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Rules

The league rules are intended to promote fair play and to ensure the safety of our players and volunteers.

Local Rules

Basic Rules

Little League International Rules

Official Little League Rule Book App (iPhone)
Official Little League Rule Book App (Android)

2012 Tournament Rules

Baseball Rule Myths

1. The hands are considered part of the bat.

HANDS RULE MYTH
The hands are part of a person's body. If a pitch hits the batter's hands the ball is dead; if he swung at the pitch, a strike is called (NOT a foul). If he was avoiding the pitch, he is awarded first base.

Rules: 2.00 PERSON, TOUCH, STRIKE (e) and 6.05(f)

2. The batter-runner must turn to his right after over-running first base.

RIGHT TURN RULE MYTH
The batter-runner may turn left or right, provided that if he turns left he does not make an attempt to advance. An attempt is a judgment made by the umpire. The requirement is that the runner must immediately return to first after overrunning or oversliding it.

Rule: 7.08(c and j)

3. If the batter breaks his wrists when swinging, it's a strike

BREAKING WRISTS RULE MYTH
A strike is a judgment by the umpire as to whether the batter attempted to strike the ball. Breaking the wrists, or the barrel of the bat crossing the plate are simply guides to making the judgment of an attempt, these are not rules.

Rule: 2.00 STRIKE

4. If a batted ball hits the plate first it's a foul ball.

HIT PLATE RULE MYTH
The plate is in fair territory. There is nothing special about it. If a batted ball hits it, it is treated like any other batted ball.

5. The batter cannot be called out for interference if he is in the batter's box.

BATTER BOX INTERFERENCE RULE MYTH
The batter's box is not a safety zone. A batter could be called out for interference if the umpire judges that interference could or should have been avoided.
The batter is protected while in the box for a short period of time. After he has had time to react to the play he could be called for interference if he does not move out of the box and interferes with a play.

Many people believe the batter's box is a safety zone for the batter. It is not. The batter MAY be called out for interference although he is within the box. The key words, impede, hinder, confuse or obstruct apply to this situation.

An umpire must use good judgment. The batter cannot be expected to disappear. If he has a chance to avoid interference after he has had time to react to the situation and does not, he is guilty. If he just swung at a pitch, or had to duck a pitch and is off-balance, he can't reasonably be expected to then immediately avoid a play at the plate. However, after some time passes, if a play develops at the plate, the batter must get out of the box and avoid interference. The batter should always be called out when he makes contact and is outside the box.

Rules: 2.00 INTERFERENCE, 6.06(c)

6. The ball is dead on a foul-tip.

FOUL-TIP RULE MYTH
There is nothing foul about a foul-tip. If the ball nicks the bat and goes sharp and direct to the catcher's hand or glove and is caught, this is a foul-tip by definition. A foul-tip is a strike and the ball is alive. It is the same as a swing-and-miss. If the ball is not caught, it is a foul ball. If the nicked pitch first hits the catcher somewhere other than the hand or glove, it is not a foul-tip, it is a foul ball.

Rules: 2.00 FOUL-TIP, STRIKE

7. The batter may not switch batter's boxes after two strikes.

SWITCH BOX RULE MYTH
The batter can switch boxes at any time, provided he does not do it after the pitcher is ready to pitch.

Rule: 6.06(b)

8. The batter who batted out of order is the person declared out.

OUT OF ORDER RULE MYTH
The PROPER batter is the one called out. Any hit or advance made by the batter or runners due to the hit, walk, error or other reason is nullified. The next batter is the one who follows the proper batter who was called out.

Rule: 6.07(b, 1)

9. The batter may not overrun first base when he gets a base-on-balls.

OVERRUN FIRST BASE RULE MYTH
Rule 7.08(c and j) simply state that a batter-runner must immediately return after overrunning first base. It doesn't state any exceptions as to how the player became a runner. It could be a hit, walk, error or dropped third strike. In Little League the runner may overrun. In FED rules he may not and in Professional baseball, he may not. In other programs that use the OBR he may if that is how the program rules it. To overrun means that the runners momentum carried him straight beyond the base after touching it. It does not mean to turn and attempt to advance. Nor does it mean that he stepped over it or stopped on it and then got off of it.

10. The batter is out if he starts for the dugout before going to first after a dropped third strike.

DROPPED THIRD STRIKE RULE MYTH
The batter may attempt first base anytime prior to entering the dugout or a dead ball area. The batter becomes a runner when the third strike is not caught. Therefore, if there are 2 outs and there is a runner at first, first and second, or bases loaded, the batter creates a force by becoming a runner. These runners are all forced to advance and an out may be obtained by making a play on any one of them. If the bases are loaded the catcher may step on home or throw to third, second or first.

Rule: 6.05(c), 6.09(b) Casebook interpretation

11. If the batter does not pull the bat out of the strike zone while in the bunting position, it's an automatic strike.

BUNTING STRIKE RULE MYTH
A strike is an attempt to hit the ball. Simply holding the bat over the plate is not an attempt. This is umpire judgment.

Rule 2.00 STRIKE

Rule 2.00 BUNT is a batted ball not swung at, but INTENTIONALLY met with the bat.
The key words are "intentionally met" If no attempt is made to make contact with a ball outside the strike zone, it should be called a ball. An effort must be made to intentionally meet the ball with the bat.

