As we have learned in previous chapters, referees are the officiators of the game. They ensure that all players and coaches are following the rules, and they make many crucial decisions that determine the outcome of pitches and plays.
To communicate their decisions, referees make calls. These calls involve yelling out certain words or phrases, accompanied with specific hand signals. We will learn about some of the calls referees make in this tutorial.
The Head Referee
The head referee is the final decision maker. He is responsible for all major decisions and calling pitches strikes or balls while standing in the kicker's box behind the kicker and catcher. Only the team captains can make an appeal to the head referee without the risk of being ejected from the game.
1st Base/3rd Base Referees
To start the game, the referee yells, Play! and points at the pitcher with his right hand. He also calls Play to start the game again after a dead ball, once the pitcher, catcher, and kicker are ready.
To signal that the pitch was a strike, the home plate referee makes a fist with his right hand and makes a single, quick pounding motion. Some referees also use their right hand to point to the side, also signaling a strike. If the strike was a called strike, meaning the kicker did not swing and the kickball went through the strike zone, the referee will yell, Strike. However, if it was a swinging strike, meaning the kicker swung at the pitch and missed, the referee usually will not verbalize.
To signal that a runner is out, the referee that is closest to the players will make the safe call. To do this, the referee spreads his arms out horizontally, with his palms facing the ground. If it was a close call, meaning it was hard for observers to tell for certain if the runner was out, the referee will also yell, Safe!.