PINE BLUFF, Ark. — Summer has begun, and along with summer, come sports such as baseball and softball. It also means that summer has not only brought back fun and games, but it has also brought along the heat.
For those summer games to happen, the umpire is a crucial member of the team.
Umpires are normally dressed in a lot of gear and they spend hours under the sun. During a typical game, they wear more than eight pounds of gear and when you factor in the dangerous heat, it can become uncomfortable.
Vincent Tate, athletic director for Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation said, “Summertime in Arkansas is hot.” but the heat is something he has gotten accustomed to.
When behind the plate, he is dressed head to toe in heavy protective gear.
“I have [on] a mask, I have a chest protector on, steel shoes for my feet and I have on shin guards,” Tate said.
Those safety measures are able to shield him from the impact of a ball, but they are not very effective in shielding him from the rays of the sun. Tate is on the diamond for more than 12 hours per game and that has created potentially dangerous situations.
“Yesterday, it said it felt like 106 degrees,” Tate remembered.
He also said that normally the umpires rotate their duties throughout the game.
“If we have eight games, [and] if it’s not hot, we may do four behind the plate and then we’ll do four in the field,” Tate said.
Simple things like staying hydrated throughout the week have helped him and his fellow umpires make sure that they are on top of their game.
A crucial part of beating the sun is making sure that they've taken a break in between games.
“We will normally take 20 minutes between games to just kind of refuel, rehydrate, [and] get off our feet for a while,” Tate said.
He added that those few steps have continually helped him avoid a medical emergency on the field.
“One of the biggest things with umpiring is that you’ve got to listen to your body,” Tate said.
During his career, he said he’s seen a lot of umpires suffer from heat exhaustion.
He recommended that umpires should be physically fit and that they are well acclimated to the extreme heat.