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.

NFHS 2020 Baseball Rules Changes - Expanded Designated Hitter Role Coming to High School Baseball

 

The role of the designated hitter in high school baseball has been expanded to give coaches an additional option for the 2020 season.

The revision to Rule 3-1-4 was the only change recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Baseball Rules Committee at its June 2-4 meeting in Indianapolis. The change was subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

“The game is in the best shape it has ever been in the history of high school baseball,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and liaison to the NFHS Baseball Rules Committee. “This has allowed coaches to coach, players to play and umpires to umpire. This change, which was organic and intuitive, expands the role of the designated hitter and meets the desires of the high school baseball community.

There are now two scenarios in which a designated hitter may be used.

The first scenario is the traditional use where the designated hitter may be a 10th starter who hits for any one of the nine starting defensive players. The team begins the game with 10 starters: nine defensive players and nine hitters in the batting order, one of whom is the designated hitter hitting for a defensive player.

“The traditional designated hitter role remains intact,” Hopkins said. “However, the committee felt it was necessary to make an additional option available to coaches that could be strategic but also maximize participation.”

The change to Rule 3-1-4 now allows the starting designated hitter to also be a starting defensive player. Utilizing this option, the player has two positions: defensive player and designated hitter. The team would begin the game with nine starters -- nine defensive players -- one of whom also assumes the role of the designated hitter.

“With the change adding pitch-count restrictions to high school baseball, this will allow pitchers to remain in the game as a hitter while removing them from pitching,” Hopkins said. “Typically, pitchers are stronger hitters as well. However, the intent of the rule is not for it to become strictly a pitcher-designated hitter role. The rule provides additional avenues for other position players as well. The change allows coaches to strategize how to keep players in the game to contribute offensively while allowing another player a chance to participate on defense.”

Additionally, a prior rules change involving baseballs and chest and body protectors will take effect on January 1, 2020. As of that date, all baseballs and chest and body protectors used in high school baseball competition shall meet the NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) standard at the time of manufacture.

According to the 2017-18 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, there are 487,097 boys participating in baseball at 16,196 schools across the country, and 1,762 girls playing the sport in 317 schools.

All baseball rules information 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 BCUA Dinner Awards

Bob LeWinter Award
Josh Cohen - Indian Hills High School
 
Warren “Pops” Tashian Award
Chloe Collister - Park Ridge High School
 
BARNEY FINN AWARD - For Outstanding Service to the B.C.U.A.
Gary Hemmer
 
RAY FARRICKER MEMORIAL AWARD - “INTEGRITY, PRIDE,  ENTHUSIASM,  HUSTLE”
John Way
 
School Sportmanship Awards
 
ED STROHMEYER SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD - BERGEN COUNTY BASEBALL
Pascack Valley High School
 
DON CASAMENTO SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD - BERGEN COUNTY SOFTBALL
Northern Highlands High School
 
PETE AMORUSO SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD - PASSAIC COUNTY BASEBALL
DePaul Catholic High School
 
GEORGE LUCAS SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD - PASSAIC COUNTY SOFTBALL
Passaic County Vo-Tech High School
 
Special Awards:
 
Bergen County Coaches - Pete Amoruso Award
Raymond Skold
 
“Mike Stang” Baseball Service Award
Peter Zubiaurre

BCUA MEMBERS WORKING FINALS

County Finals
 
BB Bergen: Manny Bernardez, Shaun Meurer, Steve Schlitzer, Savvas Stavrau
 
SB Bergen: John Shields, John Ziemba, Anthony Genarelli
 
BB Passaic County:   Stosh Bavarro, Jim Rapp
 
SB Passaic County:  Stosh Bavarro,  Anthony Genarelli
 
GNT (Essex County Final) SB:  John Gojdycz
 
Morris County Final BB:  Todd Maupai
 
Morris County Final SB:  Peggy Schneider
 
State Tournament
 
Sectional Finals BB;  Jerry Picazio, Bruce Grossberg, Steve Schlitzer, Bob Kilmurray, John Giambarrese, Len Ancuta, Savvas Stavrou, Joe Belger , Jr., Ken Schoonmaker, Leighton Yates
 
Sectional Finals SB: John Way, Glen Mezzatesta, Stosh Bavarro, Todd Maupi, Carlo Santaniello, Wayne Briggs, Anthony Genarelli, John Gojdycz,
 
BB State Semi-finals: Manny Bernardez, Ray Perez, Bob Kilmurray
 
SB State Semi-finals: John Gojdycz, Mike Agnello, and Hank Teel
 
State Final BB: Jim Kelly, Tom Clare, Joe Belger, Jr.
 
State Final SB: Mike Agnello, Jack Phillips, Gene Luccarrelli

Deaf umpire has been on the job in NJ for years, but first he had to prove skeptics wrong

Republished from North Jersey Record (NorthJersey.com)


Darren Cooper, North Jersey Record (Varsity Aces)

FAIR LAWN — Jonathan Breuer makes it clear. He’s deaf, and you can call him that.

On the softball and baseball fields in North Jersey, he answers to a different title.

Umpire.

The 57-year-old Fair Lawn resident has been umpiring since 2013, and has been working as a soccer official since before that. He loves being involved in sports, helping his community. It makes him feel young.

He also wants to let people know that being deaf isn’t a hindrance to doing what you enjoy.

“I want to show the world what deaf people can do,” Breuer said.

Bergen Tech softball vs. Waldwick in the Donna Ricker Tournament at Wood-Ridge High School on Saturday, April 13, 2019. (left) Umpire Jon Breuer.
Bergen Tech softball vs. Waldwick in the Donna Ricker Tournament at Wood-Ridge High School on Saturday, April 13, 2019. (left) Umpire Jon Breuer.  (Photo: Michael Karas/NorthJersey.com)

His speech isn't clear, but it became easier to understand Breuer during our conversation. He’s energetic and engaging, but his best avenue of communication is sign language to his wife, Sari. She’s also his biggest fan.

“I am so proud of him,” Sari said. “I work in the deaf community and I see the discrimination that happens and the challenges they face every day. Jon just goes out and does his job and does it really well. It’s pretty amazing.”

The path to becoming an umpire

Breuer grew up in Brooklyn. He was born deaf; the nerves in his inner ear don’t function. Hearing aids would help, but he grew weary of taking care of them and the impact was negligible.

He said that twice when he was young, doctors tried experimental techniques on him, once electroshock and another time acupuncture.

“Nothing worked,” he said with a smile.

That didn’t stop Breuer from being active and graduating from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf/Rochester Institute of Technology with an engineering degree. He later worked on Wall Street and got a second degree at Montclair State.

Through the deaf community, Breuer became friends with Peter Rozynski, a deaf umpire who has worked for more than 20 years and lives in Florida.

When Breuer’s Wall Street job dried up, his first thought was to become an umpire. Sari went to the training classes with him and signed for him, so he could understand.

He was met with skepticism.

“A lot of umpires have different perspectives, one was in shock and said I shouldn’t be an umpire, he was really angry and said he was going to call [the Bergen County Umpires Association],” Breuer said. “I’m like fine, go ahead. We started the game and after he came up to me and he apologized. He said you did a great job.”

How he makes it work

When you think about it, just how much does a baseball and softball umpire have to verbalize? When working behind the plate, Breuer can bark out "strike," and signal the count with his hands. He said he’s very conscious of giving the count every three pitches.

It’s well known inside baseball and softball that on a close play at first base, the umpire is trained to watch the foot hit the bag and listen for the sound of the ball in the glove. How does Breuer do that? He has an answer.

“My visual processing is about .8 times faster than my hearing,” Breuer said. “I am not saying I am 100 percent perfect. I have made mistakes on close calls, but I believe my percentage of making the right call is very high.”

Bergen Tech softball vs. Waldwick in the Donna Ricker Tournament at Wood-Ridge High School on Saturday, April 13, 2019. (left) Umpire Jon Breuer.  (Photo: Michael Karas/NorthJersey.com)

There’s another longstanding joke that coaches want kids from orphanages (no parents to deal with) and every umpire should be deaf (ditto).

Breuer agrees.

“A lot of umpires have told me you are so lucky that you can’t hear,” Breuer said. “I was told the average umpire quits after four years. I have been [officiating] for 13 years and I feel fine. I feel relaxed. You can ignore all that chitter-chatter.”

But what happens when conflict does arise? BCUA President Peter Zubiarre said Breuer carries around post-it notes just in case he has a message to deliver. He said the only accommodation made for Breuer is that he'll often communicate with other umpires through email the night before instead of having a verbal pregame meeting.

Zubiarre said the feedback on Breuer from coaches and other umpires has been positive.

Jonathan Breuer, left, with his wife Sari in their home in Fair Lawn. (Photo: Darren Cooper)

“We’re happy and he’s moving up the ladder,” Zubiarre said. “I don’t want to sound corny, but I look at Jon as almost like someone running the marathon with a disability. He’s admirable for sure.”

Breuer gets a delight from when kids or coaches recognize him and sign "hello" or "thank you." His goal is to umpire a college game in New Jersey.

“I faced oppression and I overcame that, I can’t let people oppress me, I just can’t,” Breuer said. “I know deaf people and I try to encourage them that they can do anything they want to do and I want to show them and the rest of the hearing world that deaf people can do anything.”

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.”

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