12. The batter is out if a bunted ball hits the ground and bounces back up and hits the bat while the batter is holding the bat.

The rule says the BAT cannot hit the ball a second time. When the BALL hits the bat, it is not an out. Also, when the batter is still in the box when this happens, it's treated as simply a foul ball. If the batter is out of the box and the bat is over fair territory when the second hit occurs, the batter would be out.

Rules: 6.05(h) and 7.09(b)

13. The batter is out if his foot touches the plate.

FOOT TOUCHES PLATE RULE MYTH
To be out, the batter's foot must be ENTIRELY outside the box when he contacts the pitch and the ball goes fair or foul. He is not out if he does not contact the pitch. There is no statement about touching the plate. The toe could be on the plate and the heel could be touching the line of the box, which means the foot is not entirely outside the box.

Rule: 6.06(a)

14. The batter-runner is always out if he runs outside the running lane after a bunted ball.

RUNNING LANE RULE MYTH
The runner must be out of the lane AND cause interference. He is not out simply for being outside the lane. He could be called for interference even while in the lane. This is a judgment call. The runner may step out of the lane a step or two before the base if he moves from within the lane to out of it. If he is out of the lane the whole distance to the base and is hit with a throw, he should be out.

Rules: 2.00 INTERFERENCE, 6.05(k), 7.09(k)

15. A runner is out if he slaps hands or high-fives other players, after a homerun is hit over the fence.

HIGH FIVE RULE MYTH
The ball is dead on a homerun over the fence. You can't be put out while the ball is dead except when you pass another runner.

Rules: 5.02, 7.05(a)

16. Tie goes to the runner.

THE TIE RULE MYTH
There is no such thing in the world of umpiring. The runner is either out or safe. The umpire must judge out or safe. It is impossible to judge a tie.

17. The runner gets the base he's going to, plus one on a ball thrown out-of-play.

OUT-OF-PLAY BALL RULE MYTH
When a fielder other than the pitcher throws the ball into dead ball area, the award is 2 bases. The award is from where the runners were at the time of the pitch if it is the first play by an infielder before all runners have advanced or from where each runner was physically positioned at the time the ball left the throwers hand on all other plays.

Rule: 7.05(g)

18. Anytime a coach touches a runner, the runner is out.

COACH TOUCH RULE MYTH
Rule 7.09(I) says the runner is out if the coach PHYSICALLY ASSISTS the runner. Hand slaps, back pats or simple touches are not physical assists.

19. Runners may never run the bases in reverse order.

REVERSE BASERUNNING RULE MYTH
In order to correct a base running mistake, the runner MUST retrace his steps and retouch the bases in reverse order. The only time a runner is out for running in reverse, is when he is making a travesty of the game or tries to confuse the defense.

Rules: 7.08(I), 7.10(b)
.
20. The runner must always slide when the play is close.

MUST SLIDE RULE MYTH
There is no "must slide" rule. When the fielder has the ball in his possession, the runner has two choices; slide OR attempt to get around the fielder. He may NOT deliberately or maliciously contact the fielder, but he is NOT required to slide. If the fielder does not have possession but, is in the act of fielding, and contact is made, it is a no-call unless the contact was intentional and malicious.

Rule: 7.08(a, 3) this rule does not apply to professionals.

21. The runner is always safe when hit by a batted ball while touching a base.

HIT BY BALL ON BASE RULE MYTH
The bases are in fair territory. A runner is out when hit by a fair batted ball while touching a base, except when hit by an infield-fly or after the ball has passed a fielder and no other fielder had a play on the ball. If the runner is touching first or third, he is not out unless the ball touches him over fair territory. If one foot is on the base and the other is in foul ground and he is hit on the foul ground foot, he is not out. It is a foul ball. (If the ball has not passed beyond first or third.)

Rules: 5.09(f), 7.08(f)

22. A runner may not steal on a foul-tip.

NO STEAL ON FOUL-TIP RULE MYTH
There is nothing foul about a foul-tip. If the ball nicks the bat and goes to the catcher's glove and is caught, this is a foul-tip by definition. A foul-tip is a strike and the ball is alive. It is the same as a swing-and-miss. If the ball is not caught, it is a foul ball.

Rules: 2.00 FOUL-TIP, STRIKE

23. It is a force out when a runner is called out for not tagging up on a fly ball.

FLY BALL FORCE OUT RULE MYTH
A force play is when a runner is forced to advance because the batter became a runner. When the batter is out on a caught fly, all forces are removed. An out on an a failure to tag-up, is NOT a force out. Any runs that cross the plate before this out will count.

Rules: 2.00 FORCE PLAY, 4.09

24. An appeal on a runner who missed a base cannot be a force out.

MISSED BASE APPEAL RULE MYTH
A runner must touch all the bases. If the runner misses a base to which he was forced because the batter became a runner and is put out before touching that base, the out is still a force play. If this is the third out, no runs may score. The base can be touched or the runner can be touched, either way it's a force out.

