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Old Mon Apr 23, 2012, 02:23pm
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Getting beat up all game - Catcher can't catch pitched balls

Hey guys,

I'm new to this forum, as well as being new to the world of umpiring. I umpire girls fast pitch softball, and have a question for you veterans out there about a game I did this weekend.

I did a 12U girls fast pitch game, and got beat up all game long. The major problem was that the catchers at this level can't catch all of the pitched balls. The pitchers were throwing at a decent speed for 12 years old, but regardless, when a ball hits you off the hand, or the wrist, or forearm... it hurts!

Is there anything that I can do to protect myself better? I started the game working the slot as always, but that left my wide open to be hit by pitches (sometimes they were strikes that came right through the zone and hit me right in the arm). I tried crouching down more to try to hide behind the catcher, but they are so small at this age, I'd almost be lying down on the ground.

Any help would be appreciated! I can't afford to spend all of my pay on ice and Advil to deal with the bumps and bruises!

Thanks,
Steve
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Old Mon Apr 23, 2012, 04:49pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goalpost10 View Post
Hey guys,

I'm new to this forum, as well as being new to the world of umpiring. I umpire girls fast pitch softball, and have a question for you veterans out there about a game I did this weekend.

I did a 12U girls fast pitch game, and got beat up all game long. The major problem was that the catchers at this level can't catch all of the pitched balls. The pitchers were throwing at a decent speed for 12 years old, but regardless, when a ball hits you off the hand, or the wrist, or forearm... it hurts!

Is there anything that I can do to protect myself better? I started the game working the slot as always, but that left my wide open to be hit by pitches (sometimes they were strikes that came right through the zone and hit me right in the arm). I tried crouching down more to try to hide behind the catcher, but they are so small at this age, I'd almost be lying down on the ground.

Any help would be appreciated! I can't afford to spend all of my pay on ice and Advil to deal with the bumps and bruises!

Thanks,
Steve
Hiding behind the catcher is generally anathema, particularly because it blocks your view of the strike zone.
I find that the higher you hold your hands the fewer hits, IOW, in front of your stomach/lower ribs. Some umps put there hands behind them, but for me that throws my balance off and makes my signals awkward.
Yes, there are punishing games but the pain usualy goes away soon and seldom leaves a bruise or cut. That said, my two worst "hurts" were a broken bone in my hand (10&U) and a severely bruised elbow (14&U). But both cleared up in a day or so.
You will find with more experience that it hurts less.

Sorry you had such a beating early in your career.
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Old Mon Apr 23, 2012, 06:51pm
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Other than using a balloon style chest protector like a shield, there really isn't all that much you can do.

And personally, I don't agree with Cecil. I think it still hurts as much now as it did two decades ago!
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Old Mon Apr 23, 2012, 07:20pm
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...a broken bone in my hand ...cleared up in a day or so....
Fast healer!
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Old Tue Apr 24, 2012, 08:36am
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A friend of mine, Phil De La Rosa, shared a version this story one year after the end of the Fireworks Tournament:

I was working a 12U game and the catcher couldn't catch a cold. I was being used as more of a backstop than an umpire. After what seemed like the hundreth time I had been hit with a pitched ball, I took my mask off and said to her coach, "If your catcher isn't going to catch, you need to put someone in who will." The little 12U catcher turns around and says to me, "Sir, you chose this profession. Now get back there and take it like a man."

Phil told us he was laughing so hard it didn't hurt any more.

May have been the tequila. I don't know.

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Last edited by MNBlue; Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 02:18pm.
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Old Tue Apr 24, 2012, 02:06pm
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I have only heard Phil tell this story 20 times and I will probably hear him tell it again another 20.
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Old Tue Apr 24, 2012, 11:36pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MNBlue View Post
A friend of mine, Phil De La Rosa, shared a version this story one year after the end of the Fireworks Tournament:

I was working a 12U game and the catcher couldn't catch a cold. I was being used as more of a backstop than an umpire. After what seemed like the hundreth time I had been hit with a pitched ball, I took my mask off and said to her coach, "If your catcher isn't going to catch, you need to put someone in who will." The little 12U catcher turns around and says to me, "Sir, you chose this profession. Now get back there and take it like a man."

Phil told us he was laughing so hard it didn't hurt any more.

May have been the tequila. I don't know.

Phil drink tequila?? Phil tell stories after drinking tequila??

Say it isn't so??
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Old Wed Apr 25, 2012, 07:35am
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Mark, Jr.'s initiation to girls' fastpitch softball.

2012 isMTD, Jr.'s fifth year umpiring. When he started in 2008 he only wanted to umpire baseball and he took the OhioHSAA baseball umpiring class and passed with a near perfect score (insert proud papa here, ), but he wanted no part of umpiring fastpitch softball. I told him that even if he didn't umpire H.S. FP he should at least get ASA and USSSA registered for summer ball because on nights when there are not baseball games he can umpire FP games. He still insisted that he did not want to umpire FP and his mother, my wonderful better half backed him up; I registered him in ASA and USSSA anyway, .

His first game was with me: a girls' USSSA summer league game; I stuck him behind the plate. The pitchers couldn't hit the strike zone and the catcher's couldn't catch either. He was not a happy camper, . BUT, a few weeks later we umpired a USSSA girls' FP tournament where we umpired 12 games (12U and 14U age group games) together over two days where we made $32/game (cash) and he suddenly discovered he enjoyed umpiring girls' FP softball tournaments, .

To make a short story long, he still doesn't umpireH.S. FP but he may next year, but last summer he was chosen as the PU in the Ohio ASA Girls' FP State Tournament for the 10U Championship game (insert proud papa here, ). AND for our first H.S. games for the season this year I was umpiring a girls' varsity FP game while he was umpiring a boy's baseball game at the same school, and while we were driving to the game he gave me the refresher course on the DP/Flex rule, .

MTD, Sr.
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Old Wed Apr 25, 2012, 08:13am
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Working the "slot" is great but not as great as self preservation.

If you want to remain in the slot and not get your hands beaten up, try this (imagine a right handed batter). Your left leg should be at least as wide from the plate as the batters. Drop to your normal position, but move your left hand just behind your left knee. Your right leg should be behind the catcher's back. Place your right hand on top of your thigh just above your knee. Your thumb will be inside your thigh and the rest of your fingers will wrap around to the outside of your thigh. Depending on your preference, you can lock your right arm in this position.



Doing this helps umpires maintain their balance, without that awkward feeling of having both arms behind the body, which leads to all sorts of bad mechanics for many umpires.


By tucking one hand away behind your knee and having the other blocked by the catcher's back (regardless of whether she can field a ball), you'll be in much better shape.
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