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How dangerous is 14u baseball for umpires?

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  • How dangerous is 14u baseball for umpires?

    In all my years of watching youth baseball games, I've never seen a plate umpire hit by a baseball, and maybe just a couple times did a see a hard grounder ricochet off a field umpire's leg.

    Then last Saturday happened.

    Game 1, the field umpire got hit once with a grounder (minor) but the plate umpire got hit 3 times - once in the arm, once in the groin, and then lastly in the throat. By the end of the game, his uniform was very dirty from all the rolling around he did in the dirt, writhing in pain.

    Game 2, the umpires switched positions and the now different plate umpire got hit twice, though I don't think it was as bad as what the other guy experienced game 1.

    14u pitchers throw harder than the younger pitchers and sometimes the catchers aren't stopping things they should be able to stop.

    At the higher velocities (and when the catching isn't great), is umpiring seriously hazardous?

    Aside: On one of those pitches, the catcher should have easily been able to catch the ball but was inattentive or something. So the head coach removed him for the rest of the game from playing at all, as he was concerned about what the umpire might do if something similar came up again.

  • #2
    I've never seen an umpire get seriously hurt at any level, but I have seen a 14u catcher take a ball to the throat, and he was on his back for several minutes. He's OK, as far as I know.

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    • #3
      Think that was just a bad day. I would think the most dangerous situation to umpire is Rookie ball or Low A ball where one-tool pitching "prospects" with massive velo and no control just wing it.

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      • #4
        I was talking with a parent whose son played on a 12u travel team this past summer. He said that there were games the umpires would tell coaches to switch catchers because they were being hit too often.

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        • #5
          2-4-2011_091a.jpg

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          • #6
            I took a foul tip off my chest/pec while catching with only a catcher's mask for an 11u practice. After my normal vision returned, I put on the gear...I doubt I will forget that level of stupidity on my part. That pic made me shudder

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            • #7
              We see foul tips hit umpires quite regularly at the 12U level. We have taught our catchers to walk the ball out to the pitcher, have a short conference, etc. while the umpire shakes off the impact. It can be dangerous but most in our area wear a pretty high level of padding except on the arms. There are certainly bruises but I am not sure how many serious injuries would occur.

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              • #8
                I umpire 8U to Highschool and it can be dangerous behind the plate. The worst level is probably 8U-10U since a lot of the catchers can't catch the ball half the time and they are so small. You get hit a lot behind the plate at that level, even if the ball isn't coming in all that fast. I tend to abandon the slot and go old school right behind the catcher in those cases. In upper level games with older kids the catchers catch most everything, including foul tips, so you don't get hit as much. But the ball is coming in much faster, so when you do get hit, it can do damage. I was behind the plate for a 16U tournament this summer and the pitcher was sitting in the low 80's. The batter fouled a FB straight back into my bicep. The feeling in my arm wasn't right for 2 weeks. The bruise lasted a month. I also took a foul ball off the turf into my protective cup that tournament. But have gone many games in a row without getting touched. It really just comes down to luck. One tournament I was on the bases and was with the plate ump suiting up prior to the game. He had a very old school, thin chest protector. I said I wouldn't call a game with that on and he laughed. He took a pitch directly into his chest midway into the game and it knocked the wind right out of him. I wasn't sure if he'd be able to continue for a bit. Always wear quality protective equipment.
                Last edited by Hammer823; 10-11-2018, 01:38 PM.

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                • #9
                  In LL all stars an umpire told my son (then a catcher) he had his life in his hands. He forgot his cup. Almost nothing got by my son. He was a shortstop in waiting with instruction by a MLB catcher.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JettSixty View Post
                    In LL all stars an umpire told my son (then a catcher) he had his life in his hands. He forgot his cup. Almost nothing got by my son. He was a shortstop in waiting with instruction by a MLB catcher.
                    Just curious if blue made terrible calls behind the dish, would the integrity of the barrier your kid provided be in peril?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sparkny2 View Post

                      Just curious if blue made terrible calls behind the dish, would the integrity of the barrier your kid provided be in peril?
                      After a horrible call (not knowing the rules) against my son trying to score my son asked, “Is this where a bush league catcher calls for a high fastball and sets up for a pitch in the dirt?” Then he laughed and told me he wouldn’t do it. He said the umpire sucks. But he’s a good guy.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JettSixty View Post

                        After a horrible call (not knowing the rules) against my son trying to score my son asked, “Is this where a bush league catcher calls for a high fastball and sets up for a pitch in the dirt?” Then he laughed and told me he wouldn’t do it. He said the umpire sucks. But he’s a good guy.
                        A few times in basketball, after a bad call by the ref, I would make a "bad pass" and "mistakingly" hit the ref with it..I had some issues =) If I remember
                        correctly the ref only caught on once and I took the long walk back to the locker room..

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                        • #13
                          IMO, HSV games are the riskiest level to umpire.
                          Pitchers are throwing fast enough (80-ish) to cause injury, combined with catchers who sometimes whiff on fastballs.
                          One of the best local umpires suffered a severely broken forearm last spring when a catcher whiffed on an inside fastball.

                          Comparing 14u pitch 70mph pitches to HSV 80mph pitches, the 80mph pitch has 30% more energy at impact (according to my dim memory of physics....KE = 1/2mv-squared)
                          Skip

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                          • #14
                            Having started in LL at 15 and having worked every level up to professional, I have a few observations:

                            1. The skill of the catcher is more important than the control and/or velocity of the pitcher.
                            2. Generally, the probability of injury is inversely proportional to the probability of getting hit.
                            3. The exceptions to observation #2 are the dangerous games.

                            I've never missed a pitch, let alone part of a game or games, due to an injury on the dish. The worst that I have gotten would either be the toe injury from a nasty four-seam I got a little over two years ago that still hasn't fully healed (but is no longer painful,) or the finger that got hit by a foul ball that damaged the knuckle and wouldn't bend fully for 18 months. Investing in equipment is key--I have never used cheap protective gear--as well as good fundamental mechanics that allow equipment to protect the body. At the college level (where most of my games are now,) I would say I average getting hit somewhere around 2-3 times a game, but often those are glancing blows between the legs or off the outside arm that aren't noticeable unless someone is close enough to hear them. When I do get hit, there's usually a pretty nasty bruise that'll last a couple of weeks.

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                            • #15
                              I believe the higher the level of ball the nastier the hits are the umpires take. It’s not about the ability of the catcher. It’s about the velocity of premier pitchers and bad hops pitches in the dirt might take. An 80+ off speed pitch in the dirt can take a hop even a quality catcher won’t always stop. Then there’s the foul tips off 90+ fastballs.

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