DISTRICT 2 UMPIRING CLINIC SET FOR SATURDAY 2/6
January 30, 2016
CALLING ALL PROSPECTIVE UMPIRES AND COACHES!!
The Delaware District 2 Little League Umpiring Clinic is set for Saturday 2/6 from 8AM to 12:30 PM @ Bible Fellowship Church of Newark. This clinic is geared towards educating current and prospective umpires on rules changes for 2016 and general umpiring/baseball knowledge.
Click here for directions to the Umpiring Clinic.
For more details on becoming a volunteer umpire in the NALL Minors and Majors Divisons (Ages 7 thru 12) please contact Don Robart, our Chief Umpire.
There will be more umpiring training sessions sponsored by NALL at the VFW facility as the season approaches.
NALL uses volunteer umpires (ages 13+), coaches, and parents to umpire all Minor and Majors Games. Younger divisions do not use umpires while older divisions use paid umpires through the Diamond State Umpires Association.
Umpiring of Minors and Majors games can be counted towards service hour requirements that many middle school and high schools require each year.
Umpire Starting Positioning
As a Base Umpire, there are four potential positions ("Slots") where you'll position yourself to start each play.
Slot A: 10 – 12 feet behind 1st base in foul territory
Slot B: 2 – 3 steps behind and 2 – 3 steps to the left of the 2nd baseman (in normal position)
Slot C: 2 – 3 steps behind and 2 – 3 steps to the left of the shortstop (in normal position)
Slot D: 10 – 12 feet behind 3rd base in foul territory
For a two person umpire crew - one Plate Umpire (PU) and one Base Umpire (BU1)
- If no runners on base – BU1 will start in Slot A.
- If one or more runners on any of the bases - BU1 will start in the Slot just ahead of the lead runner, except when a runner is on 3rd base (3B). In that case, BU1 will start in Slot C.
- Example: if runner on 2nd base (2B), BU1 starts in Slot C (just ahead of the runner). If a runner on 3B, BU1 also starts in Slot C.
- In a two-man crew, BU1 never starts in Slot D.
- Diagram 2 - Two Person Crew Examples
Which bases and runners am I responsible for?
For a two person umpire crew - one Plate Umpire (PU) and one Base Umpire (BU1)
- BU1 will make calls at all bases except home plate unless you (as BU1) and the PU agree to another arrangement.
- For example, PU may opt to cover plays at 3rd base (3B) under some scenarios and cover come-back plays on runners returning to 1st base (1B) when BU1 is in a Slot position other than A.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the pitcher begins his delivery to home plate. As he starts his motion, the batter moves into a bunting stance. The batter holds the bat over home plate as the pitch tracks high out of the strike zone. The batter makes no attempt to move the bat at all and the umpire rules the pitch a “ball.” The manager of the team in the field asks, and is granted, time so that he can get an explanation from the home-plate umpire as to why he called the pitch a ball when the batter never moved the bat out of the strike zone. The manager claims that since the batter did not pull the bat out of the strike zone while in the bunting position, it’s an automatic strike. Is the manager correct to challenge the umpire’s call?
To explain the rule, we reference the Definitions Section (2.00) of the 2015 Little League Baseball® Rulebook. Under the definition of “bunt,” a bunt is a batted ball not swung at, but intentionally met with the bat and tapped slowly. The mere holding of the bat in the strike zone is not an attempted bunt.
If no attempt is made to make contact with the ball outside the strike zone while in the bunting stance, it shall be called a ball. The batter must offer at the pitch for it to be a strike.
Foul Ball vs Foul Tip
Situation No. 1:
With no outs and no runners on base, the batter has a one-ball, no-strike count. The pitcher delivers a fastball that jams the batter, who pops the ball out of play. The foul ball results in the umpire signaling strike one. On the next pitch, a change-up from the pitcher fools the batter, who lunges at the pitch, popping the ball up. The blooper travels into foul territory down the first-base line, but the defense is unable to make a play before the ball hits the ground, resulting in the umpire yelling “foul ball” and signaling strike two. The batter would foul off one more pitch before eventually reaching safely on a base on balls.
To effectively and properly explain the foul ball call, we reference the Definitions Section (2.00) of the 2015 Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball® Rulebooks. According to the definition of a “foul ball,” on Pages 60-61, an umpire is expected to make a series of judgments based on foul territory.
A foul ball is a batted ball that settles on foul territory between home and first base, or between home and third base, or that bounds past first or third base on or over foul territory, or that first falls on foul territory beyond first or third base, or that while on or over foul territory, touches the person of an umpire or player or any object foreign to the natural ground. Note 1: A foul ball shall be judged according to the relative position of the ball and the foul line, including the foul pole, and not to as whether the fielder is on the foul or fair territory at the time the fielder touches the ball.
Situation No. 2:
With two outs and a runner on second base, the batter swings at a pitch that nicks the bat and goes sharply and directly into the catcher’s glove and is caught. The umpire immediately calls and signals foul tip and the base runner attempts to steal third base. The baserunner reached third base safely. At the end of the play, the manager of the defensive team calls “timeout” and asks the home plate umpire, “That ball was foul, why are you allowing the runner to stay on third?”
