Advanced Mechanics

Plays at 3B From Foul Territory

Although a foreign concept to those educated using Baseball Canada’s 3-Umpire mechanics, umpires taking calls at 3B from foul territory, when possible, is the positioning taught and expected at the professional level.

Taking the call from foul territory allows the umpire to keep the ball, fielder, and runner in front of them at all times, while adjusting to an optimal spot based on whether the play will occur on the front or back side of 3B. In contrast, when coming into the cutout, if the play occurs at the back of 3B, the fielder may come between the umpire and the tag, while if the play happens at the front of 3B, the runner will likely be between the umpire and the tag.

We must stress though, in the 3-Umpire system, this is only an option when another umpire is covering home plate. Those situations are as follows:
– any play at 3B where U3 has started behind 3B (U3’s call)
– R1 only, play on R1 or the BR at 3B, IF U1 did not go out (PU’s call)
– R1 and R2 tagging, play on R2 at 3B, IF U1 did not go out (PU’s call)

Any time U1 goes out, there is obviously no umpire available to cover the plate and therefore PU must come into fair territory on a rotation to make the call, in order to be able to get back to the plate should the play break down.

When rotating, PU should bust down to 3B and take an initial position directly behind 3B in foul territory, reading the play from there. It is critical that any umpire position themselves in foul territory in ample time for a potential play in order to move the third base coach back to provide the umpire enough room to maneuver so as to obtain the optimal sight line. This concept is demonstrated in the following video:

When taking the play from foul territory, the ideal position is one in which the tag is coming “toward” the umpire, while also being able to see the front edge of third base, in order to determine when the runner establishes contact with the base. Depending on the nature of the play, umpires may find more or less adjustment necessary in order to get the ideal look.

Two more examples are below:

The video clip shows two plays, one by PU on a rotation on a play at the back of 3B; the other by U3 (admittedly in a 4-Umpire, but the concept remains the same) on a play at the front of 3B. In both instances, the umpire read the play well and was positioned properly for the call.

Infield Umpire Going Out from Middle

We are going to preface this section by indicating that this is a very advanced mechanic that should only be utilized by a crew who is not only skilled, but also very comfortable and familiar with one another.

Both Baseball Canada and professional mechanics allow the infield umpire to leave the infield on any trouble ball hit into his coverage area. Baseball Canada stipulates this may only be done by U3 and only when there are 2 outs. Professional mechanics allow either U1 or U3, depending on who is in the infield, to go out from inside whenever they deem necessary.

If a crew is going to use this mechanic, they should only go out on a ball that either could lead to a close HR / no HR call, or a difficult catch / no catch call. If the ball will lead to a routine play, the umpire is to stay within the infield.

How It Works

Upon reading trouble, the infield umpire will communicate at once “I’m going out!” The other base umpire will immediately abort whatever they are doing, typically lining up a tag, and immediately bust into the working area, picking up any tags that would normally be the responsibility of the umpire who has just left the infield. With R2 and R3 where U1 goes out, PU must be aware and subsequently pick up R3’s tag left vacant by U3 having to bust in. If a situation where PU is moving to cover 3B (R1 only; R1 and R2), PU must recognize that they are now also responsible for a subsequent play at home, and react accordingly. If it is U1 who must bust in, do not pivot to watch the B-R’s touch of first, as this is a time to employ the “all eyes on the ball” philosophy.

In the video, with R1 and R2 and less than 2 out, we see U3 immediately turn to go out. PU, who is covering 3B in the event of R2 tagging and advancing, continues on his way, but is now also responsible to cover home. U1, as you see on the replay, aborts his original action of lining up R1’s tag and busts into the working area.

As we said, this is an extremely advanced mechanic and should only be used when a crew is very comfortable with one another. The crew in the video did an excellent job making this advanced situation look extremely easy.


The concept of rimming is a relatively simple principle: on an obvious extra base hit to LF only, with U1 starting on the line and U3 starting in the infield, U3 will immediately release to foul territory at 3B and U1 will take the B-R into 2B on the outside (hence, “rimming”) so both umpires may be optimally positioned for a potential play at 2B or 3B. The key here, of course, is obvious extra base hit, as taking the runner into 2B on the outside essentially eliminates U1’s ability to be in position for a play on the B-R back into 1B.

A crew may only rim under certain circumstances. They are as follows:
– R2 only, 2 out
– R1 and R2
– R1 and R3 (only if the crew has agreed to “slide” in this situation)
– R2 and R3, 2 out
– Bases Loaded
– R3 only (U3 will start to cover 2nd, when U1 communicates with U3 that he is rimming, U3 will move back to the foul side of 3rd.)