Little League Baseball Rules- you need to know
There are a lot of rules in the 2017 Little League Baseball official rule book. You need to know all of
these rules. If you don’t know the rules of the game you are coaching or playing you can’t be the best coach you can be for your players. This is a series of posts that will go over some of the Little League Baseball rules you need to know. Knowledge is power.
I am going to go over a few of the definitions and rules that coaches and umpires get confused about from time to time. There are many of obscure rules in the game of baseball so this will be a three part series.
The first definition that I am going to review for you is the illegal pitch. For the purpose of this post I will be referring to the Little League Major division. Below the major division Little League baseball considers it’s levels to be instructional and though these rules should be know they should be taught and not enforced.
What is an illegal pitch?
An illegal pitch is a pitch that is delivered unfairly by the pitcher to the batter. There are 2 instances in which an illegal pitch can be delivered in the major division.
- The pitcher makes a quick pitch
- The pitcher makes any motion associated with making a pitch while not on the pitcher’s plate (rubber)
In the first instance a quick pitch is any pitch that is delivered by the pitcher before the batter has had enough time to be reasonably ready in the batter’s box. This is left up to the umpire’s discretion.
When either illegal pitch is called by the umpire the penalty is, the ball is dead. No runners may advance. The pitch is called a ball. Even if no pitch has been thrown. The pitch is counted against the pitcher’s pitch count, even if no pitch was thrown.
With baseball there is usually an exception. The exception to this rule is this: If the pitch is hit the offense can decline the illegal pitch and except the play. To do this the offense must declare it as soon as the play ends. Also if the batter reaches first base safely and all other runners on base advance at least one base safely on the play, the play stands with no reference to the illegal pitch.
Infield Fly Rule…
The second definition I would like to review is the infield fly rule. There is often confusion with the infield fly rule because of the name. An infield fly is not limited to fly balls hit in the infield.
An infield fly is a fair ball not including a line drive or a bunt that can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort when first and second or first second and third base are occupied and there are less than 2 outs.
When an infield fly occurs a the umpire will immediately declare, “Infield fly!”, or “Infield fly if fair,” when the ball is near foul territory. During an infield fly situation the ball is live. Whether the ball is fielded or not by the defense the batter is out. All other runners will treat the play as if it were any other batted ball.
A small note on infield fly rule batted balls. If the defense does not field the ball and it lands in fair territory and then bounces foul before being touched or passing the first or third base bag it is a foul ball and the batter is not out. If the ball lands in foul territory and then bounces into fair territory before it is the above criteria are met it is a fair ball. The batter is still out but the runners can advance.
Interference, stay out of the way…
The next definition is interference. Interference is usually committed by the offensive team. Interference is something that can happen on a baseball field either on purpose or by accident. Keep in mind that interference does not have to be intentional.
Offensive interference is any act by the team that is batting to interfere with, obstruct impede, hinder or confuse any fielder attempting to make a play.
This rule is really confusing so you need to pay close attention. If the umpire calls any batter, batter- runner or a runner out for interference all other runners shall return to the last base that was legally touched at the time of the interference, unless otherwise provided in the rules. What base was last legally touched by a base runner is left to the discretion of the umpire. Keep in mind that interference does not have to be intentional.
The defense can commit interference. Defensive interference occurs when an act by a fielder hinders a batter from hitting a pitch. It is very rare for a fielder other than a catcher to interfere with a batter attempting to hit the ball. If a catcher touches the bat as the batter is attempting to swing at a pitch it is interference.
There is also umpire interference. Umpires get in the way all the time. Usually they are part of the playing field and there is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes though they interfere with the play and these are the examples.
- Umpire hinders, impedes, or prevents a catcher’s throwing attempt to retire a runner.
- When a fair ball touches an umpire in fair territory before the ball passes a fielder.
To give you an example of situation 1. The runner on first attempts to steal second base and the catcher pops up to make a throw. The slow old umpire gets hit in the face with the catcher’s throwing hand as he reaches back to make his throwing motion. Umpire interference is the call. The ball is dead and the runner must return to the base that they previously occupied.
Only the plate umpire can interfere with a catcher’s throw and it can only happen if the catcher fields the ball cleanly without having to leave their position. If the catcher has to try to slide to block the ball or bobbles it there can be no interference. If the catcher succeeds in throwing out the runner anyway there is no interference call.
An example of situation 2 would be an umpire down the first base line is lined up in fair territory and gets hit by a hard grounder before it reaches the first baseman who is playing very deep. In this situation the ball is dead and the batter is awarded first base and credited with a single.
The final way there can be interference is by a spectator. Spectator interference can only happen if a spectator reaches into the field of play. If a spectator reaches over or under a fence into the field of play the ball is dead. All runners return to the base that they last occupied safely.
Obstruction…the other way to be in the way.
The last definition that I would like to go over in the first post of this series on rules is obstruction.
Obstruction is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball, impedes the progress of
any runner. A fake tag is considered obstruction. Obstruction will be called when any player blocks a base without the ball in their possession.
The penalty for obstruction is a little confusing. When obstruction is called the umpire will award a base that they feel the player could have reached safely if the obstruction did not occur.
If a player is sliding into a base and can’t reach that base because a fielder is in the way but doesn’t have the ball the offensive player will be awarded that base. If they get up and run to the next base then that player is on their own and can be called out if they are tagged before reaching that base safely.
Thank you for taking the time to become more informed. A good knows the rules and their rule book. I will be continuing this series with 2 more posts about obscure rules that you really should know.