Advanced Signs for the Players and Fans

Called Strike

First point at the batter with the hand closest to the batter, then signal the strike with your right. It is good practice to verbalize something like "He went - strike."


The "Check-Swing" or Appealed Strike

The plate umpire does not have to be asked for help, he can simply request it himself. Experienced catchers will immediately ask you to get help from the base umpire after a check swing which you called a ball. In professional baseball the catcher and the manager can request the appeal on the swing.

Check with your league to see where the request can come from. In some leagues the request to appeal can come from anywhere on the field. A request should never be refused. The argument on the refusal will take longer then the appeal.

Step away from the plate, optionally removing your mask. With your left arm gesture clearly to the base umpire and ask "Did he swing?" or "Did he go?" If the answer is yes the base umpire signals - strike while saying "Yes, he went!" If the answer is no, a safe sign with "No, he did not go!"

The plate umpire will now announce the results by giving the count. "Then that's a strike, the count is ..." or if denied, "The count is ...."

The Foul Tip

A two part signal, extend you left arm up, in front of your body, palm down, to at least shoulder level. Brush the fingers of the right hand over the back of the left hand two or three times. The signal is completed by signaling the strike with the right hand. Because the ball is alive and runners can advance never say "Foul Tip." Announcing "foul" anything could stop the action.


Infield Fly Called

All umpires point into the air with their right hand. On some crews every umpire on the field echoes the infield fly call, on others only the gesture is echoed. This should be dealt with in the pre-game conference. The plate umpire will usually announce the verbal portions of the signal, echoed by the other umpires.


Home Run or Ground Rule Double

First, the ball is dead. Make sure any unnecessary action is killed, particularly if the ball has rebounded back into the field. The signal for a home run is circling the right arm and index finger overhead. The ground rule double is awarded by signaling "two bases" with two fingers held up usually on the left hand.


Awarding Bases

Using the left hand point clearly at the runner and state "You, second base" or "You, third base", "You, score!" whatever the case may be. The runner is protected all the way to the base but not one inch beyond it. Always move the runner closest to home first.


That's a Balk!

Balks must be called with reference to the action. Remember, if the pitcher completes the delivery of the ball, or throws to a base, you are in a delayed balk situation. The sequence of arriving at that signal is: point at the pitcher, arm at shoulder height, and say "That's a balk"! Now if the pitcher hesitates in his delivery call "Time! That's a balk!" Award the bases "You, second base." etc. Pointing at the pitcher will allow sufficient time to determine a delayed balk call situation.


The Interference Call

An immediate decision is needed: "dead ball" or "delayed dead ball." Point at the offensive player and make the call "That's Interference" followed by your decision on whether or not the ball is dead, announced with a loud gestured "Time" or (...nothing...) meaning a delayed dead ball. If the ball remains alive avoid any signal that looks or sounds like "Time" until the appropriate moment. If the ball is dead call "Time" immediately and shut down any remaining play on the field.


The Obstruction Call

This call is like interference except the ball may remain alive. In all cases the call "That's Obstruction." is made while pointing at the defensive player making the obstruction. If a play is being made on the obstructed runner the ball is dead so immediately signal "Time." This is followed by an awarding of a base or bases either after play has stopped or even while play remains ongoing. Unless a play was being made on the obstructed runner the ball remains alive.

Any gesture which resembles "Time" being called can cause problems on a diamond. This is one reason why some umpiring organizations teach to initially extend the left hand horizontally with a clenched fist. The professional baseball umpires point at the fielder with one hand only.

Catch or No Catch

When signaled the "catch" resembles the "out" signal. No verbal indication needs to be given. The "no-catch" signal resembles the "safe" signal except the call of "No Catch" is clearly given. Sometimes it will be necessary to repeat this sign several times. An addition to the "No Catch" is the juggling routine which indicates the fielder did not have possession. Juggle when the fielder is on the base for the force out but not in full possession of the ball.

Some crews give the safe signal and then point to the ground several times saying "on the ground, on the ground" when the ball is dropped. The terms "Catch" and "No Catch" could be mixed up over the crowd noise.

The verbal call needs only to be given on a trouble ball, for example: a ball caught diving or below the fielder's knees. Routine flies can be signaled or not signaled depending on crew and local practice. If a ball is on the foul lines first signal whether the ball is fair or foul, then the catch or no-catch status if desired.