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Ask the Umpire
By Ralph Nelson
MLB VP Umpiring

Throughout the season, Major League Baseball umpires will be fielding your questions on Have a question? Send it in.

On a dropped third strike with bases loaded and two outs, can the catcher just tag home plate for the final out, or does the out have to be recorded at first base? I would love to know the answer, but I could not find it in the rule book.
-- A. Alvarez

Yes, all the catcher needs to do is tag home plate. Rule 6.09(b) states that the batter becomes a runner when a third strike is not caught with first base unoccupied or with first base occupied with two out. A force at any base results when the batter becomes a runner with the bases loaded.

I coach youth baseball in Alabama. The age group I coach is nine and 10 year olds. I have a question about rules for pitchers. The problem I have is my pitchers like to wear their batting glove under their glove for extra padding when they field the ball. I don't have a problem with it, but other people do. They say according to Major League rules it is illegal, so my pitchers are not allowed to wear them. I can't find a rule against it. Your help would be greatly appreciated.
-- S. Bryson

While not specifically referred to in the Official Rules, MLB regulations prohibit a pitcher from wearing a golf glove under his pitching glove. To do so could be distracting to the batter as well as a violation of the spirit of Rule 1.15(a).

Can you tell me what was called when Randy Johnson hit the dove with the ball (i.e. ball, dead ball, no pitch, or foul)?
-- L. Crowder

That bizarre play is not covered in the Official Rules. When a situation is not covered, Rule 9.01(c) comes into play. That rule gives the umpire authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in the Rules. In such instances the umpire is instructed to use "common sense and fair play." In this game, the umpires called it no pitch, as this was the fairest thing to do.

As a side-note, MLB Regulations do cover a batted or thrown ball (but not a pitched ball) touching an animal: "If a batted or thrown ball strikes a bird or other animal on the playing field, consider the ball alive and in play, the same as if it had not touched the bird or animal."

I am concerned with the recent change in the color scheme of the umpire uniforms. I understand that it may be attempt to stay ahead of the fashion curve, but this is baseball, the Great American Pastime. For as long as I can remember umpires have been dressed in blue, which led to umpires being referred to as "blue." I understand individual teams changing their uniforms in an attempt to generate higher merchandise sales, but no one is interested in purchasing umpire merchandise. Over time the uniforms have changed and that's fine; all I ask is that the color remain constant. With the recent controversy in the umpire union, I just hope these alteration in the umpire color scheme are not an attempt to distance themselves from this controversy. This concerns the history of Baseball and not the history of the umpire's union.
-- J. Carlson

Umpire uniforms have undergone many changes over the years. While perhaps not as dynamic as players' uniforms, the colors have been modified several times. Maroon jackets, black pants, navy pants, royal blue pants, black shirts, navy long-sleeved shirts, navy short-sleeved shirts, white shirts (with and without black ties), powder-blue long sleeved shirts with ties -- these are all different styles from years gone by. The original umpires wore top hats and tailed coats! Professional umpires in the Minor Leagues have worn varied color combinations, as well -- including orange and green; red, white and blue; and Hawaiian shirts.

I was wondering if the black jackets or hats the current umpires wear are available to the general public. Thanks.
-- J. Galloway

MLB umpire uniforms are available through Honig's Whistle Stop in Ann Arbor, Mich. See