmet.

  • Catcher’s gear

    • All the helmet rules apply to catcher’s helmets

    • Helmet has a dangler, and a ball cannot fit between the dangler and the helmet chin.

    • All screws holding wirecage to mask are in place and tightened. These have a tendency to come loose during the season.

    • The team should have at least 2 catcher’s helmets. Inspect them all.

    • The straps and fasteners are secure.

    • Check shin guards and check protectors for straps and hooks.