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Baseball: Umpire Signals

Sports >> Baseball >> Baseball Rules

In order to make the game of baseball as fair as possible, there are usually umpires on the field to call the rules. Sometimes the umpires are called "Blue" or "Ump" for short.

Depending on the league and level of play there may be between one and four umpires. Most games will have at least two umpires so one can be behind the plate and one in the field. In Major League Baseball there are four umpires.

Plate Umpire

The plate umpire, or umpire in chief, is located behind home plate is responsible for calling balls and strikes. This umpire also makes calls regarding the batter, fair and foul balls inside of third and first base, and plays around home plate.

Base Umpire

Base umpires are usually assigned to a base. In the major leagues there are three base umpires, one for each base. They make calls around the base they are responsible for. The first and third base umpires will also make the call regarding a batter's check swing to say whether the batter swung far enough to be called a strike.

In many youth leagues there is only one base umpire. This umpire will need to move about the field to try and make the call. If there is no base umpire, then the plate umpire will need to make the best call they can from their position at the time.

Umpire Signals

The umpires make signals so everyone knows what the call was. Sometimes these signals can be very dramatic and entertaining, especially when calling a close safe or out play.

Here are some of the common signals you will see umpires make:


Out or Strike Signal in baseball
Out or Strike

Time out or Foul Ball
Time Out or Foul Ball

Fair Ball
Fair Ball

Foul Tip
Foul Tip

Do not pitch
Do Not Pitch

Play Ball
Play Ball

*Source for graphics: NFHS

Respecting the Umpire

Umpires want to do the best job they can, but they will make mistakes. Players and parents needs to respect the umpires on all levels of play. Yelling at the umpire or loudly disputing calls never helps your cause and is not good sportsmanship.

More Baseball Links:

Baseball Rules
Baseball Field
Umpires and Signals
Fair and Foul Balls
Hitting and Pitching Rules
Making an Out
Strikes, Balls, and the Strike Zone
Substitution Rules
Player Positions
First Baseman
Second Baseman
Third Baseman
Baseball Strategy
Types of Pitches and Grips
Pitching Windup and Stretch
Running the Bases

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