If You Go Out, Stay Out

By Robert Hitchman

“If you go out, stay out!” If you’ve been umpiring any length of time, I’m sure you’ve heard this. But is it true? Is it something all umpires should adhere to? Well, in my humble opinion, no. It never made sense to me. And I’m not playing devil’s advocate here. I know I’m in the minority here. I’ll give you a few reasons why I’m against it but first, let me clarify the statement. Secondly, some background on why I believe it’s so readily accepted.

Nobody on base, you’re in the A position. Trouble ball to right where you think the right-fielder may have to dive or its close to the line. You head out there, the outfielder dives, the ball gets by him rolls to the wall. You say, “NO CATCH!” and then hang out. All while your middle-aged partner is circling the bases, trying to keep up with a 15 year-old. You see where I’m going with this?

In fairness, I get it. Unfortunately, far too many of us are overweight. So, when some of us get out there, that’s it. We’re done for that play. Others may have had knee replacement (as I have) or some other ailment which would make it very difficult to get back. Like I said, I get it, but let me share a different perspective.


When you go out and stay out, you leave your partner chasing the batter-runner. What if he tries for third, the ball gets away, and the runner tries to score. Your partner is going to beat a 15-year-old to the plate? Really?! Here’s how I play it when I do the bases. I go out for a trouble ball. The right-fielder dives for the ball and misses. Once I signal no catch, I have no more responsibilities out there. At this time, the batter-runner is just rounding first. Once I see the ball’s down, I start making a B-line for the plate. This way, if he tries to score, I’m right there. Also, if he tries to come home and gets caught in a rundown, I’m there to help my partner. I’m not a spectator in the outfield.

One other contingency you may have come up with. What if the runner gets caught in a rundown between second and third? Well, I’m keeping my situational awareness. As I’m running home, I’m keeping my eye over there and can adjust accordingly. To me it’s much better than taking half of the play off.


Earlier this year I went to a clinic in a neighboring state, and I brought this up. I was told “If you go out, stay out!” is a three-man mechanic, not a two-man. Recently I got some good advice by a senior ump in a local association. He said that while he understood my point, trouble balls happen so rare, this mechanic just evolved. And, he said, it’s not written in stone. It can be done my way. That’s exactly why you pre-game. So you and your partner can get on the same page. The important thing is that we’re in good position to get the call right.

Bob The Umpire

Robert (Bob) Hitchman has only been umpiring for about seven years in Rockland and Westchester counties, NY and Northern New Jersey, but has played high levels of baseball including college ball in California and pro ball in Mexico. He does primarily travel ball, adult leagues, HS and soon to be NCAA certified. He also does some freelance writing for Referee Magazine.