What it’s like to attend umpire camp, Update 2.

What If a Batted Ball Bludgeons a Squirrel? A Report From Umpire School.

What If a Batted Ball Bludgeons a Squirrel? A Report From Umpire School.

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Jan. 8 2016 5:31 PM
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Umpire School Diary: Update 2

I’ve been holding my own.

Welcome to Wendelstedt!
Welcome to Wendelstedt!

Courtesy of Seth Stevenson

Our end-of-year membership drive was a success! Slate Plus has a bunch of new members, and Seth Stevenson arrived at umpire school earlier this week. He’ll be posting updates for members every few days.

Seth Stevenson Seth Stevenson

Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.

Greetings, Slate Plus subscribers. I’ve just completed Day 4 of umpire school. The curriculum is getting intense.

Quick: What’s the maximum circumference for a regulation catcher’s mitt? Can you name the three elements necessary for a legal catch? What happens if the shortstop gets ejected midplay for whining and then subsequently tags a runner out? What if a batted ball bludgeons a squirrel in fair territory and sends both ball and squirrel bounding into foul ground?

Important lessons from camp.
Important lessons from camp.

Courtesy of Seth Stevenson

I’ve been holding my own. I’ve practiced my mask work a bunch and can pretty smoothly yank it off (without sending my hat flying) as I burst out from behind home plate to observe a bunted ball trickling down the third baseline. I also managed to nail a call on the base paths today—got in proper stance, used preferred arm mechanics—though I then failed to correctly track the rest of the play. My voice is hoarse, which is a good sign: I’m making my strike calls authoritatively. 

Next week, I’ll send you some visuals with a little video blog I’ve been putting together. I hope you like it. If you don’t, keep mum about it—otherwise it’s “Adios, Jones!” (That’s our slang for ejecting someone. I’m trying to switch it to “Auf Wiedersehen, McGillicuddy!” but I haven’t gotten a lot of traction so far.) 

Previously: