Umpire spring training in Hampton Roads

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY)- As the long cold winter of 2014 continues, here is a welcome sound to baseball fans. “Strike three!” Call it spring training for the Eastern Virginia Officials Association.

Jim Smith is the commissioner of EVOA which has some 160 members. “They go though what we call umpiring 101 to 109 where they do 9 nights of instruction for three hours. Then we have 7 nights where we meet with the entire association for another 3 hours. Then they are able to start umpiring.”

Timing, mechanics and positioning are crucial to getting calls right where at these sessions, umps are video taped for later analysis. Smith says, “We give them a disk which they can take home and then we will get together as a group and show them what they may have done wrong.”

Members of EVOA call roughly 7000 games a year at every level from coach pitch to college. Knowing the rulebook is crucial to this process. Chad Foltz says, “The highest level of perfection is what we are looking for. We are expected to be perfect and just get better from there.”

Preparation is the key to the pursuit of perfection where Murphy’s law happens more often than not.  Foltz says, “If you say you have not had this occur in the past 10 years, its gonna happen that game. That plays gonna come up, that rules gonna come up. You have to be prepared.”

At times coaches will question certain calls, Smith instructs his umpires to allow the process to happen, respectfully. “Coaches just want to be heard and if you treat them with respect,  and your not aggressive and you defuse the situation, most times they will go back to the dugout.”

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