Often an overlooked aspect of the Little League program, umpiring is one of the most important. The volunteer umpire is as much a part of Little League as the volunteer manager, coach or concession stand worker. 

There is no sound reason for paying umpires, or any other person whose services should be provided on a volunteer basis. Many districts and leagues have found successful ways to operate volunteer umpiring programs, helping to defray the costs that might normally be passed on to the parents. Some leagues provide new equipment or uniforms to umpires to use in performing their service to the league, then the umpire can retain the items after a certain period of time.

Little League also offers many training materials, clinics and seminars on umpire education, as well as the Little League Umpire Registry. The registry allows volunteer umpires to receive regular mailings from Headquarters on rule interpretations, updates, etc.

Who is responsible for the conduct of umpires? First and foremost, it is the umpire himself/herself. Each of us in Little League must take responsibility for our own actions. However, umpires are appointed by the local league president and approved by the local league board of directors. Only the local league board of directors has the authority to dismiss or suspend any local league umpire from regular season games.

A select group of volunteer umpires whose knowledge, experience and demeanor have received recognition at top levels of Tournament Play are invited each year to officiate at one of the World Series tournaments. In keeping with the volunteer aspect of the local league, travel expenses for World Series umpires are borne by the umpires themselves.

The District Administrator is responsible for nominating umpires (those who volunteer their time to local Little Leagues within the district) for upper level tournaments. Most umpires who reach the pinnacle of youth sports officiating (one of the World Series of Little League Baseball or Softball) have been volunteering their time to local Little Leagues for a decade or more.

Why be an Umpire


By Mark Bernstein
Western Regional Umpire-in-Chief

What does it really mean to volunteer as a Little League® umpire and why do you do it? What is the draw that causes you to invest both time and money into clinics, keep reading and studying mechanics and rules, and purchase equipment?

If you wanted to get involved, you could have easily volunteered to be a scorekeeper, rake the fields, hand out equipment, or work in the concession stand. All noble and necessary duties of course, but instead, you chose to give back to your community in a way that many adults applaud, but few would be comfortable enough doing themselves. You chose to be an umpire.

It isn’t about ego; it isn’t about reaching a Regional Tournament or World Series or someday becoming a Major League Umpire. It is about two of the opportunities our craft allows, which are the essence of the Little League program: The inclusion in the greatest club on the planet, and more importantly, positively affecting the lives of children.

There exists an eternal camaraderie amongst fellow volunteer Little League Umpires. It is a group willing to mentor, provide advice, protect, and collectively enjoy the role they have taken on. Being a volunteer Little League Umpire makes us all brothers and sisters without hesitation or reservation.

Little League prides itself on not being just a baseball or softball program, but is a true leadership program where adult volunteers are able to teach those life lessons to children that will allow them to become productive adults. What an incredible responsibility, but more importantly, what a great opportunity. Each time you work a game, you have the opportunity to look and carry yourself professionally; teach the points of fair play, enforce rules in an equitable manner and make the experience for those children the best, most fun and most positive it can be.

You are a role model, and the next time you are preparing for your game, keep in mind that you are making a difference.


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