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How To Become a Baseball Umpire

America’s pastime has a long and storied history and every part of that history includes the umpires that make the games possible.

Things To Consider

Physical Demands

The biggest thing you must be physically prepared for is having to stand several hours on end, occasionally in high heat. If you’re working the plate, bending your knees and holding position during every pitch is required. You will be required to jog periodically to properly position yourself and occasional sprinting might be needed.  As the baseball players’ ages increase and the competitive levels increase, the physical demands will rise.

Mental Demands

Fast judgment is a hallmark of baseball umpires. You’ll be required to see action happen, analyze it and judge it with little hesitation. When you call a strike or a ball, or call a runner out or safe, you must do so confidently and with authority. With practice, many of these judgment calls will become second nature to you and your brain will tell you what you saw without having to think about it. Focus is crucial for baseball umpires as well. You must be able to keep yourself in the game mentally because intense action can break out at any second, even if the play has been routine for several innings in a row.

Training

Baseball has many situations that happen rarely but that you’ll need to master to be prepared for every situation. You can train yourself with rule books and manuals from the  Referee Training Center, but you should also join a local officials association, such as RAOA, where you can expect real game education, demonstrations and exercises that will prepare you for what you’ll face.

Gear

  • Polished, black athletic shoes. Either turf shoe or flat—bottom.

  • Black socks.

  • Gray slacks usually but check with a local association for what is appropriate in your area.

  • A pullover shirt, usually dark blue or black. Check what 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).

  • Shinguards.

  • Plate brush.

  • Ballbag

  • Protective plate shoes

Estimated cost: $350. Once you join local officiating association, such as RAOA, there may be veteran officials who are willing to give or sell you “hand–me–downs” to help you get geared up at a reduced cost.

Here is a link for to a few online retailers.  Please note, RAOA is not affiliated with any of the them, they are simply suggestions for gear and clothing

Game Fees

Game fees vary widely based on the players’ age group, and competitive level The fees range from $50-$70 for youth games and $80 for competitive high school games.  A baseball official working youth, and high school games, with a full schedule, can make several hundred dollars per week outside their normal jobs. College officials make more and game fees increase with the level of competition. 

Moving up to work college games comes with a dramatic increase in pay but will require more training, study and travel. Professional umpires can make more than $100,000 per year.

When you're ready to become an official, head on over to RAOA application page and fill out the form.  You'll be glad you did!