About Us - Mission Statement

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.

Don’t Try To Win The Argument

Republished from Referee.com

As an official, when you are involved in a conflict, your goal is to resolve it. You have to fight the tendency to want to win the argument. It’s a subtle difference but critical to conflict management.

When resolving a conflict, the best outcome is when there are two “winners.” If there is only one winner, self-esteem and trust erodes in the loser. To avoid that, strive to keep an open dialogue and keep thinking about the words you choose and the way they impact the situation. There’s an old officiating saying that summarizes this philosophy: “As officials, we always have the last word. However, we don’t always have to say it.”

1. Permit the other person to talk without interrupting

Have the courtesy to listen before you say anything. It is then more likely that the other person will extend you the same courtesy. When both sides have been adequately heard, problem solving begins.

A Retired NL umpire Doug Harvey, one of the most respected ever to work in the profession, applied his “10-Second Rule.” He gave a manager who argued with him 10 seconds to vent before Harvey responded. His theory: The comments from the arguer were so emotional that his breath couldn’t last for more than 10 seconds. When he stopped to take a breath, Harvey could calmly begin his explanation.

2. Limit discussion only to the immediate issue that is adversely affecting your relationship

One of the fastest ways to get off to a bad start in solving a problem is to rehash the past or bring the discussion into other non-pertinent issues. A few coaches like to do that. You’ve got to “keep them in the box,” meaning keep them focused on the play or situation they are complaining about. Coaches may try to talk about things that happened earlier in the game. When they do that, say something like, “Let’s focus on this play and get it resolved. Now, how did you see this play?”

3. Choose an optimal time to bring up and discuss problems

Many problems that compromise positive conflict resolution can be avoided by carefully choosing the time to discuss an issue. To find that time, approach the other person when you are both calm and free to talk. Dead-ball time, like during a timeout or between periods, is a great time for officials to talk to people. Keep the conversations focused and brief.

4. Judiciously avoid the other person’s vulnerabilities or emotional sensitivities

Everyone has personal vulnerabilities and it’s very tempting to hit below the belt. It is a sign of maturity to avoid those areas when engaged in conflict. A deliberate strike at a personal vulnerability is irrelevant as well as hurtful. It also invites a counterattack focusing on your areas of sensitivity. No one will trust you with emotionally sensitive information if you use it as a weapon whenever there is a problem. In other words, it is inappropriate for the official to counterattack. A testy umpire once shouted to a coach who had questioned a safe call in softball, “I see that white hair under your cap. You probably think your huge experience entitles you to second guess me.” Sarcasm is never a good instrument for promoting serenity.

Probably the biggest temptation to avoid is using a team’s record or game score as a weapon. When a team is losing in lopsided fashion and a coach or player is complaining about a call, it is very tempting to fire back with, “You’ve won only three games this year and you’re down a bunch today. Maybe you should start focusing on playing instead of officiating. You’ve got a lot of work to do.” While the premise behind that statement is true, saying it gets you in trouble. You’ve used a team’s vulnerability to your advantage, a bona fide taboo.

5. Regularly touch base with the other person

It is customary not to take the time to talk when things seem to be going well. If you don’t talk when things are going well, then angry interactions may be the only times when you connect with coaches and players. Make it a point to make periodic comments about the progress of the game, even if those remarks may be innocuous. Continuing dialogue is one of the best possible ways to avoid problems. That concept straddles a fine line too. You want lines of communication open with participants, but you can’t have a constant running dialogue with them. Talking should be limited to brief words at appropriate times, such as during a dead-ball interval. Keep in mind you are only sending the message that you are willing to communicate; you are not commenting on all facets of play.

Learn additional advanced techniques for resolving arguments and conflicts with Verbal Judo, available in the Referee Training Center store.


[Baseball] - Illegal Slide Clarification / Electronic Communication Equipment Failure - Procedure

From: Joe Belger, BCUA Baseball Interpreter
To: All Baseball / Dual Umpires
Re: Illegal Slide Clarification / Electronic Communication Equipment Failure - Procedure

At the baseball mechanics meeting on Tuesday March 19th, there was a discussion on a play involving an illegal slide. The question was asked if this resulted in a dead ball or a delayed dead ball.  The answer given was that it is a delayed dead ball.  This is incorrect. It is interference committed by the offense, and as such, it is an immediate dead ball. If it involves a force play slide rule violation, you would rule a double play.

Additionally, there has been a question asked about teams using electronic communication equipment and the implications of charged conferences  if it stops working. Treat the trip the same as an injury trip. Accompany the coach to the player and observe and listen to the conversation. It should only involve the coach and catcher. As long as the conversation is only related to the repair of the device, it will not be a charged conference. If the device cannot be fixed, have the catcher remove the earpiece and play on.

Should it become abusive where you think they are trying to delay or buy the pitcher time, you can warn the coach that you are going to charge him with a conference(s).


Optimal Positioning at Home Plate


The evolution of the mechanics of calling plays at home plate has been fascinating to observe.
Plate umpires can make decisions on 250 to 300 pitches in a game, but one call at the plate might decide the outcome of the game. Consequently, the umpire community commits a lot of training to developing the best ways to judge plays at home plate. For many decades, umpires approached plays at the plate using the first-base line extended method, commonly referred to as 1BX. Plate umpires stand at an imaginary line that would extend the first-base foul line into foul territory past home plate.
About 20 years ago, a new technique emerged called third-base line extended known as 3BX. This is the opposite position from 1BX with plate umpires standing on an imaginary line from the third-base foul line.

