If you’re going to umpire, know the rules

This weekend the team I’m coaching with now played its first tournament. (We managed a third place finish, but that’s a story for another day.) The tournament was put on by a local umpiring association, and it was an ASA Northern Nationals qualifier. So you’d expect that we would be playing by ASA rules, and that the umpires would know them backward and forward. No such luck.

Twice today we were told by the umpire in the pre-game meeting that no courtesy runners were allowed for the pitcher and catcher now that we were in bracket play. (We’d had continuous batting in pool play, so the courtesy runner was the last batted out.) The first time, our head coach went back to the umpire after she talked to me and asked about it again. He insisted no courtesy runners were allowed, so we played without them. I didn’t get it since they said we were playing by ASA rules, but whatever.

In game two the umpire correctly allowed courtesy runners. They had to be a player not in the game.

Then in game three the Blue once again told both coaches no courtesy runners were allowed. The opposing team batted first and got a pitcher or catcher on base. The first base coach asked the third base coach about a courtesy, and the third base coach made some gestures indicating it was possibly a sore point with the umpire.

Well, I’d had enough. I left the dugout to find the umpire in charge (UIC). I found him, and asked if we are playing under ASA rules. The UIC said yes, so I asked why we weren’t allowed courtesy runners. He said we were, so I asked him to inform the umpire on our field about it. He did, and we got to use our courtesies going forward.

But what I want to know is how could not one but two umpires at a tournament run by umpires not know the rules? The second guy pretended that what we got to was what he meant, but it was obvious to our head coach that he didn’t. I think that’s shameful, especially on something so basic. The courtesy runner rule has been around for many years now so it should be known by all. Even if different associations use different rules they should know in ASA ball that you can run for the pitcher and catcher at any point.

I thought they did a good job on the other aspects of the game, but this was ridiculous. Thank goodness the UIC was willing to come over and make the correction, because it was around 90 degrees today.

Knowing the rules is a pretty basic requirement. Hopefully we won’t have to deal with THAT again.


About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on May 31, 2010, in Rules and Umpires. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Rick Cartwright

    i have run into these instances also. While most officals have been decent & solid, I have been in tournaments like the one you described where the basic rules have changed from crew to crew. I make it a point to review the rules book and actually read the tournament rules, and expect an umpire to do the same. They are the paid officials. No excuse for this in any qualifer tournament, especially if it is put on by umpires. Many times you may find a rookie working with a seasoned blue, but this training should be in “lower” level situations.


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