Rules: 2.00 FORCE PLAY, TAG, 7.08(e), 7.10(b)

25. A runner is out if he runs out of the baseline to avoid a fielder who is fielding a batted ball.

OUT OF THE BASELINE RULE MYTH
The runner MUST avoid a fielder attempting to field a BATTED ball. A runner is out for running out of the baseline, only when attempting to avoid a tag.

Rules: 7.08(a), 7.09(L)

26. Runners may not advance when an infield fly is called.

NO ADVANCE ON INFIELD FLY RULE MYTH
An Infield-fly is no different than any other fly ball in regard to the runners. The only difference is that they are never forced to advance because the batter is out whether the ball is caught or not.

Rules: 2.00 INFIELD-FLY, 6.05(e), 7.10(a)

27. No run can score when a runner is called out for the third out for not tagging up.

NO RUN ON THIRD OUT RULE MYTH
Yes it can. This is not a force play. A force play is when a runner is forced to advance because the batter became a runner. When the batter is out on a caught fly, all forces are removed. An out on an a failure to tag-up, is NOT a force out. Any runs that cross the plate before this out will count.

Rules: 2.00 FORCE PLAY, 4.09, 7.10(a)

28. A pitch that bounces to the plate cannot be hit.

NO HIT ON BOUNCED PITCH RULE MYTH
A pitch is a ball delivered to the batter by the pitcher. It doesn't matter how it gets to the batter. The batter may hit any pitch that is thrown. A pitch that bounces before reaching the plate may never be a called strike or a legally caught third strike.

Rule: 2.00 PITCH. (If the ball does not cross the foul line, it is not a pitch.)

29. The batter does not get first base if hit by a pitch after it bounces.

NO FIRST BASE ON BOUNCED PITCH RULE MYTH
A pitch is a ball delivered to the batter by the pitcher. It doesn't matter how it gets to the batter. If the batter is hit by a pitch while attempting to avoid it, he is awarded first base.

Rules: 2.00 PITCH, 6.08(b).

30. If a fielder holds a fly ball for 2 seconds it's a catch.

2 SECOND CATCH RULE MYTH
A catch is legal when the umpire judges that the fielder has COMPLETE control of the ball. The release of the ball must be voluntary and intentional.

Rule: 2.00 CATCH

31. You must tag the base with your foot on a force out or appeal.

FOOT TAG RULE MYTH
You can tag a base with ANY part of the body.

Rules: 2.00 FORCE PLAY, PERSON, TAG, 7.08(e)

32. The ball is always immediately dead on a balk.

DEAD BALL ON BALK RULE MYTH
In Federation rules it is, not in any others. If a throw or pitch is made after the balk call, the ball is delayed dead. At the end of the play the balk may be enforced or not depending on what happened. On a throw; if ALL runners advance on the play, the balk is ignored. If not, the balk award is enforced from the time of pitch. On a pitch; if ALL runners INCLUDING the batter, advance on the play, the balk is ignored. Otherwise, it is no-pitch and the balk award is made from the time of the pitch.

Rule: 8.05 PENALTY

33. If a player's feet are in fair territory when the ball is touched, it is a fair ball.

FAIR FEET, FAIR BALL RULE MYTH
The position of the player's feet or any other part of the body is irrelevant. A ball is judged fair or foul based on the relationship between the ball and the ground at the time the ball is touched by the fielder.

Rule: 2.00 FAIR, FOUL

34. The ball must always be returned to the pitcher before an appeal can be made.

APPEAL RULE MYTH
An appeal may be made anytime the ball is alive. The only time the ball must go to the pitcher, is when time is out. The ball cannot be made live until the pitcher has the ball while on the rubber and the umpire says "Play." If time is not out, the appeal can be made immediately.

Rule: 2.00 APPEAL, 5.11, 7.10

35. With no runners on base, it is a ball if the pitcher starts his windup and then stops.

MUST SET TO PICK RULE MYTH
The pitcher is required to come to a complete stop in the Set position before delivering the pitch, not before making a throw.

Rule: 8.05(m)

36. The pitcher must come to a set position before a pick-off throw.

MUST SET TO PICK RULE MYTH
The pitcher is required to come to a complete stop in the Set position before delivering the pitch, not before making a throw.

Rule: 8.05(m)

37. The pitcher must step off the rubber before a pick-off throw.

MUST STEP OFF RUBBER TO PICK RULE MYTH
If the pitcher steps off the rubber he is no longer the pitcher, he is a fielder. He can throw to a base from the rubber, provided he does not break any of the rules under rule 8.05

38. If a fielder catches a fly ball and then falls over the fence it is a homerun.

FIELDER OVER THE FENCE HOMERUN RULE MYTH
As long as the fielder is not touching the ground in dead ball territory when he catches the ball, it is a legal catch if he holds onto the ball and meets the definition of a catch. If the catch is not the third out and the fielder falls down in dead ball territory after catching the ball, all runners are awarded one base. If the fielder remains on his feet in dead ball territory after the catch, the ball is alive and he may make a play. (Except FED in which case the ball is dead and 1 base is awarded.)

Rules: 2.00 CATCH, 5.10(f), 6.05(a), 7.04(c)

39. The ball is dead anytime an umpire is hit by the ball.

DEAD BALL WHEN UMPIRE IS HIT RULE MYTH
If an umpire is hit by a batted ball before it passes a fielder, the ball is dead. On any other batted or thrown ball, the ball is alive when the umpire is hit with the ball. Umpire interference also occurs when the plate umpire interferes with the catcher's attempt to prevent a stolen base.

