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Officials teach kids how to call games at FanFest

July 9, 2010 |  3:36 pm

Referees and umpires have been at the root of several controversies this summer.

From the robbing of Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga of a perfect game or the misjudgment of flops in the World Cup, referees and umpires -- and their calls -- have been at the forefront of sports lately.

The best remedy apparently for this: early education.

FanFest, a five-day event that travels with the All-Star game each year, brought in umpire supervisors with extensive work on the field and in the film room to teach children basic baseball rules.

Chris Jones, Randy Marsh and Rich Becker work as buffers between umpires and management. They also critique calls and give referrals for the playoffs.

They put that experience to use by teaching children the proper way to recognize and call a ball or strike, with everyone pumping their right fist in unison.

Another area of contention, the one that cost Galarraga a perfect game, was first base.

Everyone had a shot at calling a man out or safe, using the same fist motion but adding the hand wave for a player called safe. The junior umpires were told to listen to the ball hit the first baseman's glove and watch the foot to decide the call.

Strike zones, selling the call and confidence were all covered later in the session.

"You have to be confident in what you do," Jones said. "The dugout can tell when you're not comfortable and they'll be in your ear all game." 

There must have been a lot of uncomfortable referees and yapping players during this year's sporting events.

-- DeAntae Prince