Umpire Pants Buying Guide

Jan 21st, 2022

The right umpire pants to wear are based partly on what your association or leagues ask you to wear and partly on personal preference. If there are no guidelines, you should always match the color of your crew, then cover your position and choose your style, fabric and fit.

ContentsColor | Plate, Base, or Combo | Pleated or Flat Front | Fabric | Waistbands | Care


Umpires generally wear grey pants. Charcoal grey has been preferred by baseball umpires. Heather grey has generally been reserved for softball umpires and some remaining high school associations.

Charcoal grey has the following benefits over Heather grey:

  • Hides dirt better
  • Holds color longer
  • More slimming
  • Better match to modern style umpire shirts and color

More groups, including NCAA Softball for 2022, are switching to charcoal grey as their official uniform pant.

Navy umpire pants are used by some softball associations as well.


Umpire pants can be found based on the umpire's position on the field.

Plate umpire pants are made wider throughout the leg to accommodate your shin guards. Plate umpire pants feature a saddle-seat stitched reinforcement in the buttocks to counter repeated strain to this area when working in and out of your plate stance.

Base umpire pants fit like traditional dress pants without the additional space for shin guards. These pants are to only be worn on the bases.

Combo umpire pants attempt to be the best of both worlds. They are cut to fit shin guards adequately, but less so than plate pants, and also include a saddle-seat reinforcement. The legs on combo pants are slimmer than plate pants, enough to be worn on bases but are not as straight-cut optimal as base pants.

Pleated or Flat front?

Baseball umpires have traditionally worn pleated pants while flat front pants have been worn by softball umpires. However, this is expected to change with more flat front color choices.

Pleats provide more room in the waist and hip area. Flat fronts, pants without pleats, have less room. Therefore, pleats are desired if you are a larger size frame and/or want more room - as you often need for squatting in and of your stance. If you are a smaller frame and can get by without the more space provided by the athletic cut pleats, flat fronts will be more slimming.


Poly spandex or polyester?

Poly Spandex pants (92% polyester / 8% spandex) are the newest high-performance pants for umpires. Providing a lightweight, quick-drying material, Poly Spandex is best for umpiring in warm weather. These pants are made in darker charcoal grey and lighter medium grey.


Polyester pants (100% polyester) are your most traditional umpire pants providing professional, wrinkle-resistant styling and strong woven durability at a value price.


Fitted or Expanding Waistband?

Finding your best waist fit will be crucial to keeping a professional appearance. Sagging or constantly pulling your pants up is not a professional look. If you know your waistband size and it stays the same throughout the year, fitted waistbands are for you.

However, if you don't know your exact waist size and/or your size is expected to change, wear pants with an expanding waistband that flexes up to 3 inches.


A Word on tailoring

All umpire pants come unhemmed. Before your assignments, have your umpire pants hemmed to the appropriate length based on position, plate or base.

More Details


While dry cleaning is not required, you will want to give your umpire pants the proper care they deserve. Wash them as infrequently as possible as repeated washing and drying can degrade your pants over time as much as wear can. Wash inside out in cold water and dry in low heat.

High performance materials like poly spandex are easily susceptible to damage or shrinking when exposed to a high concentration of heat such as the dryer. Hang Poly Spandex pants, or any umpire pants when drying to help your pants last longer, preserving color longer and fit.

Stay wrinkle free with our video Crew How-To: Pressing and Ironing Your Umpire & Referee Pants.

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Your turn

Comment below. Which umpire pants you prefer to wear?

About the Author

Picture of Ty Unthank

Marketing Specialist, HS & College Umpire Ty Unthank


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