2021 RIABUA COVID-19 Guidelines for Umpires

RIABUA has issued the following coronavirus safety guidance for umpires for the start of the 2021 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.

REVISED 3/22/2021

Status Update

  • Massachusetts is currently in Phase 4, Step 1 of the state’s reopening plan. Based on state EEA guidelines, umpires are required to:
    • Wear a face covering at all times during active play, but permitted to take face covering breaks when they are out of the proximity of others 
    • Continue sportsmanship in a touchless manner — no handshakes/fist bumps

Game Preliminaries

  • RIABUA umpires must report to the field a half hour prior to first pitch.
  • 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 should report his absence to the assigner at least 2 hours prior to a scheduled game start time. Common symptoms are available on the CDC website. A test may be recommended before returning to the field, depending on circumstances.
  • The umpire-in-charge designated by RIABUA for each game will ensure umpire compliance with league specific coronavirus-related safety guidelines.
  • The umpire-in-charge will have disposable masks available to provide to any umpire who does not have a mask.
  • The umpire-in-charge will have hand sanitizer available for all umpires to use as needed.
  • 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, indicator and EVEN baseballs when ALLOWED!
  • Umpires will work behind home plate using traditional mechanics, but should be mindful of distance from the catcher between pitches.
  • Umpires shall continue not to handle baseballs. Teams may decide at the plate meeting whether the home team will keep the supply or if both teams will provide game balls for their own players while on defense.

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 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.
  • It is especially important you remember to wear the mask during any discussion with coaches or other on-field personnel.
  • 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.
  • If an RIABUA umpire observes any 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 the coach refuses, the offender shall be immediately ejected from the game. The umpire should transmit a report on the incident to the assigner.
  • If an RIABUA umpire observes any player who is in violation of league and state guidelines on personal protective equipment, the umpire should address the violation with the coach separately between innings. 
  • At the home plate meeting, umpires should instruct coaches to maintain a safe distance and follow state face covering guidelines while seeking clarification on a call. Any coach who does not do so is subject to immediate ejection. If, following an ejection, a coach refuses to stop arguing within unsafe distance of an umpire, or refuses to wear a face covering, the game will be declared a forfeit and the umpire is instructed to leave the playing field.

Following the Game

  • The umpire should leave the field following the final out. RIABUA umpires should 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 available here.
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