Umpires

JOHN Medrzycki

Umpire-in-Chief

Phone: 604-616-1658

MISSION STATEMENT

At Vancouver Community Baseball (VCB), the overall philosophy is to build a program that will instill passion for umpiring.  This philosophy allows us to attract the best and the brightest.  We look upon this as a 3-pronged approach:

  • Starting with our core group of seasoned adult umpires, we provide an environment whereby they can work with other senior umpires to advance their skill levels; at the same time, be challenged in mentoring our intermediate group.
  • That intermediate group, in turn, has the opportunity to either work with their peer group and/or help to develop our up-and-coming umpires.
  • Finally, our young umpires are immersed in situations where they can enjoy themselves, learn the intricacies of umpiring at their speed, all in a safe environment.

Upcoming VCB umpire clinics

  • Feb 25, 2024 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM: VCB Mechanics clinic
  • Feb 25, 2024 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM: VCB Headscratchers clinic
  • Mar 03, 2024 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM: BCBUA Level 2 clinic

Please arrive 10 minutes early so we can take attendance and begin the clinic on time.

All clinics will take place at St. John's School

2215 West 10th Ave. Vancouver.

TRAINING

This, of course, requires rigorous formal training.  At VCB, all our umpires must be registered with the British Columbia Baseball Umpires Association (BCBUA), and are required to partake in the clinics that are offered through the BCBUA (link below).  The $65 registration fee is reimbursed by VCB, once you have worked minimum 5 games for us.  Once a member, most of the clinics are free of charge.  These include:

  • Level 1.  For the absolute beginner.  If you have never umpired at Little League, and/or have not participated in the advanced District clinic, then you must start with Level 1.
  • Level 2.  This is normally the starting point for our new umpires.  If you have minimum 3 years experience at the LL level, and have attended the District clinic, then chances are we'll allow you to waive Level 1 and move straight to Level 2.  Because of the sheer volume of material covered, this level is divided into 2 sections – Offense and Defense – and takes 2 years to complete.  These are day long clinics, with online exams to complete.
  • Level 3.  There is an additional charge for this clinic ($125 as of 2017).  Normally, it is a 2-day affair.  There is also an online exam, and a participant must be field evaluated.
  • Level 4, Level 5.  We’ll talk about that when the time comes!

Furthermore, every year we hold internal clinics, dealing with subjects such as mechanics, signalling, rule interpretations, etc.  These are mandatory for all our umpires.  Finally, we strongly encourage all our umpires to “give back”; ie, volunteer to help train very young umpires within the Little Leagues in District 1.  Those 11-year-olds today will become our veterans in 10 years time.

UMPIRE ALLOWANCES

Division Plate Base
13U A $45 $35
13U AA $55 $45
13U AAA $65 $55
15U A $55 $45
15U AA $65 $55
15U AAA $75 $65
18U AA $70 $60
18U AAA $80 $70
26U (9 innings) $95 $85

 

As mentioned above, if you work at least 5 games for VCB, we will also reimburse your annual BCBUA fee.

Umpires are paid by e-transfer at the end of April, May, June, and July.  VCB does not issue T4's or withhold taxes for its officials; it is your responsibility to self-report any earnings when you file your annual tax return.

DRESS CODE

We adhere to a strict dress code for VCB umpires:

When working as a base umpire, you must have:

  • A black shirt and a blue shirt (either with the BCBUA logo or no logo)
  • Gray pants
  • Black (or dark navy) cap with the BCBUA logo, or no logo
  • Black shoes (either umpire shoes or some type of black athletic shoes)
  • Black belt
  • Black socks (calf length)

When working as a plate umpire, you must also have the following equipment:

  • Mask
  • Chest protector
  • Leg guards
  • Plate shoes (highly recommended)
  • Protective cup
  • Ball bag (at least one)
  • Indicator and brush
  • Lineup holder and pen/pencil
  • Notebook

It is important to point out that all the above is the responsibility of the individual umpire.  VCB does not provide equipment or clothing.

Lots of stuff?  Yes.  Lots of money?  No, it doesn’t have to be.  Start with what you need, and add as the season progresses, and as the years go by.  Plus, all our suppliers (see below) have package deals, drastically reducing costs.  And, they normally provide an additional discount for new VCB umpires.  Finally, please see the section below on our equipment purchase reimbursement policy, which is the best there is around the Metro Vancouver region.

OK, so what should you get, and where should you get it?

Umpires are free to purchase their gear anywhere, but the first place we recommend is Pro Image (www.pro-image.ca).  Pro Image has everything you need, and is local.

Here's a handy-dandy shopping list of each item you'll need.  We'll start at the top, and work our way down.

Cap - as mentioned, black or navy blue with the BCBUA logo (preferable) or no logo.  For Base, a regular brim (6 or 8 stitch) that fits comfortably.  For Plate, 4 or 6 stitch that's a bit snug on your head.  Never - never! - wear your cap backwards when working Plate.

Shirt - with the BCBUA logo (preferable) or no logo.  If you are only getting one, get the black.  Preferably, get 2 - the 2nd being blue.  Size - unless you're really small, I'd go with Medium for both Base & Plate.  Might be a trifle big for Base, but that's OK.  I wear Medium.

Undershirts -Dry-fit.  Black is your best bet (used with powder blue shirts).  Red is preferable with black shirts - but no one is going to get their knickers in a knot if you wear black.

