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Most Misunderstood Rules of Baseball DVD
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A Message from the Director

Baseball is our National Pastime. As such, we all own it, play it and mold it to fit our needs in whatever space we first plop down our base props to form a make-shift baseball diamond. Early rules knowledge is often formed by bouts of “ah-ha”, “na-ah”. Whatever is decided one time may very well change the next. As a result, our rules knowledge may not be as strong as we would like.

The rules we learn: Many of us move on from sandlot ball to learn the game in a more organized setting. No more bouts of “ah-ha”, “na-ah” — our team managers have their own method of debating the rules. Some of us move on to high school ball (NFHS rules), American Legion ball (ALB rules), college ball (NCAA rules) or maybe even some level of pro ball. Each brand of organized baseball has it own set of rules and nuances. Some also play softball, which introduces yet additional variations of ball (USSSA, ASA, NSA, NFHS, NCAA and others) that influence our rules knowledge. Whatever your path, some mix of these rules formed your unique blend of what I refer to as the rules you grew up with.


When our children decide to play baseball, we as parents often want to help. When we get involved, we bring those rules we grew up with to the field with us and that can, at times cause some confusion. In recreational baseball the focus is on the Official Baseball Rules, (OBR). Knowing a specific set of rules has probably never been a priority; until now. Now, we are given the responsibility to teach the game, and its rules, to our children. So the first priority, when taking on any role in youth baseball, is setting aside those rules we grew up with and acquiring a uniform knowledge of the rules.

As you grow into the baseball program, sooner or later, someone is going to ask you to umpire. It may be prior to the season as the program pieces together its umpiring staff and schedule, an emergency fill-in call as a need arises during the season or perhaps at the field itself when no umpire shows up to call your child's game. Whenever it happens, accept the opportunity. Simply, do it for the kids — give the kids the best game possible. If you know the basics of baseball, you'll be fine.

I had a new umpire (after his first game) tell me, "I was very uncomfortable when I first went out there but after the first few batters I felt like I had been there all my life." That was probably a bit of an exaggeration but I believe that once you get past it the initial awkwardness and realize there's a game going on, the game takes over and it's nothin but baseball from there. It happens thousands of times each year; fathers gets behind the plate for the first time. Most enjoy the experience and say they would do it again. Many go on to make it a regular thing. At some point, the thought occurs, "I wish I had someone to coach me." That is why I do what I do.

When you face a new complex task, learning it often occurs in stages. The first step is learning the basics — realizing what you have to know and setting a solid foundation to build on. That is why I developed Umpire Survival Training. I have put together the things you absolutely have to know before you take the field. Whatever your role in recreation baseball, I am confident you will find information here to help you.

Mark Swiss
Central Maryland Umpires
Office of Training and Umpire Development

About Baseball
Knowing Baseball is not a destination, it is a journey — a life long journey. Some of baseball's best have told us so:

  •   I don't care how long you've been around, you'll never see it all.—Bob Lemon, Chicago White Sox manager, (HOF 1976)
  •   It's what you learn after you know it all that counts — Earl Weaver, Baltimore Orioles manager (HOF 1996).
  •   Anytime you think you have the game conquered, the game will turn around and punch you right in the nose.
                                                                                               Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia Phillies third baseman, (HOF 1995)

You never know what the game may unleash. Baseball cannot be predicted, it is to be experienced. The game has no time limit yet can be determined by the difference of a split second. It ain't over, 'til it's over, yet it could be that it's deja vu all over again (Yogi Berra, Hall of Fame [1972] ). Baseball plays out much like life.

About Training
For three decades, I've been helping individuals make the transition to recreational baseball. It is impossible to train and prepare for all of the eventualities of baseball — that is the beauty of it— but I can prepare you for what is most frequently encountered on the recreational ball diamond. Beyond that, baseball is a lifelong learning experience. I help you establish a stable foundation on which to build your baseball knowledge and attempt to provide a quantum leap into understanding the game.

Rules Training: We make the transition from the rules you grew up with to the Official Baseball Rules, the standard for recreational baseball. It is the first phase of the Umpire Survival Training but is also popular with managers and coaches. For umpires, it contains the rules you are expected to know - without fail. It is recommended for anyone involved in recreational baseball. On a league or program level, it is the first step to establishing a program wide rules standard.

Umpire Training: First and foremost we talk about safety (both personal & field safety). We cover the art of officiating and focus on the challenges of umpiring recreational baseball. That includes the philosophy of officiating, proper positioning & mechanics of umpiring and a host of other things that beginning umpires usually don’t think about until after they have enough experience to wish they had known about these things sooner.

Other Offerings: Check back from time to time to check other offerings. The newest offering is a DVD of The Most Misunderstood Rules of Baseball. There is more information below.

Over the years, as I closed my live workshops, I have asked attendees (both new and seasoned managers, coaches and umpires) to complete a brief anonymous critique form with their honest feedback. My primary satisfaction gauge is how the attendees (who have just invested 12 hours of their life), response to the following two questions, (on a scale of 1 [poor] to 10 [best-it-could-be]):

1. How much did your baseball knowledge benefit from the workshop?

2. How strongly would you recommend the workshop to a baseball friend?

Respectively, the feedback averages 9.2 & 9.8
It doesn't get any better than that.

New Products
Until recently, all training was conducted in live workshops. I held a series of training sessions at various baseball programs to cover the complete Umpire Survival Training workshop. It required a commitment of four evenings, about 3 hours each. The first two sessions covered the rules and was open to anyone who wanted to attend (many found it helpful to know what the umpires know [or are supposed to know] ). The last two sessions focused or the umpiring aspects and included some field (or gym) time.

The demand for workshops is heaviest just before the start of the season — time and distance become rare commodities. Sometimes, several baseball programs would share a workshop. As requests came in for workshops beyond my physical reach I realized I could not reach everyone. Several years ago we captured a live Rules Workshop on DVD so remote viewers could share the material. While the DVD helped many people, the live workshop version did not present the material as well as I would have liked. We experimented with ways to develop a compact and concise IN STUDIO version for DVD viewing.

A new offering, a DVD of the Most Misunderstood Rules of Baseball, is just released for the Holidays, 2010, provide a sneak preview of the in studio presentation. Additional enhancements are planned with display of graphic information.

Take a peek a section of the Infield Fly Rule as it was
presented on the Most Misunderstood Rules of Baseball DVD

The Infield Fly Rule - Part 2

The above clips serve as an example of the in-studio techniques that will be used in the new workshop DVD's.

The new DVD workshops are in production with a target release date of early 2011.
(Please keep in mind, the production crew balances this effort with our full time occupations.)
Check back later to follow the progress.

The following Rules DVD's are available for purchase.
More are planned.

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 The Most Misunderstood Rules of Baseball

Released for Christmas
Introductory Offer 25% OFF - (now only $18.95)
Click Here

Click Here
The Umpire Survival Training - Baseball Rules Workshop - 2 DVD set
The version filmed at a live workshop - NOW ON CLEARANCE
60% OFF -
(now only $14.95)
For more information
Click Here


© copyright 2010, Mark Swiss / Central Maryland Umpires
Office of Training and Umpire Development.
All rights reserved.