Thursday, October 30, 2008

Recommended Gear for the Beginner to Intermediate Umpire

A "working" umpire lives out of his vehicle during the season. Consequently it is important to have the necessary tools and equipment in your vehicle so you can perform your job. Here is what I keep in my bag and in my vehicle:

1. Briefcase - I have an old hardshell briefcase that I keep in my vehicle that contains pens, paper, association cards, illegal bat lists, and RULE BOOKS.
2. Shirts and Pants - Instead of worrying about keeping up with uniform for the day, I keep all my (clean and laundered) shirts and pants hanging in my vehicle throughout the week. I use a suit bag to keep my clothing clean. While shirt colors differ with associations, I generally carry red, navy, light blue, and black. Some of my shirts have velcro patches to accomodate the different associations. My shirts and pants are Honig's. I have been very pleased with Honig's quality.
3. Hats - this is personal preference. I carry three navy hats: an eight stitch fitted Richardson cap for the field and I rotate two six stitch fitted Richardson caps for behind the plate. I keep my hats in hat caddies. I also have different association hats that I carry.
4. Equipment bag. I use an hockey bag. Its big and stores all of my gear. It also has two side compartments for shoes, etc.
5. Shoes - I carry New Balance 450 plate shoes. They are comfortable and light. I also wear black New Balance shoes in the field.
6. Socks - I use Thorlo's Plate Shoe Socks. They have extra padding and absorb sweat. I have never had an issue with my feet and swear by these socks.
7. Belt - I carry two black leather belts.
8. Ball bag - I wear one ball bag when I umpire, but I carry a spare with me. Each ball bag has a cheap 4 wheel indicator, plate brush, and lineup holder.
9. Shoe shine kit - Black shoe polish and a brush.
10. Small sewing kit - a couple bucks from Walmart for emergencies (they arise more often than you'd think!)
11. Lawn chair - most amateur fields do not have a room for umpires. A lawn chair and piece of carpet to stand on makes life much easier when you have to change from your vehicle.
12. Cooler - I like to stock a small cooler with ice, soda, and water.
13. Bat ring - for softball I like to have a bat ring available.
14. Leatherman tool - pliers, screwdriver, etc. for emergency repairs.
15. Sunglasses - go cheap!
16. Mask - I like the traditional mask. I use Diamond DFM-UMP. Although lately I have been considering a hockey style mask.
17. Chest protector - I use a Wilson West Vest Platinum.
18. Shin guards - I use Diamond shin guards, but I am convinced that I could strap just about any hard plastic to my legs and be ok.
19. Date book - to check availability. I pick up a lot of games at the ball field from other umpires, assigners, UICs, school administrators, coaches, etc.
20. Extra shoelaces.
21. Extra shin guard strap.
22. Timer - most youth games have a time limit. the bigger the display, the better. And make sure it has a clip to hang from the fence and an alarm loud enough to be heard from the plate.
23. First aid kit - a small first aid kit with pain reliever, bandages, etc.
24. Sun block
25. Bug spray
26. A comb and deoderant.
27. Undershirts - Under Armour makes fantastic undershirts (Heat Gear and Cold Gear). Spend the extra money and buy these shirts. A long sleeve Cold Gear shirt is good for under your jacket.
28. Change of underwear - trust me, change your underwear and feel refreshed.
29. Plate jacket - I like the tuck-in style.
30. Gloves - sometimes it gets cold.
31. Hood - sometimes it gets really cold. I have a black Under Armour hood.
32. Tape measure - coaches love to question distance.
33. Disposable camera.

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