About Us - Bergen County Umpires Association

The Bergen County Umpires Association is an organization of baseball and softball umpires certified to officiate high school contests in New Jersey.

Our purpose is:

  • promote the welfare of the games of baseball and softball on the county level by uniformly interpreting and administering the rules of those games as set forth by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) and the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS).
  • promote and maintain the highest degree of baseball and softball officiating by following a uniform set of mechanics and have available at all times an adequate number of thoroughly trained and capable umpires.
  • preserve the traditions, foster the ideals, advance the interests and improve the quality and prestige of the baseball and softball umpires through a comprehensive program of classroom training and on-the-field experience and develop a spirit of friendship and maintain a high standard of ethics among umpires.

 

 

Seek Knowledge and Ye Shall Find

By Jon Bible
Republished from Referee Magazine


You're a young, aspiring official who is eager to seek knowledge anywhere you can about the rules, mechanics and philosophies applicable in your sport. You’re hoping to move up the ladder or just to get better. But you don’t feel you’re getting what you need from the training program in your group or association. What do you do?

This is not a problem at the major college or pro levels because the training is extensive and goes on year round. Officials spend a great deal of time, in clinics and otherwise, digging into the books and dissecting videos. That individual study complements the training afforded by a national coordinator or league supervisor. If you’re not getting what you need, it’s because you’re not taking full advantage of what exists. Or maybe, it’s a case of not putting forth the required effort.

In lower levels, however, there can be wide variations in the caliber of training provided. For one thing, states are different. In Texas, for example, the Texas Association of Sports Officials affords extensive training. The larger cities also have chapters that conduct training programs.

But not every state and sport is the same, so in many instances, officials may find themselves pretty much on their own. What then? It boils down to how proactive one wants to be.

I believe much of what is done at the collegiate level is readily transferable to lower levels. What is pass interference or a block/charge in Maine should be the same in Utah. Why should a high school baseball umpire not use the same stance that major leaguers use? Why should the strike zone in NCAA not be the same as it is in high school? NFHS rules may call for tweaking here and there, but not too much.

Access the plethora of information available to college officials

That leads me to believe that an aspiring official at any level would do well to figure out a way to access the plethora of information that is available to college officials. Yes, it may be necessary to change things a bit if your national, state or local authority has some unique twists that make what is done at the college level unworkable at other levels. But my experience is that although the rules and mechanics may be different at different levels, situations can and should be handled essentially the same way at all levels, so that training videos can be of immense help.

Something else whose importance should not be minimized is the value of a good mentor. There may not be formal mentorship in your group, but there will be solid, proven veterans, many of whom would be anxious to take a neophyte under their wing. If you’re new to officiating, and maybe even if you’re not, ask around to see who might qualify. Then approach that person and ask if he or she is willing to take you on as a project. A few won’t be, but most will; they’ll be flattered to be asked.

When I started officiating football in 1970, I did not have a mentor per se. But I quickly figured out how to become part of a group of eight to 10 veterans who got together at the same watering hole after chapter meetings. While a lot of the conversation was typical war-story talk, there was also a lot of common-sense back-and-forth that helped me learn how to navigate a football field better than anything I could have gotten out of a book. I used a lot of the techniques I learned back then for the rest of my career.

The bottom line is that I don’t think it matters where you are or what sport or what level you work. There is a wealth of information out there that will help you if you’re willing to figure out how to access it. Referee.com and NASO have plenty of resources. There are also many website discussion boards, some of which involve an exchange of useful knowledge (others are just forums for BS). Or try Googling. Some of what you learn may be at odds with what the powers-that-be in your group or sport have decreed, and in that case you have no choice but to do what you’re told to do. But a great deal of what you access can be used as-is.

Jon Bible is a replay official in the Southeastern Conference. A resident of Austin, Texas, he formerly officiated collegiate and pro football.

NFHS 2019 Softball Rules Changes - Focus of Equipment Rules Addressing Risk Minimization

 

Equipment rules designed to reduce risk of injury, as well as a clarification that the media area must be located in dead-ball territory, are among the high school softball rules changes for the 2019 season.

The four rules changes recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Softball Rules Committee at its June 11-13 meeting in Indianapolis were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

With revisions in Rules 1-1-7, 2-22-4 and 5-1-1, the home team or game management may designate a media area in dead-ball territory if the facility dictates.

