Signs for the Umpire Crew

The last thing a crew needs is a whole collection of "secret" or "private" signs. Keep any signs simple. Much beyond these few universal signs and the umpire's sign list is growing too long.


How many are out?

There are two signs for making this request: 1) a cutting motion made across the throat or 2) tapping the right pant leg with a closed right fist. Responses 1) The number of outs are relayed by hold the appropriate number of fingers, pointing down, pressed against the right leg or 2) touching the brim of the hat with the appropriate number of fingers (or a clenched fist if no one is out.) A plate umpire often signals the number of outs by touching the side of the mask with a closed fist (0 out), one finger (1 out) or two fingers (2 out) extended.


What's the count?

A quick tapping on the top of head or on the brim of the hat indicates confirmation of the count being requested. An alternative sign is placing the palms of both hands horizontally on the umpire's chest. Response is made by holding the number of balls in the left hand and the number of strikes in the right hand. These are held pressed against the shirt just above the belt. The responding umpire also calls the count aloud.


Possible Infield Fly Situation

Some crews signal each other by first relaying the number of outs from the brim of their hats then signaling the infield fly. Another infield fly signal is done simply with the thumb pointing and moving upwards. A standard signal is to tap your left shoulder with your right palm indicating that the infield fly could be called. What is important is that play does not resume until all umpires are aware of the pending situation.


Watch out for a time play wrote this note: "I just finished 5 weeks at the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring and they gave this time play instruction: Indicate to partner with right arm extended toward him with two finger indicating two outs and then a sharp point to the plate. This indicates that there is a possible time play and I am staying at home plate for a possible time play. This is echoed back by the other umpire.

Another sign flashed around many diamonds is a warning to be alert for a potential "two-out" time play situation. The plate umpire simply taps the back of his wrist where he would normally wear a watch.

I need help!

As soon as a manager leaves the dugout good umpires will move towards the umpire being addressed. If the discussion goes beyond a few pleasant words they will move in very close. If that umpire places two hand on his waist, particularly if he pumps them another umpire will step in between the umpire and manager. This request for intervention allows the umpire to immediately walk away from the area. As the intervening umpire there is only one objective, calmly say to the coach "OK coach, let's get back to playing baseball, the discussion is over, lets get back to the game." Under no circumstances will the intervening umpire discuss the play or become involved in any rules discussion.