In baseball, the umpire is the person charged with officiating the game, including beginning and ending the game, enforcing the rules of the game and the grounds, making judgment calls on plays, and meting out discipline. The term is often shortened to the colloquial form ump. They are also addressed as blue due to the color of the uniform some umpires wear.
Although games were often officiated by a sole umpire in the formative years of the sport, from the turn of the 20th century onward officiating has been commonly divided among several umpires, who form the umpiring crew. The "umpire-in-chief" or home plate umpire (the only indispensable umpiring position), who is situated directly behind the catcher, is given the duty of calling balls and strikes on pitches as well as making safe/out calls at home plate. The first, second and third base umpires make safe/out calls at their respective bases while the first and third base umpires also make fair/foul calls on balls hit down the first and third baselines. When employed, left field and right field umpires make fair/foul calls as well.
Rulings on catches of batted balls are usually made by the umpire closest to the play. Other calls are typically the responsibility of the home plate umpire. (In the case of fewer available umpires, as is common in youth and community leagues, all responsibilities are bestowed upon the home plate umpire.) Umpires are also responsible for ensuring that all present conduct themselves in a sportsmanlike manner, and that the game is played so that the focus is on playing, rather than on personal matters, revenge, or "bad blood". Each umpire has the authority to eject any person, save other umpires, from the premises as an enforcement mechanism.
Umpiring is a skill and a craft, an art and a science. It requires knowledge of the rules, sound judgment, athleticism, knowledge of mechanics and position, and game management skills. It is often said that an umpire has done his or her job well if no one has noticed the umpire at all. Sometimes, though, an unpopular or nonobvious call is the correct one, and the umpire making it becomes very noticed. There are two major umpiring schools in North America; they are the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring and the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School. Less than 10% of graduates from these schools are placed into the minor leagues, and less than 5% of those ever become a major league umpire. Many graduates of these academies work games in college, high school, and amateur baseball. Salary for an umpire might be complimentary food for volunteer Little League umpires, $35-$120 per game for varsity high school umpires, or up to more than $500,000 per year for the most skilled and experienced major league umpire.
Unlike referees in football, an umpire's judgment call is final, unless the umpire making the call chooses to ask his partner(s) for help and then decides to reverse it after the discussion. If an umpire seems to make an error in rule interpretation, his call in some leagues can be officially protested. If the umpire is persistent in his or her interpretation, the matter will be settled at a later time by a league official. Such protests are seldom upheld; indeed, in most cases of protest, the umpire's interpretation is found to be correct.
Umpires are eligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame for their careers, and eight umpires have been thus inducted:
Other noteworthy umpires have included: