Good evening gentlemen. I know this may have already been said, but again, welcome to the chapter!
You are joining a great group of guys and an outstanding chapter with quite an area to cover...from southeast of San Antonio to Yorktown, back toward I-37 and I-35, down to Laredo, up to Eagle Pass and Del Rio, then back on Hwy 90 with many schools in between.
As per TASO and Brush Country Chapter By-Laws, all new members must attend the UDS. I know some of you have prior experience in other leagues and we will tailor your training/mentoring accordingly.
We will try to make it as non-invasive as possible, but the bottom line is we still need approximately 20 - 24 hours of your time, spread out over the next couple of months to provide you with the most rudimentary foundation of mechanics and knowledge.
Here are the new members I am showing as requiring UDS, and are recipients of this e-mail:
Victor Baez (Exempted - Transfer)
*And we have one coach express interest in attending, which we welcome!
Here are the dates/times for the 2016 portion of the UDS, which will focus primarily on a classroom environment to provide you a solid rules base:
Week 1 (6 pm - 8pm)
8 December - TOPICS:
2017 Points of Emphasis
Week 2 (6 pm - 8pm)
13 December - TOPICS:
14 December - TOPICS:
Suspension of Play
As in my previous e-mail, please note the location at the Pleasanton Fire Station...303 West Hunt Street in Pleasanton.
Start time, unless otherwise indicated will be 1800. Goal is to complete each session in an hour and a half...no more than 1:45.
*** I can't stress enough how important it is for you to hit the books now...these sessions are minimal for covering this info. Start going over the Rule Book and the Case Book, which gives excellent practical scenarios to go along with the Rules Book.
And finally, the TASO Mechanics book...study ONLY the 2-man mechanic portion...don't worry about the 3- and 4-man stuff.
Please take at least 30 minutes a day to study those books. Great reading for the "office" visits.
I know some are concerned about the schedule and as I mentioned before, we will do everything within reason to accommodate people's schedules, but the bottom line is we must get this training in. I have no doubt some of you will be working Varsity games this season and we would be remiss in not ensuring you are prepared, particularly with the first scrimmage games starting middle of Feb, and tournaments immediately after that!
And it is built on the premise each of you will take the time on your own to study the rules and mechanics more in-depth on your own time.
When we resume in January, we will turn our focus to more field work and hands-on mechanics, to include plate/batting cage work, game situations and even scrimmages.
A few other notes...
Keep in mind our rules and mechanics fall under the purview of the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS), which can be markedly different, some even frustratingly so, from other rule sets, particularly the two big ones: NCAA and OBR (Official Baseball Rules), which is used in MiLB and MLB.
For example, in those two rule sets and in many youth sets, a balk is a delayed dead ball...so if a pitcher balks but still delivers the ball and the batter hits it out for a home run, its a home run and the balk is basically nullified. Not in NFHS...it is a dead ball, no matter what happens!
Only point that out as one example of many rule differences since Fed rules are a different beast altogether. And we simply can't have folks making a wrong call based on applying another rule set!
We'll discuss more during our sessions and did I already say it...I highly suggest you start studying them now.
If you know of anyone else interested in calling baseball, please let me know. As mentioned in numerous e-mails and at our meetings, we are in dire need of officials for this season, especially after picking up a couple more schools.
For those that weren't at the meetings, we are already looking at around 700 games supporting 40 schools on our schedule and Gary still has more schedules to load!
And folks are welcome to just show up...we can take care of the rest.
Now that the UDS info is out of the way, let me provide some welcome and introductory information...
1. I know some of you have already talked with other members and/or already have your own equipment. There are several current chapter members who will have additional equipment they can sell/loan, including myself, but you need to start considering getting your own equipment ASAP.
Additionally, the chapter can provide a limited fund no-interest loan to assist members in purchasing needed equipment.
Here is some info to assist you with equipment, and our goal is to ensure you have the proper equipment. Baseball does require a substantial up-front investment. As the saying goes, "You buy cheap, you get cheap."
Remember, you will be back there behind the plate while some high schooler throws a ball ranging anywhere from 70 - 90+ mph. And when that catcher sets up off the plate for an outside pitch, it is quite a lonely feeling when there is nothing between you and that pitcher except your protective gear.
Your safety equipment is one area where you DO NOT want to skimp!
The initial outlay for a good, quality chest protector, mask, shin guards, plate shoes and cup can be steep, but it is WELL WORTH IT...one, because it is your well-being you have to protect back there; and second, these aren't purchases you will be making often. I am still on the same mask and chest protector I bought 7 years ago.
We will discuss equipment tonight and I would recommend looking at getting at least the following before January:
A. A quality face mask or hockey-style mask (HSM). Wilson, All-Star, Diamond and Champro are all good.
And remember physics! A ball hitting you in the mask will transfer energy, so the heavier the mask, the more you'll feel it. Light is good. There are some titanium models, but pricey. The one I use is the Champro Pro-Plus magnesium mask. Paid over $150 for it when it first came out...you can find it now for right around $79-89, and there is a similar Wilson alloy mask that is just as light.