Rules: 2.00 INTERFERENCE, 5.09(b), 5.09(f)

40. The home plate umpire can overrule the other umps at anytime.

HOME PLATE UMPIRE RULE MYTH
The umpire who made a call or ruling may ask for help if he wishes. No umpire may overrule another umpire's call.

Rules: 9.02(b, c)

41. Tie goes to the runner.  Wrong  There is no such thing as a tie.

42. Batter swings at the bat but is hit by the pitch.  If the batter is hit on the hands, this is a strike.  Not a dead ball.  No base is awarded.

43. Batter hits the ball and the ball strikes the batter while the batter is still in the batters box.  This is called a foul ball.

44. Batter hits the ball and the ball strikes the Home plate then goes into the playing field.  This is a fair ball.  Home Plate is considered fair territory.

45. Foul tips not caught by the catcher are considered Foul Ball.

46. Are runners required to slide. No but I suggest that they do for 2 reasons.1. safety concern2. The umpire looks at the call as a more favorable call for the runner.

47. Ball is pitched hits the ground in front of the batter and then strikes the batter.  What is the call?  Dead ball Batter takes first base.
 
48. Batter squares up to bunt the ball but does not "attempt" to bunt it.  Is it a strike? No, not unless the ball is in the strike zone.  As long as the batter does not make an "attempt" at the ball.

49. Ball is hit down first or third base line and hits the line.  What is the call?  Fair ball.

50. New rule change for Majors this year.  Dropped third strike by Catcher. Batter can run to first base if first base is unoccupied.

51.Infield fly: How is this called?  Less than 2 outs and runners on first and second base or the bases are loaded.  The ball must climax in the infield for this to be called as an infield fly.

52. In regardds to infield fly batter attempts a bunt with bases loaded or runners on first and second with less than 2 outs.  Is this an infield fly? No

53. If the ball hits the ground in front of the batter then strikes the batter is this a ball or a dead play where the batter reives the base?  Dead Ball Batter receives the base.

Fair & Foul Balls


There is a lot of confusion in the mind of the average baseball fan regarding the fair or foul ball situations.

DEFINITION:

A fair ball is a batted ball that settles on fair ground between home and first base, or between home and third base, or that is on or over fair territory when bounding to the outfield past first or third base, or that touches first on or beyond first base or third base, or that, while on or over fair territory touches the person of an umpire or player, or that, while over fair territory, passed out of the playing field in flight.

NOTE: A fair fly shall be adjudged according to the relative position of the ball and the foul line, including the foul pole, and not as to whether the fielder is on fair or foul territory at the time such fielder touches the ball.

HERE ARE SOME HELPFUL POINTS TO REMEMBER:

A. A ball is in fair territory if any part of it is on or over any part of the foul line.

B. A ball which stops rolling before it reaches first or third base is judged where it lies when it stops.

C. A ball which is touched before it reaches the base is judged in regard to its position when touched.

D. A ball which bounds into the outfield past first or third is judged relative to the base when it passes the base. If it goes over the base it is fair. If it is in foul territory as it passes the base, it is foul.

E. A ball which is batted over the fence is judged according to its position with the foul line when it leaves the field.

RULING EXAMPLES:

1. A batted ball bounces up to hit the batter or his bat after he swings at it.

Ruling: This is a foul ball unless he was obviously out of the batter's box when the contact occurred.

2. The third baseman is careful to keep his feet in fair territory he fields a ball in front of the base.

Ruling: Judge the ball by its position not based on the position of the fielder's feet.

3. A line drive strikes the umpire who is straddling the foul line behind the first baseman.

Ruling: Judge the ball according to its position with the foul line when it touches the umpire. If fair, the ball is in play. The umpire must make sure he is entirely in foul territory so that any line drive striking him will be foul. He was out of position on this play.

4. A batted ball rolls down the first baseline. It stops with part of he ball on the foul line and most of it over foul territory.

Ruling: This is a fair ball. When it stops before reaching the base, it is fair if any part of the ball is touching the foul line.

5. A fly ball hits the foul pole.

Ruling: Fair ball. The foul pole is fair territory. If the pole is behind the fence, it is a home run. If inside the fence, it is a fair ball in play. If the ball hits the foul pole which is inside the fence and is deflected over the fence in foul territory, it is a two base hit.

6. A batted ball is rolling down the first baseline in foul territory. While it is rolling the umpire calls it "foul". The ball hits a dirt clod and rolls into fair territory where it stops.

Ruling: The umpire has committed the unpardonable sin of calling a foul ball too soon. The ruling must stand as all play stops on the call.

7. The batter hits the ball. It then strikes the plate and bounces into fair territory where it is fielded.

Ruling: Fair ball. The plate is entirely in fair territory.

8. The batter hits the ball. It then strikes the plate and bounces into foul territory where it is fielded before it reaches first base.

Ruling: Foul ball.

9. A line drive hits the pitching rubber and goes untouched into the dugout.

Ruling: This is a foul ball. A batted ball which touches first, second, or third base becomes a fair ball. The pitchers plate is considered the sameas the ground around it. The location of the ball after deflecting from the plate would determine whether it is fair or foul.

