Northern Coast Officials
Gerry Davis
Umpire Attire
D1 Sports Apparel

Granting Batter's Time

Umpire’s should not be granting batter’s time just because they ask. That’s bold general statement with no guidelines.

When should the plate umpire grant a batter’s request for time? To answer that question there is one of three components plate umpire’s need to recognize before granting time:

  • Safety.
  • Lull in the action after a play.
  • Status of a potential pitch.

Let’s break each one of these components down.

SAFETY: A safety issue should cause the plate umpire to stop play just before the pitcher is about to start his motion to deliver the pitch. Issues such as, but not limited to:
Bugs or bees near the batter’s eyes;
Gust of wind causing dirt or dust in the batter’s, and probably the catcher’s and umpire’s eyes; or
An inappropriate comment by anyone causing everyone to lose focus.

The plate umpire should grant time, emphatically and immediately, and step out and away from behind the catcher to confirm, so that if a pitch is delivered, the pitch will not be called. This should avoid the batter or anyone getting hit by a thrown ball from the pitcher.

LULL IN THE ACTION AFTER A PLAY: Once a play or situation has ended and there a “lull” in the action while the ball is live and the pitcher has the ball on the dirt area or on the rubber getting signs. During this lull in the action the pitcher is “cold” with a low probability of another play occurring. During this lull the batter may need to:

  • “Groom” his batter’s box;
  • Get signs from his coach; or
  • Talk to his coach, aka offensive charged conference.

The plate umpire may grant time as these are natural occurrences in the game to grant time.

In the first two bullet points above: If the pitcher is respecting these the plate umpire should NOT have to hold his hand up to stop the pitcher. Holding the hand up means the ball is dead and nothing can happen maybe preventing a potential pick off of a runner not paying attention. However, the plate umpire should monitor the pitcher to make sure he doesn’t start action that could lead to pitching. This usually occurs at the lower levels of baseball.

In the third bullet point the plate umpire is required to call time as a charged conference will cause the ball to be dead. Don’t forget to record the offense charged conference on your line-up card.

STATUS OF A POTENTIAL PITCH: This is the “danger zone”. Plate umpires have too often granted the batter’s request for time when he should not have. Granting time has gotten the plate umpire yelled at from the opposing dugout about causing potential injury to the pitcher because he had to stop suddenly or causing injury to the batter because the pitcher threw at him for calling time.

When the pitch has received his sign from the catcher and is ready to pitch plate umpire’s need to recognize the pitcher is now “hot”. The situation is “hot” thus a pitch or pick off is about to occur. Batter in this situation is usually trying to “disrupt” the pitcher’s rhythm.

When should the plate umpire grant time or not? If it is NOT a “safety” issue, as mentioned above, the plate umpire should count to three. If, during this three count, the pitcher starts any action to begin his delivery to pitch or pick off a runner the plate umpire SHOULD NOT grant time to the batter. Even if the batter steps out of the box as he calls time. The plate umpire should get down to call the pitch a ball or strike accordingly. If, by chance, the pitcher stops, call time and reset the situation. A batter causing the pitcher to stop is NOT a balk!

Once the plate umpire reaches a count of three, and the pitcher still has not started any action to pitch, the plate umpire should grant time to the batter. This is called a “FREEZE”. In this case the pitcher is freezing the batter and runner(s) thus disrupting their rhythm. Grant time with the exposed hand and motion with opposite hand (hand nearest to the batter) to keep the batter in the box. Once everyone is ready again say and indicate “play”.

Written by Gary Frieders
30+ Years Umpiring Experience