Pants - First of all, don't go with the combos.  They don't work.  You need Base and Plate.  Go with the Smitty PolySpandex (4-way) - charcoal grey, not heather.  Wonderful pants.  Finally, umpire pants that are athletic.  Word of warning - when you are having your pants hemmed, wear your shoes (which we'll talk about below) and your plate gear (for the plate pants).  Then, get into your set position, and have the pants hemmed so that everything is more or less covered.  They're too short if they're riding up your leg in this position.  When you're standing normally, you want a break in the front - but not dragging on the ground in the back.  A word about combos - personally, I've never worn them - only because I've seen them on other people.  While they're wide enough for your leg guards, they can be a bit snug.  When you're behind the Plate, the last thing you need is any restriction.  As well, after crouching, they tend to stay up, and you'll find that you're always tugging down on them.  Then, as Base pants, as you can imagine, they're a bit...big!  You won't have a problem running around in them - but, they do tend to billow and flap around.  In other words, I find they look sloppy.

So, when I say they don't work, I'm referring more so to the look, the aesthetics.  They'll do the job - but you won't be stylin' out there!  But, certainly from a cost point of view, they are more efficient.

Belt - minimum 1.5" wide.  Black.

Socks - Black.  Calf length.  Go to the Bay, buy a 3-pack.  $20.  Under no circumstances does an umpire wear white socks, or ankle length socks.

Shoes - Black athletic shoes will do for Base.  However, for roughly the same money, you can pick up actual umpire shoes.  For Plate - believe me, you will want Plate shoes as soon as you can!

Gear - Pro Image has all types of protective equipment, depending upon your budget.  Eventually, you'll want to replace it all if you continue umpiring.  Force3 is my preference - mask, chest protector and leg guards are all Force3.  A bit more expensive - but the best there is, in my opinion.  When a ball is fouled directly back at you, you don't want to be wondering at that precise moment if the $50 you saved on the el-cheapo mask was worth it!

Miscellaneous - indicator, brush, line-up holder, small note pad (that fits in your breast pocket), minimum 1 ball bag (I use 2).  For the 1st month of the season, I always bring 2 rags to have the balls wiped down.  A good idea is to have a 4" paint scraper - when it's raining, all your brush does is smear the mud on the Plate.  And, of course, a pen/pencil.

REIMBURSEMENT FOR EQUIPMENT PURCHASE

The equipment reimbursement program has been substantially revised for the 2023 year.

To help with equipment costs, all umpires earn a $10 credit per game worked, up to a maximum of $300 (annually).

But, it gets even better as there is a 3-year carry forward provision.  What this means, is that when an expense is incurred, you will have a 3-year window (into future years) to be reimbursed for that expense.  This will provide the proper incentive to get the equipment you need without worrying about the expense incurred.  To give a concrete example, if you spent $900 on equipment in 2023, and worked 30 games in 2023, 2024 and 2025, VCB would fully refund that $900 over the 3 years.  The time frame for a year is August (previous year) to August (current year).

For 1st-year umpires, the minimum reimbursement amount is $150.

All equipment reimbursements require an electronic (or scanned) copy of the sales receipt sent to the UIC via email.  Any amount that you qualify for is paid at the end of July.

SOURCES OF INFORMATION

So, you had a tricky play last night, and you weren’t sure if you got the call right?  Well, you can look it up!  Here are a few sites that you can refer to.  And remember – do not be disappointed if you find out you got it wrong.  We all do at one time or another.  That’s how you learn, and improve.  And, when you get the same play again (and you will – either next game, next month or next year), you’ll now have that information lodged in your brain.  Check out these sources.  We’ll be adding to this list as time goes by.

UMPIRE MENTORSHIP

By far the best way for less-experienced umpires to learn is in a game setting, with feedback.  We will be putting together an Umpire Development Program for precisely this reason.  Expectations are that the mentor will be assigned a game to go to.  He must be there 15 minutes prior to the start and stay for minimum 1 hour.  He must let the umpires know who he is and why he's there.  In-game explanation (between innings) is encouraged.  Then, within 24 hours, a report is sent to the UIC.

Reports from the mentorship group will be one way we'll know whether an umpire is potentially ready to move up to higher levels of baseball.

VCB HOUSE LEAGUE RULES

The House League Rules documents for our 15U A and 18U AA leagues can be found on their respective pages on the website.  Umpires who work games at VCB should be familiar with these rules.  You can ask the coaches for clarification at the pre-game plate meeting if you have any questions about those rules.

INCIDENT REPORT

As the saying goes – you’re expected to be perfect on the very 1st play, and get better from that point on.  Unfortunately, life gets in the way.  And, occasionally all hell breaks loose, and ugliness rears its head.

If the incident resulted in an ejection (player, coach, fan, etc), then you must send us a detailed report, explaining exactly what happened, and why.  An email will suffice, but there is very specific information required.  Please refer to the document How to Write an Ejection Report which can be found just to the right of this paragraph.

Even if there was not an ejection, and something happened that did not sit right with you – let us know.  If this is a potential problem, and we can nip it early, we can save a lot of headaches later on for everyone involved.

BALKS

Is it possible to know everything about this subject?  Nope.  Is there anything that results in so much confusion and discussion in baseball?  Maybe, but I haven’t seen it.

So, start familiarizing yourself with the intricacies of balks.  Here’s a good starting video (ignoring the "fake to 3rd, throw to 1st portion - MLB changed that to a balk as of 2013):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYu6yoji9_U 

But don’t stop there.  Keep on going.  And, then watch Major League pitchers doing the dumbest things you can imagine on the mound.  So, if these guys (professionals earning millions) are capable of such acts, you gotta know that you’re gonna see it at VCB!  Don’t be afraid to call it.  That being said, be realistic.  Above all – be consistent.  If you call a balk on Team A’s pitcher in the 1st inning, and Team B’s pitcher does the exact same thing in the 7th inning – you better call it!