One of the best ways, as an umpiring team, to
demonstrate to both the managers and teams that your crew is ready and prepared
to officiate the game is the professionalism that is demonstrated by your crew
when conducting the meeting at home plate.
The plate meeting really
starts when you walk the field prior to the game looking for potential problems
on the field which may cause you to invoke a special ground rule. The pre-game
meeting with your umpiring crew should be conducted prior to going on the
field. All conditions and situations that might be discussed at the pre-game
meeting should be discussed then and not during the plate meeting. The plate
meeting is run by the plate umpire and no one from the crew should interrupt or
have any input during the plate meeting. If one of the crew wants something
brought up at the plate meeting, they should mention it to the plate umpire
during the pre-game meeting. By following this guideline, the plate meeting
will be organized, well managed and without interruption.
the field, make sure you walk onto the field together with your partner(s).
Walk briskly together directly to home plate. On the way to the plate, you may
acknowledge managers or coaches on the sidelines, but don't stop and have a
conversation with them. Go directly to the plate. This is important, because as
soon as you enter the field, you are setting an example for both teams on your
appearance and authority. Make sure the crew is wearing the uniform and
carrying their equipment correctly. Don't have the plate mask dangling down at
your side as if you were carrying your lunch bucket.
Once at the plate,
the plate umpire should be at the point of the plate, with his partner(s)
facing the plate umpire with their back to the playing field. Do not allow
players to be on the field while you are having your plate meeting. This is a
big distraction for the umpiring team as well as the managers. The teams should
be in their dugouts or in the vicinity of the dugout. Both managers should be
present at the plate meeting before the plate umpire begins the
The plate umpire runs the plate conference! The plate
conference should not last more than two or three minutes. Begin by receiving
the lineup cards according to rule procedures. While receiving the lineup
cards, introduce yourself to the managers and have them introduce each other.
Once you have both lineup cards, introduce your crew to the managers. While
inspecting the lineup cards for the proper content, it's fine for there to be
conversation going on between your crew and the managers, but monitor the
conversation so it doesn't get out of hand. When you address the managers make
eye contact with them and make sure they give you a verbal answer when you ask
a question. This is important, because most of the time they're not paying
attention to anything at the plate conference. They're more interested in their
strategy of managing their game.
After you give the managers their
lineups, there should only be a minimum number of comments and questions by the
plate umpire, as an example: (1) Are all your players properly equipped
according to the rules? (2) Are both of you familiar with the ground rules (You
don't need to go over ground rules if the teams have played on the field
before, and your crew has umpired on this field before, unless there will be
special ground rules for the day)? (3) Are there any local ground rules for
this field? (4) All changes must come through me. (5) Have a great game and
please keep your players hustling. This is all you need. The plate meeting is
not a clinic. Don't ask your partners for any information and don't ask the
managers if they have any questions. This could open up all kinds of questions
about situations in prior games, rules, etc. You should keep the plate meeting
short and to the point. Don't talk about "what if this happens" scenarios.
These assumed scenarios may never come up in your game, and if they do, you can
handle them in a professional manner when they do. If your plate meeting drags
out, it affects your game management and there's no baseball being
If you follow these few simple steps, you will demonstrate
you're in control, you look professional, and as a result, you will gain
respect from the managers, coaches and players.