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A Look at Your Uniform

From bow ties and suit jackets, to powder blue button-up shirts, to the various color pullover shirts that are so popular with umpires today, the umpire uniform has changed dramatically. However, there are a few constants that have been around for a long time, and we should all know about them.

  • First: “No one pays any attention to the umpires.” Don’t kid yourself….people are watching you from the second you get out of your car and put on that umpire shirt. If you look the part, it can go a long way toward helping you to have a pleasant ball game. It’s nice to walk on the field and hear some of the players saying, “Oh wow! We have a REAL umpire tonight!” Understand though, most of them are seeing your uniform, not you personally.

    Make sure you and your partner look alike with the same color shirt, undershirt and hat.

  • Note: If you are a new umpire, welcome. Don’t think it’s necessary to run out and buy a bunch of clothes and equipment right away. You can add all this stuff as you go along. Most leagues will buy you a hat, tee shirt and an indicator.

  • Hat: Whether it’s a small-billed beanie, a 4 stitch combo or a 6 to 8 stitch base hat,

    There are a few important points about the hat….
    • 1. We must wear one.
    • 2. It must be kept clean. An old, dirty, ratty hat is NOT the sign of an old, experienced umpire. It’s the sign of a sloppy one. If you only own one hat, clean it! A small brush and detergent in the sink does a great job.
    • 3. Wear it with the bill pointing FORWARD. Learn to take off your mask without the hat coming off. Practice! It can be done. Make sure your mask straps are loose enough that when you put your mask on and lean over, your mask will fall away from your chin.
  • Shirt: Like the hats, shirts come in lots of different styles from tee shirts to the polyester pullovers in lots of colors. Just make sure it’s clean and unwrinkled. Don’t pull it out of your trunk in a wad and shake it out. Make sure it’s big enough to wear your chest protector under it.

  • Pants: Most leagues wear gray trousers, but there are lots of shades of gray. The umpire mail order companies sell pretty much the same shade, but they can be pricey. Find out what your leagues’ umpires are using. Don’t spend much money until you’re ready. New umpires in my league wear jeans when they start. No shorts on Little League umpires, please! Find some pants that will allow you to wear the shin guards under them, not on top.

  • Shoes: Another area where there are a million styles. Generally, if they can be cleaned and shined and have some molded cleats on the bottom, they will work. Suggestions: Wear black shoes. All black is best, but if you have some old plastic molded cleats with a white swoosh or whatever use them. Just keep them shined. They are better than wearing white sneakers! For the plate, plate shoes with steel toe, etc are much safer but again, pricey. Do what you can afford.

Looking the part can really help you get through some situations on the field, even if you don’t feel all that confident. Looking the part can also help you to gain some of that confidence and make you a better umpire. A sloppy looking umpire does not instill confidence in players, coaches or fans. The umpire who shows up to the game in a Hawaiian shirt and shorts has hurt himself before he ever makes his first call. Become “concerned” about your appearance. We have a saying in umpire circles; “Looking like an umpire will get you 2 or 3 innings of trouble-free game. The rest of the game you are on your own.” Have fun and keep smiling.