GOING FOR HELP

I am sure each of us has had one or more situations when we hear shouts from the stands or
comments from the bench centered around a “get some help” suggestion from a coach after a
call has been made. Umpires should never react to such requests from the stands but there are
times when a coach has a concern and it may be appropriate for the calling umpire to seek
assistance from other umpires working the game. Yet, there are times when seeking help is not
the proper course of action.
To make the majority of calls that occur during a game, an umpire needs four pieces of
information: 1) ball; 2) base; 3) offensive player; 4) defensive player. Lacking information about
one or more of the above may lead to a situation when the calling umpire may choose to get
help
from other members of the umpire crew in order to fully understand what has just
occurred.
What happens next depends upon what the umpire has seen and whether the umpire’s call is
based on his/her judgement alone or whether the call is based on a combination of judgement
and application of the appropriate rule or effect of that rule.
If the umpire can see each of the four items listed above and can make a call based on his/her
judgement alone, he or she should not seek the assistance of other members of the crew. The
umpire should make his/her call. That ruling is final. It is not subject to protest or question. If a
coach delays the game to question a call based on umpire judgement alone, the coach may ask a
question about the call but once the calling umpire explains his/her call, the coach should be
told that judgement calls are final. The calling umpire should then issue a warning to the coach
and have that warning recorded by the home plate umpire. If the same coach questions a
judgement call again, he/she should be ejected.
If the calling umpire is missing a piece of information about one or more of the four items
above, it is appropriate to seek help from other members of the umpire crew. The crew should
be brought together and meet privately. The calling umpire should seek any information he/she
needs. Then, the calling umpire should announce his/her ruling and explain his/her call to the
coaches should either coach ask.
If the calling umpire’s call is challenged because a coach believes that either the wrong rule has
been applied or the wrong effect has been used to support the umpire’s decision that call is
subject to protest by the affected coach. The NCAA has developed a specific procedure for
settling protests. See the steps in the NCAA PROTEST PROCEDURE outlined here.