BY BARRY WARNER
Character, good judgment plus the ability to get along with young baseball players and coaches are the attributes of an excellent volunteer umpire. This individual commands respect, knows the rules of the game, reacts spontaneously to play situations and makes decisive calls. Common sense applied to the interpretation of the Baseball Rule Book is also a sign of a well-prepared official.
Bob Engel, Secretary of the Rockland County Umpire’s Association told The Rockland County Times, “Josh is the quintessential example of an Unsung Hero. He is a consummate professional umpire, who is unprepossessing and selfless with his time with less experienced umpires. He is always receptive to becoming a better umpire, so he never acts as though he has arrived. He is always quick to volunteer for the organization when it needs him with or without ever complaining. Josh is a compassionate human being with empathy toward all those he comes in contact with.”
“I graduated from SUNY Buffalo and currently, I am teaching Special Education at Felix Festa Middle School. I enjoyed playing in the West Nyack Little League as a youngster, so I wanted to give back to the community and ‘pay it forward’ as a home plate umpire. To prepare, I went through training with the Rockland County Umpire’s Association and read the Rule Book. I served as an umpire in 2006 and came back years later, because I love what I do. Maintaining the safety of the eleven to twelve year old baseball players and the integrity of the game are very important. Before the game, I meet with both coaches and field partner umpire to establish myself as approachable, consistent and knowledgeable of the rules” said Josh Enhorn. “If coaches challenge my ball or strike call, I explain that we can disagree respectfully without screaming at each other. Being a good umpire doesn’t mean being perfect, but it means being well-prepared and treating each other with respect. Communication is just not talking, because it also means listening to the coach’s argument and giving a thoughtful response. I keep a consistent strike-zone and try to be confident and decisive in my calls. Someday, I hope to be an umpire at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. The West Nyack Little League season opens on April 1, 2017. PLAY BALL!”
The umpire uniform is fairly standard and includes a navy blue or black collared shirt, dark-colored pants, black shoes, black belt and Umpire’s cap. The home plate umpire must be equipped with some additional gear and accessories that include the facemask and throat protector, chest protector, shin guards, ball bag (affixed to the belt), plate brush, a copy of the rule book and a count indicator to keep track of the outs and the count.
According to the website www.mukilteolittleleague.com , to be a Great Little League Umpire:
- Care About Your Appearance- A neat appearance projects authority and dignity and a respect that you are taking this game seriously. Keep your gear clean and in good condition and wear it correctly.
- Have a Strong Pregame- The time you spend with your partner confirming positions, rules questions, team tendencies and tactics will help you manage the game. It will help you on your individual responsibilities and your work as a team.
- Control Your Emotions- No matter how good you may think it will feel to talk back to a coach or a fan, it is not an option. You need to be a calming presence.
- Admit Your Errors- Mistakes happen and if you never admit a mistake, you lose credibility. If you know the error occurred, admit it as the coach won’t have much to say after that.
- Listen to Coaches- Tuning out worthless rants is a good thing. Many coaches understand the game and if you tune them out completely, you might miss out on a chance to elevate your performance.
- Consider Whether to Respond- If you decide to respond to coaches’ comments, sometimes the right response is non-verbal. Nod your head, glance in the direction of the coach, shake your head or hold up a stop sign.
- Talk to Players- It’s tough to work a game well and not communicate with players. Whether it’s an acknowledgement of sporting behavior by the player or a stern discussion with opponents over an issue, talking to players can be a good thing.
- Anticipate the Play- Having a feel for what play is coming and adjusting your positioning will help you see the play better. As a result, you’ll get it right more often.
In the sport of baseball officiating, there is nothing more critical than learning how to deliver consistent performances behind the plate. There is a very big difference between catching the ball and receiving it. The inexperienced catchers stab at the ball and pull pitches into the strike zone. Experienced catchers hold their targets and physically pull the pitch into their mitts. An important skill in working the plate is negotiating the area immediately behind the catcher to achieve the best positions to judge pitches. In an ideal situation to call balls and strikes, the home plate umpire uses the ‘slot’ position. This is the area just behind the catcher, where the umpire takes a position in the open space between the batter and the inside corner of the plate.
For additional information go to www.rocklandcountyumpires.org or call Bob Engel at 845-269-2784.
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