On Sunday, visitors to Grovehill Community Centre in Hemel Hempstead and the surrounding buildings must have been wondering about very manly loud voices grunting and shouting strange things like “Safe”, “Time” and “Yes he did”. The reason behind it was that members of the Amateur Baseball Umpires Association of Great Britain (ABUA) held a special umpiring clinic at Herts Baseball Club. Darrin Muller, Petter Nordwall and Geoff Hare are three of the best umpires in the UK and the one-day course which they presented was an invaluable opportunity for those who will find themselves officiating games in the British baseball leagues.
The first half of the clinic took place at the Grovehill Community Centre and it covered theory, strategy and the fundamentals of umpiring. The attendees then moved down the road to Grovehill Ballpark for a practical workshop with a chance to put into practice what they learned earlier in the day including proper umpiring mechanics, field coverage and working a one-man and two-men umpiring system. Everyone who attended received the Major League Baseball Rulebook which will be in force during the 2009 British baseball season (subject to a few Bylaws which apply specifically to the UK and override the MLB Rules in areas such as pitching restrictions etc).
This was the first clinic of its kind to be held in Hertfordshire. It was attended not only by members of Herts Baseball Club but several other clubs from Southern England. This event will undoubtedly help teams which will be umpiring their own games in the coming years by improving their knowledge and ability to umpire a baseball game and also help them appreciate exactly how much goes into being an umpire. There will certainly be a great deal of respect shown to umpires in upcoming games by those who attended the clinic. Hopefully, many of them will consider joining the ABUA ranks in the future.
After the clinic, Herts Falcons Manager, Jason Greenberg said: “It is important that clubs in this country keep learning more about the game and its rules, offering umpiring instruction to their players and – equally importantly – finding opportunities to work with and befriend other clubs. It's a small community we're all a part of, so we should take advantage of that and really get to know our fellow baseball enthusiasts at all levels of play”. Greenberg thanked the ABUA representatives for being so generous with their time and expertise.