When and why did the HPU change his positioning behind the cather on balls and strikes to the inside of the plate (depending on right handed or left handed batters)? I have seen numerous examples of them flat out missing the outside corners. The old style was directly over the cathers head and although they didn't have a good sense of lower part of zone, they did, more consistantly cover the corners. Do you agree with the "New" positioning or would you rather go back to the over the head position. Comments are welcomed. TM
I am old enough to remember when MLB had two separate umpire associations: one for the American League and one for the National League.
The AL umps used the "raft" chest protector, and it was usual to stand right over the catcher's head. Also consider that the players were "grown up", and thus judging the knees was easier than in youth sports. The NL umps used the interior chest protector, and their techniques involved getting into the slot. It was always easy to judge the height of the zone. (Probably confused a lot of pitchers during the World Series too!)
I would argue a little bit about not being able to see the outside corners from the slot position. As tall as I am, I have to take a "softball-like" stance and then drop vertically into the slot. I am getting a great view now of the zone, especially the low outside ones that I guessed or flat out missed before. It's also easier to "open the gate" on a PB or WP.
A few years ago, I was doing a SB tourney, and one of the umps only used a mask and stood right behind F2. When the kids used to do the lob style pitch, that was easy to do and less painful on the shins; but when they started to learn how to do the pinwheel pitch, they could smoke in a throw about as fast as a LL baseball pitcher. You needed to see it all--especially the rise ball--, and the pain of a foul or WP on body necessitated full regalia.
So I think the difference was the raft vs the interior chest protector.
I agree with Mike's post. The raft did give you a good look at the corners but no look at the bottom. In the AL the strike zone had a tendency to to be higher than the NL. Using the slot gives you a look at the entire strikezone. If you see guys missing the outside consistantly it usually is because they are too low and can't see the outside corner or they are tunneling. The inside protector and working the slot is the better solution.
Michael S. Taylor
In box, you can't see the bottom of the zone - F2 is in the way. In slot, you can see the entire zone, though picking up the outside edge can be difficult.
in a camp I attended in November, we had a malor league ump and 3 minor league umps. I asked this same question. Eddie Hiccocks(I hope thats the right spelling) told me to always stay on the inside corner. The main reason was for safety. He said on the inside corner most foul tips will zip over your shoulder as opposed to hitting you in the face if you were more centered over the plate. Of course we have all been hit with fouls even with correct positioning but I know that i have heard many more balls wizz past my head and not hitting me.