“Requiring the media area to be located in dead-ball territory minimizes risk and continues efforts to improve the safety of participants, officials, fans and other essential personnel,” said Sandy Searcy, NFHS director of sports and staff liaison for softball.”

In another risk minimization change, Rule 1-8-4 permits an eye shield to be worn attached to the face/head protection only if it is constructed of a molded, rigid material that is clear and permits 100 percent (no tint) allowable light transmission. This change aligns with other softball equipment rules that currently prohibit tinted eye shields.

“The prohibition of tinted eye shields already exists in Rules 1-6-7 and 1-7-1,” Searcy said. “In an effort to promote risk minimization, tinted eye shields should be prohibited for defensive face/head protection.”

Among other rules changes was a clarification to Rule 1-5-2a, which permits a softball bat to have an adjustable knob, provided the knob is permanently fastened by the manufacturer. Any devices, attachments or wrappings that cause the knob to become flush with the handle are also permitted.

The final change approved by the committee in Rule 6 stipulates that the penalty for an illegal pitch is limited to the batter being awarded a ball. Previously, the batter was awarded a ball and all base runners were also awarded one base without liability to be put out.

“The new language creates more balance between offense and defense,” Searcy said. “In NFHS softball rules, the illegal pitch is designed to deceive the batter and, therefore, only the batter should receive the award.”

According to the 2016-17 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, there are 367,405 girls participating in fast-pitch softball at 15,440 schools.

A complete listing of the softball rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Softball.”

NFHS 2019 Baseball Rules Changes - Focus on Pitching Mechanics

 

The elimination of the requirement for the entire pivot foot to be in contact with the pitcher’s plate is among the changes approved for the 2018-19 high school baseball season.

This revision in Rule 6-1-3 was one of three changes recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Baseball Rules Committee at its June 3-5 meeting in Indianapolis. All changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

“We are very fortunate that the state of high school baseball is in an excellent position, which is indicative of the few rules changes that were passed,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and staff liaison for baseball. “We appreciate the hard work of dedicated coaches who, in addition to minimizing risk associated with the sport, teach the game in a way that makes our young people enjoy playing for their high school. We must also acknowledge the highly professional and responsible game umpires. Without their thorough knowledge and implementation of NFHS rules, we would not be able to enjoy the small injury rate and increase in player participation.”

The rationale behind the change to Rule 6-1-3 is a result of the difficulty for pitchers to consistently make contact with the pitcher’s plate when pivoting. Before starting the delivery, the pitcher shall stand with his entire non-pivot foot in front of a line extending through the front edge of the pitcher’s plate and with the pivot foot in contact with or directly in front of and parallel to the pitcher’s plate.

“The committee concluded that many pitching mounds are such that it is problematic for a pitcher to have his entire pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate,” Hopkins said. “Therefore, no advantage is gained by having some of the pivot foot not in direct contact with the pitcher’s plate.”

The committee also approved two new umpire signals. The two new signals, indicating calls for “Correct Rotation” and “Information Available,” were approved to further improve communication between partners.

“It is always wise to be able to communicate clearly with your partner(s) during a game,” Hopkins said. “With so many moving parts (defensive players, base runners, umpires), it is imperative that umpires communicate easily and inconspicuously from players and fans. These mechanics say a lot without brining attention to the signaling umpire.”

The “Correct Rotation” signal comes when in a three- or four-man mechanic, the umpires indicate to their partner(s) where they are rotating to a specific base for coverage of an anticipated play. The umpire(s) points with both hands in the direction of the base that they are moving toward.

To assist in providing pertinent information between partners, the “Information Available” signal occurs when the game umpire is indicating that he/she has some information that is relevant to their partner by tapping two times over the left chest (heart).

Additionally, the NFHS Rules Review Committee extended the implementation date to January 1, 2020, for baseballs to meet the NOCSAE standard. According to the 2016-17 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, there are 491,790 boys participating in baseball at 15,979 schools across the country, and 1,145 girls playing the sport in 269 schools.

A complete listing of the baseball rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page, and select “Baseball.”

2019 Member Registration Dues

2016 Member Registration

All members - please note that all registration fees must be paid/postmarked to the association by Monday, May 15, 2019.

MEMBERS SUBMITTING AFTER THAT DATE WILL BE ASSESSED LATE FEES!
 
THERE IS NO GRACE PERIOD!
 
 

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