On the Field Professionalism
By Anthony Garcia
I received an email from my assignor and attached to it was an email from a coach. It began “Joanne, you often get emails from me complaining about the umpires at my games but this one is different.” The coach went on to compliment the umpires on the double header we had worked the previous day. Reflecting back on that day, over a year ago – what did my partner and I do differently to have a coach praise our work?
In essence, nothing. We followed the guidelines laid out in the Manual. We arrived one hour before game time and let the coaches know we were there. The start time was going to be delayed 15 minutes due to some last field maintenance and we stated that that was not a problem.
We then did a good pre-game, and asked each other what we were working on. Upon arrival to the field we inspected the bats and then proceeded to the plate to meet with the coaches. After the meeting we took our warm-up positions on the field and the game began.
Both games were close and so were a few plays. Between games we did a quick post-game and then began the second game. After the second game concluded we went back to our vehicles and dod a thorough post-game.
In each contest we worked on our game in specific areas and most importantly we maintained a professional and approachable appearance throughout the games. We were professional is all of our actions.
So what is this professionalism? To me it is more than a clean and pressed uniform and shined shoes; it is my attitude when I leave my residence and arrive at the game site knowing that I have a very important job to do.
As an official it is your knowledge of the rules and how you apply them during the contest. It is how you handle the tough situations when talking with coaches. Have you prepared yourself prior to the game before each and every pitch or play that may happen?
We talk about angles, distance, understanding of rules, correct positioning, proper mechanics, etc.; these are essential for our craft. Do you work on these during each and every game? We need to get the call right and if that means getting out the Rule Book, then do it. Remember we are the rules interpreter on the field.
The players on the field are playing the game to the best of their ability and giving maximum effort on the field and so should we. Every pitch and play is important to those players and it should be important to us.
We earn respect by players, coaches and peers by how we work the game. Be approachable and answer questions with appropriate reasonable answers. This allows you to diffuse possible volatile situations and be in control.
Don’t let the players, fans and coaching staff distract you from your duties on the field. Stay in control of the game and be objective.
Finally, once you have had your post-game, leave the game on the field. Take the knowledge gained from this game and apply it to your next contest. Be honest with yourself always and continue to work on your game. An umpire friend of mine once told me, “work each game like it was your last.” ( Joe Brinkman MLB umpire, retired.)