Image isn’t everything but it counts, especially with umpires. Show up looking professional and you gain a bit of respect right off the bat. If you arrive looking sloppy or otherwise unprofessional, you lose credibility before the first pitch.
Earlier this week, at my son’s high school game, the field umpire was wearing sneakers -- dirty, white sneakers. I must have had ten fans ask me about it or comment. It was immediately noticeable and a number of his calls were deemed questionable by the spectators and coaches. Were they good calls or calls that were just presented in a bad light?
Before each game my shoes get wiped down -- polished when necessary. My pants always have sharp creases, my shirts are ironed and my cap is clean. Why? First, I want that advantage, the benefit of the doubt from coaches, players and fans. I want them to believe that when I arrive, I do so with the proper attitude. I also feel better about myself when I look good – who doesn’t? Even if you’re just going to work, dressing well makes a statement.
This particular umpire may have gotten a call at the last minute or simply forgot his shoes. Things like that happen. Unfortunately, that put him at a disadvantage before the firsat pitch.
I've gotten into umpiring after years of playing and coaching baseball. I officiate at the youth league level (9U-15U) and I can tell you that it's different than what I thought it would be. If you're new to umpiring, take a look around this blog, read up on officiating, maybe attend a camp. It's a great way to stay involved with youth sports!