Situation Positioning
60' Field

A Position

No Runners On Base

Ground Balls To The Infield


   With no runners on base, on a ground ball to the infield the base umpire will move from his/her position on the foul line and set up for the play at 1st base. He/she should generally move to a position approximately 10 to 12 feet from the base and such that he/she will be approximately at a right angle to the throw from the infielder. Umpires at all levels should strive to take as many of these plays as possible in fair territory.
   When the base umpire comes in to set up for the play at 1st base, he/she should come off the foul line while facing the batted ball. As the ball is about to reach the fielder, the umpire should square his/her body towards 1st base - with proper distance and angle to the base - while continuing to watch the ball by keeping his/her head turned towards the fielder. Then, as the fielder releases the ball (and the umpire sees that the throw is "true"), he/she will come to a set position (hands on knees as a basic fundamental). Turn his/her head towards the base, and focus on the bag, while he/she utilizes his/her peripheral vision watching the tag of the base by the runner and the ball hitting the glove. It is highly recommended that the base umpire have his/her hands on his/her knees for this type of play at 1st base.
   The base umpire should call the play at 1st base using a crisp, clear, visible and verbal mechanic. On a routine out call, the base umpire should make sure that he/she is not overly loud on the call so as to not draw unnecessary attention to himself/herself or the play. However, the umpire should vary the intensity of his/her signal and voice based on the closeness of the play. In other words, the closer the play, the louder the umpire's voice and the stronger his/her signal, so that he/she is using his/her loudest voice and strongest signal on "bangers."
   After calling the batter-runner out at 1st base, the umpire will return to his/her original position on the 1st base foul line. He/she may either jog back to that position or walk briskly; either method is acceptable.
   After calling the batter-runner safe at 1st base, the umpire will come back down to his/her "set" position .(hands on knees) watching the batter-runner return to 1st base and watching for any possible action or play that may occur. By coming back to the set position and keeping his/her eyes on what has happened since the batter-runner has crossed over the 1st base bag, the base umpire is stating to all that "I saw the play, I got it right and I'm here for anything that may happen." After the batter-runner has returned to 1st base, the base umpire will either jog or walk briskly to the "B" position.
   On a ground ball to the infield with no one on base, the plate umpire will come out from behind home plate by coming around the left side and then proceed to jog (not sprint) down the 1st base line (straddling the foul line to a position no more than two to three feet into foul territory), going no farther than the 30 foot line. He/she should be completely stopped when the play occurs at 1st base. There are four reasons for having the plate umpire come up the line with no one on base:

  1. The plate umpire will be watching for interference by the batter­ runner while out of the 30-foot runner's lane. Should the plate umpire see such an infraction, he/she should make the call. This is not to say, however, that the base umpire may never make such a call. For example, if the base umpire observes the batter-runner interfere with the play at 1st base while clearly out of the 30-foot runners lane, it is of course permissible for the base umpire to make this call also.
  2. The plate umpire will be ready for any overthrows at 1st base. If the plate umpire sees the ball being overthrown at I n base, he/she will immediately and rapidly move with the overthrow and take responsibility for the ball going out of play.
  3. The plate umpire is also in a position to help on swipe tags on the batter-runner at l' base. Although this is rarely used, it is permissible for the base umpire to ask for help on a swipe tag on this play if, for some reason, the base umpire has not had a good look at the play. (Note that the base umpire should initiate the "appeal" immediately and before a confrontation with a player or manager occurs.) The terminology by the base umpire would be, "Sam, did he/she tag him/her!" or "Sam, do you have a tag?" while pointing to the plate umpire. The response by the plate umpire would be a very emphatic, "Yes! He/she's out on the tag!" or "No! He/she missed him/her!" (While using a strong visual signal). Again, this technique is rarely used (because, for one thing the base umpire should be in fairly good position for the play to begin with); and when it is used, the plate umpire must emphatically sell the call (verbally and with a strong visual signal).
  4. The plate umpire is also in position to help on a pulled foot by the first baseman. It is highly recommended that if the first basemen has pulled his/her foot off the bag and the base umpire does not have a good angle or vision on the play, he/she will ask the plate umpire for help before making a call. The terminology by the base umpire would be "Sam, did he/she pull his/her foot?" or "Sam, did he/she have his/her foot on the base?" while pointing at the home plate umpire. The response would be a very emphatic "Yes his/her foot was off the bag!" or "No, he/she had contact all the way!" by the plate umpire.

   Once again, on a ground ball hit to the infield, the base umpire should try to take all plays in fair territory, working for an approximate 90° angle to the throw. This would include all ground balls hit to 3rd base, shortstop, back to the pitcher, and to the 2nd baseman's right or directly at the 2nd baseman.
   If the ground ball is tapped in front of the plate, or down either baseline within the imaginary box area, a unique and different positioning will be used. The imaginary box area is an area formed by two lines, one starting at the 30 foot line on the 1st base line, the other starting at the 30 foot line on the 3rd base line and intersecting at the pitchers mound. In this area when the catcher, pitcher, first baseman or third baseman fields the ball, the base umpire will come into fair territory as far as, but not beyond the 1st to 2nd baseline, and try to establish a 90° angle to the throw. This happens frequently on a half swing or bunt and the theory behind this is that after establishing the 90° angle and there is an overthrow at first base, the base umpire is in a perfect position to take a step or two into the infield "working area" to be ready for any possible play on the batter-runner if he/she decides to advance to second base. This will make it possible for the base umpire to stay ahead of the runner and to be in position for the play at 2nd base.
   However, if the ground ball is hit down the 1st base line in the vicinity of 1st base, the base umpire must stay on the line until the ball is touched (or passes 1st base) because the base umpire has fair/foul responsibility after I 't base, while the plate umpire has this responsibility until the ball reaches 1st base. If the base umpire must point the ball fair (as on a ball fielded by the 1st baseman behind the bag, but near the line); he/she would first indicate that the ball is fair (by pointing) and then move off the line into fair territory to make the call at 1st base.