Physical Demands of Baseball Umpiring
Expect normal physical demands. As the baseball players’ ages increase and the competitive levels increase, the physical demands will rise. You will be required to jog several times to properly position yourself. You will stand several hours on end, occasionally in high heat.
Expect lectures, demonstration and exercises on the basic rules at local association meetings.
- Polished, black athletic shoes. Either turf shoe or flat—bottom.
- Black socks.
- Gray slacks. Check with local association.
- A pullovershirt, usually dark blue or black. Check waht your association requires or permits.
- Black leather belt.
- A cap. Get a sized one rather than an adjustable.
- Officiating tools: pencil and indicator.
Equipment Needed for the Plate Umpire
- A mask with a throat protector.
- An inside chest protector.
- A cup (for men).
- Plate brush.
- Protective plate shoes.
Estimated cost: $350. Sometimes, veteran umpires have “hand–me–downs” that help new umpires get started.
Registration and Fees
Talk with umpires at a game, contact the athletic department of a local high school or contact your local recreation department. They will be able to give you the name of the state governing body for high school athletics. You will be expected to complete a registration form for affiliation with a national, statewide or local association. Often there will be a fee that must be paid with this registration which goes toward additional officiating training and insurance. Often, with your state association fee, you will be provided rulebooks and other materials. The fees range from $10-$50.
Game fees vary widely based on the players’ age group, competitive level and the state you umpire in. You can expect the range of $10 for youth games to $50 for competitive high school varsity games.
Ask a respected veteran umpire to be your mentor. That mentor will help answer your questions and provide crucial support. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about situations and rules. The more you talk about umpiring, the more you will learn about it.
Here’s the path for starting and continuing your umpiring career:
Youth Level Officiating
Many umpires start at the youth level. Contact your local recreation department leaders or the local Little League. Your local association should also help you make contacts to get games.
Here are the national offices for amateur youth leagues:
Little League Baseball, Inc.
PO Box 3485
Williamsport, PA 17701
Pony Baseball and Softball
PO Box 225
Washington, PA 15301
Babe Ruth League, Inc.
1770 Brunswick Pike
Trenton, NJ 08638
Upgrading to High School
After working some games, you may feel you have the skills and confidence to work higher level competition. Contact your state association for registration information.
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) is the nation’s governing body for high school athletics. Contact the NFHS for rulebooks, rule changes and information on your state association.
PO Box 690
Indianapolis, IN 46204
In most cases, state associations can put you in contact with a local umpires association. NASO has more than 4,000 local officials associations in our database. Local officials associations assign games, many times offer mentoring programs and assist in training.
High school athletic directors, association assigners and other umpires will help you get games. Attend local officiating camps and clinics. They are focused on helping umpires learn and improve.
Upgrading to College
College umpiring is a highly competitive level. Umpires with one year of youth league experience would most likely not be a candidate even though there isn’t a designated number of years of experience to reach the college ranks. Obtaining a conference schedule and advancement within a conference is based on the league or conference. When first trying to enter a particular college conference, talk with umpires who are currently in the conference. They can give you valuable information such as the conference commissioner and umpiring camps to attend. College athletic directors or sports information directors can also be helpful.
You may start your career in the NAIA, work an NCAA Division III conference, advance to a Division II schedule, then on to a smaller Division I conference and culminate with a major Division I schedule. Attending officiating camps is an important tool to improve your umpiring. Not only can you learn from experienced umpires, you can be seen by those who assign games at that particular level, most often conference commissioners or umpiring supervisors.
The collegiate national governing bodies:
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
PO Box 6222
Indianapolis, IN 46206-6222
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)
23500 W. 105th Street
PO Box 1325
Olathe, KS 66051-1325
National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA)
PO Box 7305
Colorado Springs, CO 80933- 7305
Other Amatuer Leagues
There are amateur leagues available to umpires. Usually those leagues aren’t affiliated with the NFHS, NCAA or professional leagues. Contact your recreation department or local association for umpiring information.
New minor league umpires begin at lower league levels (Class A). Umpires are evaluated and critiqued throughout their careers. Umpires either advance through the system to Double-A, then Triple-A, or are released. There are no set number of years for advancement to the next level, however it could take 8-12 years before reaching Triple-A.
Once in Triple-A, the Major Leagues may consider you a prospect for a Major League umpiring job. The best Triple-A umpires may have the opportunity to advance to the Major Leagues. There are very few openings annually at the Major League level. The Professional Baseball Umpire Corp. offers great information on professional and minor league umpiring.
To become a professional umpire, you must attend a professional umpire school. The schools are generally five weeks long. The top students are selected for an extra one-week evaluation program conducted by the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation. At the conclusion of that week, the elite students are hired and become minor league baseball umpires.
To begin the journey into professional umpiring, contact the following umpire schools:
The Umpire School
Vero Beach Sports Village
PO Box 2887
Vero Beach, FL 32961
Wendelstedt Umpire School
88 South St. Andrews Drive
Ormond Beach, Fl 32174
Academy of Professional Umpiring
200 South Wilcox St. #508
Castle Rock, CO 80104
(Note: The umpire schools also accept amateur umpires looking to improve their amateur careers.)
The different organizations have different requirements, but most require at least attendance at a meeting to go over any current rule changes. Additional requirements may be a written test with a minimum passing score, payment of fees for the upcoming season and association meeting attendance.
Still have questions? Contact us at HERE to receive additional information on becoming a baseball umpire.