Umpire Jackets Buying GuideJan 15th, 2020
Let's face it. Umpire jackets are meant to keep you warm. It can get cold in the early part of your season, at night and in most areas farther away from the equator.
There are more choices available in umpire jackets than ever before. No longer are jackets only available in one medium-weight style. Now they are also available for any climate from lightweight convertibles with zip-off sleeves to heavyweights with fleece lining.
Warm (For cool or changing weather)
A jacket that has zip-off sleeves just above your elbow is called a convertible jacket. It provides the best versatility in adapting to cool conditions or changing temperatures.
The Smitty Convertible is based on the style of the no-longer-available Majestic MLB CoolBase convertible. Well-constructed, some have complained the Smitty version has a slightly stiffer fabric when compared to the Majestic model. It does, but one benefit of the stiffer fabric is that it helps your collar to remain standing. This has a better look not to mention it keeps your neck somewhat warm.
In addition, Smitty also offers an older style Black Convertible Jacket with Horizontal White Piping that is fading in popularity.
Short sleeve jackets (without the zip-off sleeves) are growing in popularity. They have the crisp and neat look of a pullover in those games where the temperature and a long-sleeve pullover will leave you sweaty. They are available in multiple colors.
Warmer (For cold weather)
If you are looking for a traditional umpire jacket, the most popular ones are the Smitty Half-Zip Jackets. These have been around the longest, offer medium weight and are available in 4 color-trim combinations (2 offerings in black with white: 1 elastic bottom, 1 open-bottom that can be easily tucked into your pants).
Warmest (For coldest temperatures)
Consider the Smitty Fleece Lined Jacket your winter coat for umpiring, but without the bulk of a typical winter coat. This, too, was based on a Majestic model called the Thermabase Jacket (no longer available).
Which umpire jackets can you wear behind-the-plate and which can you wear on-the-bases?
Typically, if it has elastic around the bottom, most use it as a base jacket. This is mainly because it is more difficult to tuck the jacket in your pants. This doesn't mean you can't wear any jacket as a plate jacket. Indeed, all umpire jackets are sized to be worn over a chest protector should you choose to do so. Some D1 umpires often prefer convertible jackets with the sleeves zipped-off behind the plate.
Why Two Convertible Jackets in Your Bag
Seasoned umpires tell us they purchase two convertibles. In this way, they leave one with their sleeves on and the other with their sleeves off. By doing so, they simply wear the jacket with the desired arm length without having to unsecure and/or re-secure the arms.
More Cold Weather Related Guides
About the Author
President Jim Kirk
Jim is a leading expert, educator and author on umpire gear, safety & appearance. After playing baseball at Centre College, he worked as a high school umpire. He became involved in E-Commerce while working on an MBA in the early 2000s and bought Ump-Attire.com in 2006, He eventually led it to the leading umpire gear & attire retailer worldwide and a “Best Places to Work in Louisville” honor in 2020 & 2021. He maintains long-standing relationships with Minor League Baseball Umpire Development & Training Academy and the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO). He serves as an adviser to UMPS CARE Charities, the charity of MLB umpires, served as a 2-term board of director from 2012-2018, and was named their 2015 Ambassador Award recipient. A supporter since the inception of the Wounded Warrior Umpire Academy, he was named to their Board of Directors in 2020.