The Weather and The Umpire

By Ken Enderley

Weather plays an important role in the life of an umpire. It determines whether or not a game or games will be played. Postponed games wreak havoc on an umpire’s schedule, as well as the umpire assigners who schedule the games.

In the Northeast during the spring season, the weather varies on almost a daily basis. Your weather app gets its money’s worth for sure. Late March or early April, you can expect games to be played in 40+ degree weather with a wind chill factor that makes it seem like it’s in the 30s. Bleeping Cold!

It can be so cold that you cannot indicate a full count when your fingers are too stiff from the cold to show it. Yes, I know that we can wear gloves, which this author has worn when he does not forget to bring them. A valuable lesson learned.

There is an old saying in law enforcement, ‘A good cop is never cold, wet or hungry.’ Well, the never wet does not apply to umpires. Only if we deem the field is unplayable, we play on. The hungry part is easy — eat before your game, and bring a sandwich or snacks if you are scheduled for multiple games.

The cold aspect can be mitigated by dressing warm. Layer up! Long johns are great to wear for either the plate or base umpire. When the wind howls, and you are positioned behind the plate or in the ‘C’ position, you won’t feel it as much. I used to tell my kids, “You can always remove a layer if you get too hot, but you can’t add if you don’t have extra layers.” Never complain about the heat — cold weather is not fun to play or officiate baseball or softball.

There is another aspect that the cold weather has on an umpire’s game — calling balls and strikes. Yes, calling balls and strikes can be affected by the weather. This is usually intimated by the manager/coaches, not the umpire(s). The coaches may want you to ‘speed up the game’ by expanding your strike zone. DON’T DO THAT! Be consistent from start to finish. Do not let a manager/coach dictate how you call your game! Tell them, “Coach, my strike zone is consistent for both teams.”

Don’t be that umpire who was the main reason why I became an umpire. I was managing my son’s Fall Ball team on a very cold October night when the plate umpire approached our bench and stated, “My strike zone will be from the top of your ankles to your neck.” Mind you, these were 10- and 11-year-old kids he said this to. NO BUENO!

Ken Enderley began umpiring when he was thirteen years old. He’s been a volunteer LL umpire, since 2001, in Rockland County, NY and joined the Rockland ASA chapter in 2006. His continuing knowledge of baseball and softball rules as well as umpire mechanics has enabled him to teach both adult and youth umpires. Ken is currently Co-Director of the Lower Hudson Valley Umpire Association. You can follow them on Instagram at lhvua.