How To Get To Know Your Plate Umpire Very Quickly!
- Updated: June 5, 2013
If while pitching, you have the very good fortune to have a plate umpire who is calling strikes on pitches not in the strike zone, don’t feel any obligation whatsoever to throw strikes. If he is calling them high, why should you bring your pitches down? If he is calling them low, why should you bring your pitches up higher? The same holds true for inside and outside off the plate. Pay very close attention early in the baseball game to what an umpire is and is not calling strikes and pitch accordingly.
No matter what the rule book says for the strike zone at any level of play, no two umpires are going to call balls and strikes the same. Some have small strike zones and some have very large strike zones. Personally, I’m a certified high school umpire and I have a tendency to be a little generous to a pitcher when he’s low in the strike zone and with corners. I’m a little “stingy” upstairs. The point is that we umpires are all different. I have friends who are also high school umpires. They openly tell me that they have different strike zones for different levels of play. Their strike zones for modified, freshmen, junior varsity and varsity are different!
I can still remember an umpire I had in high school back in the year 1968. Boy, I’m old. I want to make a point here for your benefit and not mine. Do you want to talk about a pitcher friendly umpire? I noticed very, very early in the game that if a curve ball was within a foot of home plate, he would call it a strike. Also, if it didn’t bounce it in the dirt it was high enough for him to call it a strike. I was only 16 years old but I recognized in the first inning how this guy loved any curve ball he saw and was pretty much going to call it a strike if it was anywhere close to the plate. This is one of many baseball pitching tips that has nothing to do with the actual pitching mechanics and it merely requires doing a few very simple observations.
It was easy to have a very successful outing and you probably know what pitch made it a success. You guessed it. Curve balls that were six inches off the corner and just barely above being in the dirt. The umpire wasn’t intentionally trying to favor anyone or give anyone an unfair advantage. In fact, he was a very nice guy and an honorable man.
But always remember, all umpires have different strike zones no matter what the rule book says and you better “get to know your umpire very quickly.” One of the more important baseball pitching tips is that you should always remember that you don’t necessarily have to throw strikes to get baseball hitters out. Why on earth would you feel obligated to throw strikes if your plate umpire is a “pitcher’s umpire?” Making good use of this will work to your advantage big time. If you don’t get to know your umpire very quickly, you and I will no longer be on speaking terms!