restricted access Screamers, Whiners, and Drive-Bys: How Umpires View Baseball Coaches’ Attempts to Influence Their Calls

Baseball managers and umpires don’t always see eye-to-eye. Their on-field confrontations long have been part of the game—and the outcome of those contests. But those confrontations have received scant attention by researchers who focus on the dynamics of the game. This study serves as the sequel to our previous work that applied management and leadership theories in exploring the strategies baseball coaches use to contest an umpire’s decision. We used leadership scholar John E. Barbuto’s concept of influence tactics and the types of social power discussed by sociologists John R. French and Bertram Raven. The use of influence tactics and social power are standard in the workplace between managers and subordinates, managers and their peers, and managers and their supervisors. This study examines the success of those influence tactics—but from the umpire’s perspective. We interviewed 12 umpires who call high school and collegiate games and categorized their findings into four themes: (1) when to approach umpires about a call; (2) how to approach them; (3) how umpires’ age and experience affect their reactions to coaches; and (4) how to show umpires respect. This study, in investigating the interactions of baseball managers and umpires, reinforces congruence theory—that baseball imitates the workplace.