There are pros/cons to the standard mask versus a HSM and we will discuss that.
B. A baseball-rated chest protector, such as the Wilson Gold or Platinum. All-Star makes a good one, the System 7; however, it is tight in the neck if your neck is 17" or bigger. Another good choice is the Honig's Zero Gravity or Pro-Elite. I have both the Wilson Gold (modified with Team Wendy padding for lower profile) and Platinum.
C. Baseball-rated shin guards. Again, Wilson, Diamond, Force 3 or Champro are all good. The Force 3 guards are relatively new, but outstanding as being very light and offering a lot of protection. The Wilson Pro Platinum shin guards are also outstanding.
D. A good...no, make that a BEST quality cup and jock. Self-explanatory. Nutty Buddy is a good one, as is Shock Doctor.
E. Other items you will need:
- Pants (they make plate, base or combo)...the combo are compromises so that you can wear them both behind the plate and on the bases. Reason for plate and base pants are the plate pants are made with more material to give for your shin guards and squatting over. They are also reinforced in the knees and butt. If you can afford it, get one of each and get the darker-colored ones; do not get any heather-grey models.
*** Before committing to a purchase, please check with me to confirm proper color/shade.
- Shirts -- Standard TASO color is the black with white trim. However, majority of guys either wear the black OR the pro powder blue with black trim. I would get one of each for now...we may have extras. Remember to get it one size bigger so it will fit over your chest protector. If you can afford it, get one in your regular size for the bases and one a size up for the plate. There are other colors out there, but those are the only ones you need to worry about right now.
Do NOT buy the MLB-style shirts, in either the black or blue...none are authorized by TASO for wear during high school contests.
- Ball bags -- Some guys wear just one, some two...comes down to personal preference (I wear two...because I think it looks better and gives me more room for baseballs, indicator, brush, etc).
But you will need at least one in black...you can get at least one in navy blue as well if you like (though not required).
- Belt -- Recommend at least 1.5", preferred 1.75". Can be gloss or subdued...again, personal preference.
- Hats -- You must have a hat with the NEW TASO logo on it (embroidered). Thankfully, they are all black now, so you don't have to worry about getting some in black, some in blue. These will be offered at the state meeting as well as the regional clinic, or you can get them from some of the TASO-approved vendors (more on that later).
They make 3 different versions...a full-length bill (8-stitch), a medium or combo bill (6-stitch) and a short bill (4-stitch).
The 6-stitch or 4-stitch would be worn behind the plate, 8-stitch on the bases.
If you are tight on money, just get the 6-stitch.
Do NOT...repeat, do NOT get the little 3-stitch, beanie style hat unless you want somebody repeating Tom Hanks' line to you from "A League of Their Own" where he tells the umpire what he looks like with that hat on!
And yes, you will look like a "Richard" with that hat on...and YES, you will hear that comment!
- Plate brush -- Plastic or wood....doesn't matter.
- Indicator -- Umpire tip #1: Don't call it a clicker! They make all kinds in plastic, stainless steel or aluminum, but get one with Balls, Strikes, Outs and Innings.
- Line-up card holder/notepad and pencil. Self explanatory.
Now, where to find all that. About the only things you'll find locally at Academy and Dicks Sporting Goods are:
- Shirts (but only in navy blue or red)
- Indicator, card holder/notepad and plate brush.
We do have a local vendor who supplies officiating gear for a variety of sports, including baseball...his name is Rene Robles and I will contact him about attending our meetings with his gear.
Everything else will have to be ordered. However, the good news is some of the sites are offering really good deals right now.
Here are a few of them, all of which I've ordered from before and recommend. If I had to pick one, I'd go with Ump-Attire...they usually have the best prices and their customer-service beats all the others hands-down!!
Ump-Attire (usually offer free shipping on orders over $99): http://www.ump-attire.com/
Official Sports (Barry and Debby Steele are the owners and are good people...provide incredible customer service and are located in Dallas, which means items will ship and arrive in 2 days or less): http://www.officialsports.net/
Honig's (have an outlet/retail store in College Station): http://www.honigs.com/
Purchase Officials (sometimes they have killer prices or hard-to-find items): http://www.purchaseofficials.com/
Now, of the 4, the last 3 are TASO-approved vendors, meaning they will have the patches and most importantly, the hats with the new TASO logo already embroidered on there. These folks are always at the state meeting and usually the regional clinics. If not, you can order from them by calling.
I would recommend browsing the TASO website...here is the address:
If you don't have a TASO member number yet, please let your Registered representative or Charlie Jupe know. You will need this to log on to view your account with TASO.
Any questions about ANYTHING, please don't hesitate to contact me. You can reach me via this e-mail or my cell, 210-885-5128
Again, welcome to the Chapter and let me know if you have any issues/questions.
Courtesy of Joseph Cruz of www.GotLifeQuestions.com
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