One Call at the Plate Might Determine the Outcome of the Game

The gradual change in this practice recently produced a new tactic called, “The Wedge.”
“I first learned The Wedge at a camp three years ago in New Jersey,” said Mike Lum, a 20-year umpire who has worked on the college level for the last five years. “I’ve had conversations with minor league and college umps about The Wedge and we all wonder why we are just hearing about this. I think the major league umpires have been using this method for a while, but someone coined the phrase The Wedge only recently.”
From all accounts, The Wedge has been practiced for 5-7 years in the northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., area before blossoming recently into a hot trend on the East Coast over the last 2-4 years. The other dynamic that has widened the use of this new mechanic is the increased movement of catchers who want to avoid violating new obstruction rules during plays at home. Catchers are now starting several feet in front of home plate as opposed to standing on or near it in the past.
So why is it called The Wedge? Think of a shape of a wedge or a triangle. The two sides of the wedge represent the path of the runner and the flight of the ball. An umpire using The Wedge would be in between those two lines to see the point of the play where the tag is applied.
Chris Marshall is a major advocate of The Wedge. Marshall has worked college baseball for the last 21 years and appeared in his fourth NCAA Division I Super Regional last year at the University of North Carolina.
“I’ve completely bought into using The Wedge,” said Marshall, who is the interim president of the New Jersey-based United Collegiate Umpires. “I can remember missing two plays at the plate in a Division I postseason tournament game a few years ago because I was using the old-school thinking. I read the plays correctly but they developed differently than I expected and I got them both wrong. The Wedge now gives me a whole new view of plays at the plate.”
The 1BX and 3BX positions have been commonly taught as places to stand and watch. The Wedge, however, is all about movement and putting umpires in a position to see the play completely and correctly. A key difference between The Wedge and the 1BX-3BX methods is that the home plate umpire is keying off the catcher’s movements to gain a good position to see the play. Using 1BX and 3BX, umpires use the flight of the ball. It is a new mindset.
“In the past, umpires would choose a pre-determined place to stand, either at the point of the plate or at the first-base or third-base line extended. That puts umpires in a pretty good position to see most plays. But if the play explodes, they will not get the best angle,” Marshall said.
Marshall cites four specific plays where The Wedge helps umpires get the optimal view at plays at home plate:
  • Swipe tags (when the catcher applies a tag using a swipe motion)

  • Crash plays (when the catcher and runner collide)

  • Block plays (when the catcher blocks the runner from reaching the plate)

  • Dropped balls (when the catcher drops the ball)

“I had been using third-base line extended for years until I learned The Wedge at a clinic two years ago in Binghamton (N.Y.),” said Sal Algozzino, a 23-year umpire who has worked two D-II regionals in his career. “The Wedge allows you to see all types of plays at the plate, but you can’t just stand in one place like we used to do. You must be very aggressive and be ready to move.”
When using The Wedge, some instructors say umpires should act like backpacks for the catchers while others urge umpires to stay on the catcher’s glove-side hip. Here are the mechanics of working the wedge:
  • Locate the ball.

  • Position yourself 2-3 feet immediately behind the catcher, lining up with the catcher’s left hip.

  • Move in-step with the catcher and remain 2-3 feet behind him.

  • Be prepared to make a final step — the “Read Step” — to see the tag applied. Marshall added, “Umpires need to take quiet, purposeful steps as the ball arrives to put themselves into that window to see the play.”

Two key parts of The Wedge mechanic contradict traditional thinking about home plate coverage, according to Marshall. First, umpires have been taught to keep 4-8 feet away from the play to have a wider field of vision. Second, umpires have been advised not to go into fair territory to call plays at the plate. Umpires using The Wedge often wind up in fair territory in front of the plate or even up the third -base line.
Marshall said, “The Wedge can be difficult to grasp right away but it is worth sticking with it because of the advantages it gives you in seeing the play. The game is changing and we need to change with it. As umpires, we might see a close play at the plate once a month so it may take a while to practice it. I wish we had more bangers at the plate so we could work on it.”
Tim Gaiser, a 23-year umpire who has worked college baseball for the last 18 years in upstate New York, is another proponent of The Wedge.
“I learned The Wedge four years ago and I now apply the wedge fundamentals to plays all over the field,” said Gaiser. “The Wedge has helped me immensely. I look at it this way: I umpire baseball games involving boys ages 15-22. They stay the same age every year but I get one year older every year, so I need to find ways to be more efficient. The Wedge challenges what has been taught for years, but it puts us in the best place to see the play. It makes us better umpires.”

NJSIAA Pregame Sportsmanship Anti-Bias Statement - Revised

Effective with the Spring 2022 season, the following statement from the NJSIAA must be read before all sanctioned high school games without paraphrasing, regardless of level:

The NJSIAA requires officials to enforce all rules regarding unsportsmanlike conduct by coaches and players. There will be no tolerance for any negative behavior, such as taunting, trash-talking and verbal, written, or physical conduct related to race, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or religion. Such behavior will result in being ejected from this event. All participants must respect the game, respect the officials, and respect their opponents.