10. A batted ball that comes to rest on home plate.

Ruling: The ball is fair and in play.

THE INFIELD FLY


The infield fly rule is one of the most confusing rules in the minds of the typical player and fan.

DEFINITION:
An infield fly is a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out. The pitcher, catcher and any outfielder stationed in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule.

When it seems apparent that a batted ball will be an infield fly, the umpire shall immediately declare "infield fly" for the benefit of the runners. If the ball is near the baseline, the umpire shall declare "infield fly, if fair". The ball is live and runners may advance at the risk of the ball being caught, or retouch and advance after the ball is touched, the same as on any fly ball. If the hit becomes a foul ball, it is treated the same as any foul.

SEVERAL POINTS MUST BE KEPT IN
WHEN MIND INVOLVED WITH THIS RULE

A. First and second base must be occupied. Whether or not third base is occupied has no effect on the rule. There must be no outs or one out. The rule was created for the protection of the runners, not the fielder.

B. A bunt may not be ruled an infield fly. By the nature of the play a penalty would be imposed on the offense rather than the defense.

C. A line drive may not be ruled an infield fly, as the calling of an out in this situation would not protect the runners.

D. The umpire must judge that the ball could have been caught with ordinary effort.

Exactly what is ordinary effort? That Little League shortstop and major league shortstops play under the same infield fly rule, but there's a universe of difference between their ordinary efforts. This is only one of the many situations that you as the umpire must use your judgment in determining what is ordinary effort for the player.

E. The umpires must be alert for the possibility of an infield fly. They should have a signal between each other to make sure each one is aware of the situation. Normally, the infield fly is called by the umpire nearest the ball followed by all other umpires. This should be done in a loud tone with arm signals so that everyone involved in the play, as well as the spectators, know of the ruling.

RULING EXAMPLES:
1. A runner standing on second base or any base is struck by a fly which has been declared an infield fly.

Ruling: The batter is out, the runner is not. Should the runner have been off the base when struck, both he and the batter would have been declared out.

2. The bases are loaded with no outs. The infielders are playing in for a force play at the plate. A fly ball is hit which could have been easily caught if the infielder had been at normal depth. Because he is playing in, the infielder attempts to catch the ball while running with his back to the plate.

Ruling: This is not an infield fly. The position of the fielder, not the ball, is the detemining factor in this case.

3. An infield fly is declared by the umpire. The shortstop catches the ball and throws it to second base before the runner who had left the base can return.

Ruling: A double play results. When an infield fly is declared the batter is out. The runners are not forced to run. The ball remains alive and in play in all other respects.

4. The infield fly situation is in effect. A fly ball is batted within the infield. No declaration is made by the umpire. All runners run. After the play is over, one of the umpires announces that he has applied the infield fly rule and the batter is out.

Ruling: This is a very serious mistake on the part of the umpire. An infield fly must be declared by the umpire as soon as he determines that the ball can be caught by the in­fielder with ordinary effort not after the play is over.

5. On a fly ball near the foul line in front of third base, the umpire calls "infield fly". The infielder lets the ball fall, it rolls into foul territory.

Ruling: Foul ball. The umpire should call "infield fly, if fair" on any doubtful fly ball. The omission does not change the fact that this is a foul ball.

 

 

INTERFERENCE CALLS

I believe interference is the toughest call an umpire has to make. It is a call based solely on the umpire's judgment. To make a good judgment as to whether or not interference occurred, the umpire must understand the definition as stated in the rules so it can be recognized when it occurs. After interference is called, the proper rule must be applied.

The definition as stated in Rule 2.00 is:

"(a) Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play. If the umpire declares the batter, batter-runner, or a runner out for interference, all other runners shall return to the last base that was in the judgment of the umpire, legally touched at the time of the interference, unless otherwise provided by these rules.

In the event the batter-runner has not reached first base, all runners shall return to the base last occupied at the time of the pitch.

(b) Defensive interference is an act by a fielder which hinders or prevents a batter from hitting a pitch."

It should be noted that (b) above is the only defensive interference. Hindering the runner by the defense is OBSTRUCTION.

How do we interpret this rule? The key, is to focus on the phrase "interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses." Those words cover a lot of actions. The umpire, after witnessing an act by the offense must ask himself the following question; "Did the offense interfere with, obstruct, impede, hinder or confuse the fielder attempting to make the play?" If the answer is yes, interference should be called. The call must be made as soon as possible. When interference is called the ball is immediately dead and no runners may advance beyond the base they held at the time of the interference. The umpire must be aware of where all runners are at the time of the call. When the interference occurs the umpire immediately calls it. You do not wait to see the outcome of the play.

Some interference calls are easy.
Example: If a runner is hit by a batted ball he is out and no judgment of intent is required unless he is hit by a deflected ball, or the ball has passed on infielder, in which case the umpire must decide if he intended to be hit to interfere, obstruct, impede, hinder or confuse the defense or if another fielder had a play on the ball. Rule 5.09(f) and 7.08(f).

Example: A runner must avoid a fielder attempting to field a BATTED BALL. If he does not he is guilty. This is a fairly easy call. Rule 7.09(L) and 7.08(b).

