Check-Swings

When check-swings occur, umpires must consider the following:

1.  Did the batter “break” his wrists, “roll” his wrists or swing through the ball?

2.  Did the batter bring the barrel of the bat over the plate or in front of his body?

If you, as an umpire, are convinced that the batter offered at the pitch, use the following mechanics:

    1.  If a right-handed hitter is at bat, point to the batter’s hips with your “left hand” followed by the strike signal with your right arm, verbalizing “yes you went!”

    2.  For a left-handed hitter, point to the batter’s hips with your “right hand” then follow with a strong right-handed strike. Add to your call “yes you did” to sell your call. Once you have called a strike, it’s a strike forever. Case closed.

Going for Help

If you call the pitch a ball and the catcher or manager asks you to get help on the swing, honor the request because MLB rule does mandate that an umpire has to.

Unless a team makes a “travesty” of the situation, then ask as a plate umpire because You need help! Not because the coach asked you to ask!

When going for help the following tips are suggested. The plate umpire should: (1) remove the mask, (2) step directly toward the base umpire and point at base umpire (left arm), (3) make a strong verbal request “did he go!”

Your partner (base umpire) should answer honestly with “yes, he went!” while giving a strike signal or, “no, he didn’t go!” with a “safe” signal.

If your base umpire calls a strike, the plate umpire should follow up with a strong arm signal for the benefit of the scorekeeper and scoreboard operator and then give the proper count both verbally and visually.

When the call is strike three, the base umpire must be emphatic with his verbal call and signal.  SELL THE CALL!

Remember, in a three or four umpire system, go to the third base umpire for help when a left-handed batter is at bat. For a right-handed batter, get assistance from the first base umpire with check-swings. 

Check-Swing Passed Ball Situation

In a situation as plate umpire, if you have any doubt about the swing on plays in which there is a passed ball, wild pitch or a ball not caught by the catcher, get help even as the catcher is recovering the ball.

Umpires have an obligation to provide the final decision on a pitch as soon as possible so that neither team is placed at a disadvantage. In this situation there is not enough time to follow check-swing procedures as outlined in manuals.

For quick coverage, simply point to your partner with your left arm and immediately ask for help.

Remember, unless you are positive the pitch is a strike, get help pronto from your partner without waiting for an official request or the batter-runner is standing on first base.

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