My philosophy on umpiring a baseball game has evolved over the years since 1984. The reasons my philosophy has changed is because of the tremendous learning curve involved in becoming a more mature umpire. I had an aptitude to umpire initially and had a pretty good baseball strike zone because of my experience playing, managing and coaching. I have said many times that of all the experiences in this game of baseball I have, umpiring has been the most challenging.
I believe in not interjecting myself into the game and to just let the baseball players play. I have tried to be better by learning how to see more plays as they happen and I have worked on getting better calling balks, interference obstruction, and awarding of bases. I have never sworn in a game and have tried to always be polite. I have found that the best umpires know the rules and are not afraid to call them when they see them and have the ability to explain what they have seen, not just saying it was judgment because the call involves rulings. The best amateur umpires call them and can explain (because they are rules) without hesitation or intimidation. In the early years I had a thin skin. I now have developed a thick skin and I ignore the crowd and much of the bench rhetoric, as long as it is not intimidating or personal. Early on I ejected many players, one day four (4) at one time. I have learned to be more longsuffering and, if it is done in the right way, allow coaches and player to talk about a call or a play. My reaction used to be ejection – I am the absolute – this is my game and I will control it! Now I am willing to listen as long as the tone is good and they do not get personal.
Years ago, because of my lack of experience, I was at times intimidated. Not anymore. I will allow a batter to complain about a call just a little if he persists or I respond he may be in trouble. I never allow a player to draw a line with the bat as to where he thought a ball was pitched. If he does, he is ejected. I also talk to catchers about framing a pitch (holding it too long) that I call as to show me up.
I have made it my code to know the rules and to administer them on the baseball field. However, I understand now that I and all umpires are human. We are not perfect but we strive to be. Regardless if I’m right or wrong on a call, I will never be intimidated. I will cut players and coaches some slack if I miss one. I will never change my call. Why? They will question you on every call and want you to change it. If you miss it, you miss it – you’re human! I try to abide by certain rules for ejecting players, etc. I will not tolerate fighting or pitchers throwing at batters. Throwing at hitters is dangerous. Fighting in an amateur baseball game is totally uncalled for. I take down numbers. I also will not complete a game where there is a bench clearing brawl. This a recreation and we need to keep the game as safe as possible. I will leave the baseball diamond. I will tell them we are here to play baseball, not fight. – Bill deMoss