The fielder's protection begins the moment the ball is hit. That protection continues as he completes his initial play. His protection ends if he misplays the batted ball and has to move to recover it. Contact with the fielder is not necessary for interference to be called.

When a ball is hit, you have to judge which fielder has the best chance to field the ball. That fielder is then "protected" meaning; must not be interfered with, from the time the ball leaves the bat, up through the gloving of the ball and the act of throwing. The fielder is protected even if he
started to field the ball from outside the basepath and then moved into it to field the ball. The runner must avoid a fielder attempting to field a batted ball.
Rule 7.09(L). He must avoid the fielder and not interfere with him during the entire time that the fielder is in protected status and in all areas including the basepath.

Interference is the act of hindering or obstructing a fielder attempting to make a play. A "Play" is the act of throwing, or attempting a tag of a runner or a base, or an attempt to catch a throw.

Difficult calls are the ones involving thrown balls. Interference with a thrown ball must be judged as an intentional act. Rule 7.08(b), 7.09(L). If a runner is hit by a thrown ball while running the bases, he is not out unless the umpire judges that the runner intentionally interfered, obstructed, hindered or confused the defense attempting to make a play.

Some examples of interference are:
Yelling at a fielder as he attempts a catch or play (Note that the rule states "the team at bat.." This includes coaches and players on the bench.
Waving his arms to distract the fielder
Making contact with the fielder as he attempts a throw
Making contact or otherwise interfering with the fielder as he attempts to catch a batted ball
Making INTENTIONAL contact with a fielder as he attempts to catch a thrown ball. The runner has a right to the base path except when a fielder is attempting to field a BATTED ball
Making INTENTIONAL contact with a thrown ball
Stopping directly in front of a fielder attempting to field a ground ball
 

COLLISIONS VS INTERFERENCE

The runner has a right to an unobstructed path while running the bases. The fielder has a right to make a play without interference. The runner has the right to the base path except when a fielder is attempting to field a BATTED BALL or has possession of the ball.

Sometimes when the runner and fielder collide, no penalty should be applied. The umpire must judge whether someone's rights were violated. This applies mainly to plays where the throw and the runner are arriving at the same time. There is no such thing as a must slide rule. When a runner collides with a fielder attempting to field a batted ball, he should be called out in almost all cases. If the runner collides with a fielder attempting to catch a throw, the umpire must first decide if the collision was intentional, then decide if the act interfered with, impeded, hindered or confused the fielder. If the runner is legally in the base path and simply running the bases when a collision occurs, he is not out. If he deviates from his path and/or intentionally interferes, or makes malicious contact, he is out. In sliding to a base he must be able to reach out and touch the base with his hand. If he slides into a fielder while more than an arms length from the base it is interference if the fielder is attempting a play. If a runner goes into a base standing up AND this act hindered the fielder in an attempt to make a play, it is interference. This hinderance would have to be by contacting the fielder while in the act of throwing or attempting to throw. If the fielder makes no attempt to throw simply because the runner is in the base line standing up; this is NOT interference. If he does not slide, he must not touch the fielder while he is attempting a play. If the runner has already been put out before he interferes, then the ball is dead and the runner being played upon is also out.

The "must slide" rule is a myth. Only when the fielder has possession of the ball, is the runner required to make a choice of actions. The runner has two choices, slide OR attempt to get around the fielder. He is not required to slide only.
If the throw is almost to the fielder and a collision occurs; it is not interference or obstruction. It is a collision and neither player is penalized. However, intentional, malicious contact is never allowed. If the runner does it, call him out and eject him. If the fielder does it, award the base to the runner and eject the fielder.

Rule 7.09 is the main rule that covers interference. Rule 2.00 Interference and 2.00 Obstruction. Rule 7.08(b).
 

BATTER INTERFERENCE

Many people believe the batter's box is a safety zone for the batter. It is not. The batter MAY be called out for interference although he is within the box. The key words, impede, hinder, confuse or obstruct apply to this situation.

An umpire must use good judgment. The batter cannot be expected to immediately disappear. If he has a chance to avoid interference after he has had time to react to the situation and does not, he is guilty. If he just swung at a pitch, or had to duck a pitch and is off-balance, he can't reasonably be expected to then avoid a play at the plate. The batter should always be called out when he makes contact and is outside the box.
 

OBSTRUCTION

Obstruction is called when the defense hinders the runners ability to run the bases. There are two different applications of the rule. One causes an immediate dead ball and the other is delayed dead. If a play is being made on a runner who is obstructed, the ball is immediately dead. If no play is being made the ball is delayed dead. A play for purposes of this rule is when the ball is in-flight heading toward the base the runner is heading, an attempted tag, or when the runner is caught in a run-down. The rule book definition is:

"OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.

If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered "in the act of fielding a ball." It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the "act of fielding" the ball. For example: an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner."

A fake tag is considered obstruction.

The fielder may stand in the base path without the ball, IF, the throw is almost to him and he needs to be there to catch the ball. "Almost to him" is a judgment by the umpire. Some say that when a throw is over the infield grass and heading toward the fielder; the fielder is "in the act of fielding" and may stand where he needs to, to catch the ball. However, he may not actually block the base until he has possession of the ball. Until he has possession of the ball he must give the runner some way to get to the base. Obstruction can NEVER be called on a fielder for blocking a base; when he has possession of the ball.

