Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Now a Word on the Umpire Indicator

Plate and Field
The primary function of the indicator is to record outs, balls, and strikes. A four wheel indicator can also record the inning. Many amateur umpires that are required to keep score in the field will use this fourth wheel to keep track of runs during the half inning.

Whether on the plate or in the field, avoid looking down at your indicator. Keep your eyes on the ball and avoid missing a pick-off or quick-pitch. Practice with your indicator until you can glance at it and be able to reset it by feel. If you need to look at it while the ball is live, don't look down at it, hold it up at eye level and glance at it while you're still watching the field.

The indicator is always placed in the left hand. This is mainly because your out and strike call is made with the right hand.

Plate umpires are responsible for the count - not the field umpire! I like to keep my indicator in my ball bag. It slips easily into the bag and I can keep my hands loose. This helps avoid injury from foul balls and avoids cramping. Everyone is different, but early on I noticed my hands would cramp after hours on the field holding an indicator. The umpire should know the count without relying exclusively on his indicator. Remember, it is a tool, not a crutch!

At many levels the home and visitor is decided by a coin flip - often at home plate by the umpire. At these times never, ever flip your indicator. If you don't have a coin, there are several ways to select a home team. With young kids you can keep it fun with rock-paper-scissors. Otherwise roll your indicator to an odd or even number, show the number to one captain as another guesses. Of course, the best way to resolve the matter is to keep a coin in your bag.

Many veteran umpires distain the use of an indicator in the field. I recommend that you keep an indicator in the field to assist your plate umpire. Keep your indicator in your pocket. After the second pitch take it out and record the count. Then record the count until it is full and then put it back in your pocket.

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