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Umpires

Ask the Umpire

Is there one group or one person that sets the ground rules for each park? How are they determined?
-- JB Willis

Under Official Playing Rule 3.13, the home team manager is responsible for announcing the Ground Rules, none of which may conflict with Official Baseball Rules. However, Major League Baseball is working with a group of umpires to standardize Ground Rules, to make them easier for teams and umpires.

I was just watching the Kerry Wood 20-strikeout replay from May 6, 1998 on ESPN Classic, in which a Houston Astros batter asked the home plate umpire if a thrown pitch that the batter missed for strike three would have been a called third strike anyway, had he not swung at it. Is a home plate umpire actually required to respond to the hitter's hypothetical question if posed to him?

This is a frequent occurrence in professional baseball. After striking out, the batter often asks the plate umpire if he swung at a good pitch. The umpire, although not required to answer, normally responds to the batter's question. By the way, Jerry Meals was the home plate umpire in that classic game at Wrigley Field.

Two strike count on the batter. He squares to bunt. Pitch is inside and batter pulls bat backward to avoid bunting. Ball hits bat and goes into foul territory. Umpire rules foul ball, but since batter was no longer trying to bunt under definitions in 2.00, does not call him out for bunting foul on third strike. Defensive coach call for plate umpire to appeal to his partner as in a check swing: Did he go? Since Rule 9.02 states appeal of this nature is allowed on a called ball only, umpire refuses the request to appeal. Coach hot under collar claiming anything other than a strike can be appealed and since the foul occurred on a two strike pitch, it was not a strike. Good call by ump?
-- Alan

If there was a question as to whether the batter offered at the pitch, the plate umpire could -- and should -- appeal to his partner as provided in Official Baseball Rule 9.02(c).

In the American League where they use the DH, can the manager move the starting/relieving pitcher to the DH, then later in the game allow the DH to once again be the pitcher?
-- Ron

No, once the pitcher pinch-hits for the DH (which is the only person the pitcher can pinch-hit for), such a move terminates the DH for the rest of the game. This is provided in Official Baseball Rule 6.10.

With game tied in bottom of the 9th inning, batter hits a home run but fails to touch third base while rounding it. Although the third base coach is yelling at him, he can't hear his instructions due to the noise and jubilation. Coach runs after runner, grabs his arm to gather his attention, and sends him back to touch third base. Since the ball is dead due to the home run, can coach's interference occur on this play?
-- Steve

Yes, and the batter-runner should be called out.

I have a question regarding pitching. Is there any rule that stipulates that a pitcher must be either right-handed or left-handed?

No, there is no such rule.

Based on the answer to the first question: If not, it is feasible to say that a pitcher could deliver the ball right-handed one pitch and then left-handed on the next?

Ambidextrous pitchers are rare but do exist. An example was Greg Harris, who pitched with the Boston Red Sox. When such pitchers pitch in the Major Leagues, they must pitch with the same hand during a batter's entire at-bat. Such pitchers may change pitching hand for the next batter, but again must continue with that arm for that batter's entire at-bat.

If there are glove stipulations, could a manufactured glove that fit either hand be worn?
-- Nicholas K. Kruse

This would be legal under the rules, provided such a glove meets the specifications outlined in Official Baseball Rules 1.14 and 1.15.

What are the advantages/disadvantages to the various umpire positions behind home plate (the chair, the scissors and the knee); and should all umpires use the same position?
-- TC

At the Major League level, we have no restrictions as to which stance an umpire uses behind the plate. Umpires may use any stance they feel best suited to view the pitch and handle other responsibilities such as covering foul pop-ups and covering bases.

I just saw your umpire page on MLB.com. It's great. I have a question which has been bothering me for some time. Following situation: 1 out, runners on second and third. Batter hits single, runner on third scores, runner on second attempts to score but gets thrown out at the plate, batter/runner runs to second on play home. Catcher then throws to first as batter/runner did not touch first base. Appeal is granted and batter/runner is declared out. Does the run count and why? I read this question in a magazine and the answer they gave was that the run would not count as the third out is a force play at first. I don't think that's right but can't find the rule to argue with.
-- jp, switzerland

No runs would score in the play you describe. The answer is found in Official Baseball Rule 4.09(a): "A run is not scored if the runner advances to home base during a play in which the third out is made by the batter-runner before he touches first base." The very play in your question is discussed in the Approved Ruling following Official Baseball Rule 4.09(b).

Can Major League umpires eject a fan? If so, how?
-- TF

Umpires are entrusted with maintaining discipline and order on the playing field, and sometimes fans can interfere with order on the field. Security at the Major League level normally precludes the necessity of an umpire causing a fan to be removed, but this does happen on rare occasion. Umpires are thick-skinned by nature and ignore comments-however inflammatory-from fans.

I just wanted to let the umpires know what a wonderful job they did out there this year. Especially during the playoffs and the World Series. You guys (umpires) don't get a lot of credit and only get noticed if you make a mistake. I wanted to let you all know that you are appreciated for the great job you do out there and how your level of professionalism makes the game as great as it is. God Bless you all and God Bless America. Thanks!
-- NC1 Scott A. McIntosh, USNR-TAR

Thank you for the kind words. In the umpiring profession, we often say that an umpire has done his job well when no one knows he's there.

Hi, name is Geoff Arnold and I am 14 years old and someday hoping to umpire in the Major Leagues. My question is what do you tell a coach if he gets mad and jumpy about a call you made against his team how do you handle the situation?
-- Geoff Arnold

Geoff, best of luck with your umpiring. One thing which is important for umpires to remember is not to tolerate abuse. If a player, coach, or manager is questioning you in a reasonable fashion, you should listen to him and attempt to answer the question. However, if that person's demeanor becomes abusive -- or if profanity or personal comments are directed towards you -- you must put a stop to it.

What is the approximate salary range for umpires from bottom up through the Majors?
-- John Baldridge

Professional umpires currently begin their Minor League career at $1,800 per month. At the Major League level, salaries range from approximately $84,000 to $300,000 per year.