As with interference, obstruction is also a tough judgment call. Contact between the runner and fielder is not necessary to meet the definition. If a runner must slow down or alter his path to avoid a fielder who is not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding, he has been obstructed.

If no play is being made on the runner at the time he is obstructed, the play continues. The tough part comes when the play stops. The umpire will award the runner the base to which the umpire believes he would have reached had he not been obstructed. For example: the batter hits a ball in the gap for what looks like an easy double. No play is being made on him. As he rounds first the fielder is in his path and they collide. The batter stops at first. The umpire will award the runner second base if he believes the runner would have made it there had he not been obstructed.

It does not matter where the obstruction occurs. If a runner is obstructed at first base and the umpire believes he could have made it to third base, he will be awarded third. The umpire must be the judge. If, in the umpire's judgment, a runner is slowed down by one step at first and then is thrown out by five steps at third, the out should stand.

An immediate dead ball obstruction is called when obstruction occurs while a play is being made on the runner. For example: a runner on first is attempting to reach third on a hit. He is obstructed by a fielder between second and third as the throw from the outfield is heading toward third. This is a play on the runner. The umpire should call "time" when the obstruction occurs and award the runner third base. Another example is a run-down play. It does not matter which way the runner is heading. If he is obstructed while being played upon in a run-down, he is awarded at least one base beyond the last base he held.

If a runner is obstructed attempting to get back to first on a pick-off play, the ball is dead and he is awarded second.

If a runner is awarded bases due to obstruction; runners ahead of him are forced to the next base. However, trailing runners are not always given another base when obstruction awards a lead runner another base.
Rule 7.06 covers obstruction. 7.06(a) is when a play is being made and 7.06(b) is when there is no play being made.
 

AWARD OF BASES

Much confusion exists regarding the proper award of bases after a ball enters dead ball territory.

The most common myth is the statement "he gets 1 plus 1." This is not correct. Rule 7.05 covers award of bases and an umpire must know all the details of this rule. Rule 7.05(g) is the focus of this document.

The basic thing to remember is:

When the pitcher throws the ball into dead ball territory while he is in contact with the rubber, the runners are awarded one base. If he is not in contact with the rubber he is a fielder. When any fielder throws the ball into dead ball territory, the runners are awarded two bases.

The complicated part of this rule is deciding from what position the two bases are awarded. There are several exceptions that can affect the award. I will try to simplify making the decision.

If the throw was the first play by an infielder, the award is two bases from where the runners were at the time the pitch was thrown in 99% of the plays. There is an exception that will be described later. Time of pitch is when the pitcher began his motion to the plate. "Where the runners were" means from the last legally held base. The direction they were running or how far between bases they were has nothing to do with the award. They get 2 bases closer to home plate from wherever they were positioned.

If the throw was the second play by an infielder, or any play by an outfielder, the award is two bases from the time the throw left the fielder's hand. The moment when the ball enters dead ball territory has no effect on the determination of the placement of the runners. The placement is from where the runners were at the time of the pitch or the time the throw left the thrower's hand depending on whether the play was the first play by an infielder or some other play.

A key thought to remember is:
"first play by an infielder = time of pitch. Second play or outfielder = time of release." The award is always two bases. The only decision is; from where?

EXCEPTIONS:

If ALL runners including the batter runner have advanced one base before the first play by an infielder, the award is from time of release. The key word is ALL. Example: Runner on second. A high pop-up is hit to the shortstop. The runner holds. The shortstop drops the ball, then throws to first attempting to get the batter who has already rounded the base before the release of the throw, and the ball enters dead ball territory. This was the first play by an infielder which means the award is from time of pitch. The exception states that ALL runners must advance a base before the time of release award is used. Because the runner at second held his base, the award is from time of pitch.

A play for purposes of this rule is a legitimate attempt to retire a runner. A throw to a base, an attempted tag or attempting to touch a base for a force out are plays. A fake throw or fielding a batted ball are not.

PLAY:

Runner on first. Ground ball to SS. The throw to second is too late and R1 is safe. The second baseman throws to first and the ball goes into dead ball area. R1 is awarded home and the batter is awarded second. This was the second play so time of release applies. R1 was at second when the throw was made. The batter was not at first at the time of the release.

An infielder is always an infielder for purposes of this rule even if he has gone into the outfield. Anytime the infielder's throw is the second throw after the batted ball has been fielded, the time of throw will apply in determining the award.

The catcher is an infielder for purposes of this rule. If he throws a batted ball out of play as the first play, the award is from time of pitch. If he throws away a ball on a second play or one in which the batter has not become a runner, the award is from time of throw.

 

THE APPEAL

APPEAL is an act of a fielder in claiming violation of the rules by the offensive team.
Appeals must be made while the ball is in play. (Alive). When the ball is dead, it becomes in play when the pitcher has the ball and is on the rubber and the umpire says "play."

