RIABUA has issued the following coronavirus safety guidance for umpires for the start of the 2020 season. RIABUA will review and update these guidelines as needed during the season based on the most current medical data and state and local guidelines.
- RIABUA umpires must report to the field a half hour prior to first pitch to allow for screening. Any umpire not arriving within this time frame may be sent home and replaced by the umpire-in-charge.
- RIABUA will designate an umpire-in-charge that will oversee pre-game responsibilities at ALL RIABUA assigned games. These assignments will be made available to the league(s).
- The umpire-in-charge will ensure all umpires working have completed a COVID-19 self-check, meaning the umpire has confirmed he has no symptoms of the virus before arriving at the park.
- Any umpire with symptoms of the virus should NOT report to the park and call the umpire assigner to indicate this at least 2 hours prior to game time. That umpire will be monitored for additional symptoms, and a test may be recommended before returning to the field.
- The umpire-in-charge designated by RIABUA for each game will ensure umpire compliance with league specific coronavirus-related safety guidelines before the umpire takes the field.
- The umpire-in-charge will have disposable masks available to provide to any umpire who forgets to bring one.
- The umpire-in-charge will have hand sanitizer available for all umpires to use before taking the field.
- Umpires will not carry baseballs.
- RIABUA will make every effort to stagger umpires so the same umpire is not working a set of games if and while a facemask is a requirement.
- All umpires taking the field MUST have signed and returned a COVID-19 waiver provided by the association.
- In order to maintain a professional appearance, RIABUA expects any umpire working behind home plate to wear a ball bag, which can be used to carry a brush and indicator, even though baseballs will not be handled.
- Any umpire working behind the pitcher’s mound should not wear a ball bag. Use a back pocket to carry brush/indicator.
During the Game
- Umpires should conduct a thorough plate meeting with managers. ALL umpires on the crew should be involved in the plate meeting. The crew chief designated for the game will be provided with an ‘RIABUA Plate Meeting Card’ which will list the items that must be discussed prior to starting the game. These include local ground rules and house rules in addition to coronavirus-related rules. The plate umpire should establish a ‘point person’ from each team that will handle baseballs coming in and out of the game as to keep the game moving.
- RIABUA requires all umpires to follow local guidelines set by the park/league hosting the game. The association guidelines listed here shall not supersede any local rules.
- In addition, RIABUA makes the following recommendations: If a mask requirement is in effect by state or local regulations, wear a mask at all times. Taking the mask off for water between innings, etc. is okay. If no mask requirement is in effect, umpires should use good judgement on distancing and may wear a mask if they choose to do so.
- If a requirement to work behind the pitcher’s mound is in effect by state or local regulations, RIABUA umpires must follow the local regulation. Otherwise, umpires may choose to stand behind home plate in the normal slot position to call balls and strikes, or may choose to work behind the mound. RIABUA recommends working behind the plate when possible for safety reasons and greater accuracy of calls.
- Point of Emphasis: Any umpire who observes a pitcher going to his mouth/licking his fingers and then going to the baseball should warn the pitcher to stop, and the baseball shall be removed from the game. Any further violation will result in a call of ‘BALL’ to the batter. This has always been a rule however we will instruct umpires to order the the ball removed after the initial warning, for safety purposes.
- If an RIABUA umpire observes a coach who is in violation of league guidelines on personal protective equipment, the umpire shall stop the game immediately and request that the coach become compliant. If coach refuses, if possible, report the situation to the ranking league official on-site and the umpire-in-charge, if on-site. If the offender refuses to comply, the offender shall be immediately ejected from the game. In either instance (warning or ejection), the umpire should transmit a report on the incident to the assignor if there was no league official or umpire-in-charge present.
- At the home plate meeting, umpires should instruct coaches to maintain a safe distance/follow local guidelines while seeking clarification on a call. If a coach continues to argue a call at an unreasonable distance from the umpire after being provided with an explanation, the coach is subject to ejection. If, after ejection, a coach refuses to stop arguing within unsafe distance of an umpire, the game will be declared a forfeit and the umpire is instructed to leave the playing field.
- RIABUA will provide umpires with mechanics for working behind the pitcher’s mound, if necessary. Otherwise all normal mechanics should be used.
Following the Game
- The umpire should remain on the field and ensure league regulations regarding handshake lines are followed. RIABUA umpires shall not engage in handshakes, fist-bumps, or other such physical contact with team personnel during a game or after a game has concluded.
- If there were any on-field incidents regarding coronavirus rules they should be reported in writing to the assigner using the online RIABUA report form.
- The umpire should clear the premises in a reasonable amount of time after changing out of his uniform.