When the ball is alive an appeal may be made by the defense in any of the following ways;
by touching the runner whom they believe committed a base running infraction;
or by touching the base they believe was missed while the runner was advancing;
or by touching the original base that a runner left before a fly ball was caught.
In all cases, the defense must make a verbal appeal to the umpire or complete an act that is unmistakably an appeal. Accidentally touching a base that was missed is not an appeal. A throw to a base to catch a runner who had not retouched is unmistakably an appeal.

Appeals must be made before the next pitch or play. If the defense makes an appeal after "time" has been called, the umpire should say "put the ball in play and appeal again." Since no runner may advance or be put out while the ball is dead, this is not a play and the defense has not lost their right to appeal after the ball is put in play.

The appeal itself is not a play. A fake throw to hold a runner is not a play. It is a play when a balk is committed during an appeal. Plays that occur during "continuous action" after an infraction do not cancel the defense's right to appeal.

The defense loses their right to appeal when any of the following actions occur:

When the throw made in an appeal attempt goes into dead ball territory. When this occurs no more appeals may be made at any base. This is an "err" on an appeal and is interpreted to be the same as a play.
A balk is committed before or as part of an appeal attempt.
A pitch is made to the batter.
A play is made that is not part of continuous action.
Continuous action example:

Runner on first misses second as he advances to third on a hit. The defense makes a play on him at third and he is safe. The play was part of continuous action after the hit, therefore, the defense may appeal the infraction at second.

An appeal should be clearly intended as an appeal, either by a verbal request by the player or an act that unmistakably indicates to the umpire that it is an appeal.

Rule 7.10 covers appeals.

 

THE BALK

This document will not attempt to cover everything regarding balks. It will cover the most frequently asked questions.
First, a bit about the basics of the balk rule. The purpose of the rule is to limit what the pitcher is allowed to do in an attempt to pick off a runner. Basically, it is pretty simple:
He cannot fake one thing and then do another. He cannot fake a pitch and then throw to a base, or fake a throw to a base and then pitch. If he starts either action, he must finish that action without hesitation or alteration. The rule specifies many specific actions, but it is a judgment of the umpire as to whether one action was started and not completed or not.
The pitcher does not have to step off the rubber to throw to a base. (You don't want to throw to a base after stepping off. If the throw goes out of play it is a 2 base award. If the throw goes out of play when throw is from the rubber it is a 1 base award.)
The pitcher may throw from the rubber to a base from the windup position. (It must be done before any movement that is part of the normal motion that is part of his windup.)
The pitcher may fake a throw to second or third base from the rubber, but not to first base. This may be done from the windup or the set position. (You do not have to step off the rubber to fake to 2nd or 3rd. Only if you fake to 1st.)
A jump turn is legal and considered being in contact with the rubber.
The pitcher may place his hands in a different set location before each pitch. He must come to a set before pitching to the batter, but not before throwing to a base. He may not set twice before the pitch.
A stretch move prior to the set is optional.
He must disengage the rubber with his pivot foot first.
He must step in the direction of the throw and prior to the release of the throw.
Once he is on the rubber he may do one of three things:
Throw to a base
Deliver a pitch
Disengage the rubber (pivot foot first)
In (1) and (2) above, the move must be completed without interruption or alteration, except for a fake to 2nd or 3rd.

The ball is not immediately dead if a pitch or throw is completed after the umpire yells "That's a balk."

Example play:
A runner is on second, 2-2 count. The pitcher stretches, but doesn't come to a set before delivering the pitch. The umpire yells "Balk!", but the pitch is thrown and the batter hits a grounder to shortstop. F5 looks the runner back and throws to first too late to get BR. What's the call? Where do you place the runners?

Answer: R2 is awarded third and the batter returns to the plate with the count 2-2.

In Pro rules, and Little League®, the ball is not immediately dead when a balk is called. If the pitch is thrown or a pick-off attempt is made the ball is still live. (Sometimes called delayed dead ball.) The ball becomes dead when all play has ended after the balk call or when the pitch or pick-off throw is caught.

Rule 8.05 - PENALTY: The ball is dead, and each runner shall advance one base without liability to be put out, unless the batter reaches first on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batter, or otherwise, and all other runners advance at least one base, in which case the play proceeds without reference to the balk.

APPROVED RULING: In cases where a pitcher balks and throws wild, either to a base or to home plate, a runner or runners may advance beyond the base to which he is entitled at his own risk.

It took me a long time to understand the wording in this rule. What it means in simpler terms is: When the play ends, the ball is dead. When a balk is committed and a pitch is thrown, if all offensive players advance at least one base on the play; ignore the balk. If ANY runner is put out BEFORE he advances one base or does not advance during the play; put everyone back where they were before the play began and then award all runners one base. If a runner is put out after all runners have advanced one base, the out stands and the balk is ignored.

The ball becomes dead when the catcher catches the pitch. If it is a passed ball or wild pitch, the ball remains alive until all play ends. When the balk is made in a pick-off attempt, the ball is dead when the fielder catches the throw. If the throw is wild, play continues.

Example: Runner on first. The pitcher balks during his throw to first and the ball gets away from the first baseman. The runner attempts to get to third and is thrown out. The out stands. He made the one base he would have been awarded and went beyond it at his own risk. If he had been thrown out at second the out would not count and he would be awarded second because of the balk

Rule 8.05 covers balks.