To explain the rule, we reference the Definitions Section (2.00) of the 2015 Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball® Rulebooks. Under the definition of “foul tip,” a foul-tip is a batted ball that goes sharp and direct to the catcher’s hand or glove and is legally caught. It is not a foul tip unless caught and any foul tip that is caught is a strike, and the ball is in play. It is not a catch if it is a rebound, unless the ball has first touched the catcher’s glove or hand. A foul tip can only be caught by the catcher.
A “strike” is defined as a legal pitch which meets several conditions, including being struck at by the batter and missed; Is not struck at, but part of the ball passes through any part of the strike zone; Is fouled by the batter when there are less than two strikes; Is bunted foul; Touches the batter’s person as the batter strikes at it (dead ball); Touches the batter in flight in the strike zone; or, Becomes a foul tip (Ball is live and in play).
Are Hands Part of the Bat?
Two runners are on base, and there are no outs and two strikes on the batter. The batter is set in the batter’s box and the pitcher delivers the pitch. The batter offers at the pitch and in the act of swinging the batter is hit on the hand by the pitch.
The umpire calls “dead ball” and indicates “strike three.”
After the manager requests and is granted time, he/she suggests that the player should be awarded first base because the ball hit the player’s hands. What is the ruling?
To make the proper call on this play, we reference the Definitions Section (2.00) of the 2014 Little League® Rulebook. Under part of the definition of a “strike,” on Page 64 Condition (e) states that a strike is a legal pitch that touches the batter’s person as the batter strikes at it. A dead ball is declared by the umpire.
Rule 6.05 (e) on Page 78 states: A batter is out when the batter attempts to hit a third strike and is touched by the ball.
In this scenario, the batter made an attempt to swing at the pitch. The swinging motion constitutes the batter offering at the pitch, making it a strike. The dead ball is called to eliminate the opportunity for a runner(s) to advance. A common misconception is that hands are part of the bat. The hands are part of a person’s body. If a pitch hits the batter’s hands the ball is dead; if he/she swung at the pitch, a strike is called (NOT a foul). If the batter was avoiding the pitch, the batter would be awarded first base.
Running Out of the Baseline
No runners on base, one out. The batter hits a line drive to right-center field. The batter-runner attempts to stretch the hit to a double, but when the center fielder throws the ball to the second baseman prior to the batter-runner reaching second base, the batter-runner stops and a rundown ensues.
After changing directions several times, the batter-runner is right on the transition line between outfield grass and infield dirt, halfway between first and second base. From there, the batter-runner runs straight to second base and safely acquires it after a failed tag attempt.
After the manager requests and is granted time, he/she suggests to the umpire that the batter-runner should be out for running out of the baseline. What is the ruling?
To make the proper call on this play, we reference rule 7.08 (a) (1) which states: Any runner is out when running more than three feet away from his/her baseline to avoid being tagged, unless such action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runner’s baseline is established when the tag attempt occurs, and is a straight line from the runner to the base to which he/she is attempting to reach.
In the scenario, the batter-runner’s baseline was a straight line from the transition line between grass and dirt halfway between first and second base and second base, when the tag attempt occurred. There is no violation and the batter-runner is safe. A common misconception is that the baseline is only a straight line between the bases. This is incorrect, as a runner’s baseline can dramatically change during the course of a rundown.
The Uncaught Third Strike
Understanding the uncaught third strike ruling involves knowledge of several rules that cover the batter, base runners, the pitcher and the definition of terms.
Let’s begin with the proper terminology and definition for this situation. As officials we should refer to this as an uncaught third strike, and NOT a dropped third strike. The basis for this can be found in Rule 2.00, under the definition of a catch.
The beginning of the definition states, “A catch is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in the hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it before it touches the ground.”
There are three points to bear in mind from this portion of the definition: 1. “secure possession” 2. “ball in flight” and 3. “before it touches the ground.” One constant is if a pitched ball bounces into the catcher’s mitt it can never be caught.
Little League Rule 6.09(b) states “The batter becomes a runner when the third strike called by an umpire is not caught, providing (1) first base is unoccupied or (2) first base is occupied with two out.” Please bear in mind that if you are working a Minor Division game, Rule 6.05(b) (2) states that in Minor League or Tee Ball the batter is out whether the third strike is caught or not caught by the catcher. If your league is using a double first base, Rule 7.15(g) explains which portion of the base may be used by the offense and the defense.
Finally, Rule 6.05(b) Approved Ruling, states the following, “To put the batter out, the defense must tag the batter or first base before the batter touches first base.” Please note that an uncaught third strike does not result in a dead ball or stopped play.
Although this article deals directly with the Uncaught Third Strike, it underscores the connection of the rules and reinforces the necessity for coaches and managers to have a firm grasp on the rules that govern the games.
There is a Right Way and Wrong Way to Appeal
A confusing situation can occur on Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball® fields when a team’s manager wants to “appeal” an umpire’s decision. As an example, an appeal may be warranted when the defensive team suspects that a runner has either left a base early or missed a base during the course of a play. Most of the confusion results from a lack of understanding on how to properly appeal a call.
Follow along with this scenario and see if it sounds familiar.
Runner on 2nd base - Fly ball hit to centerfield - Ball is caught - Runner on 2nd leaves early in trying to advance to 3rd base - Throw to 3rd is not in time - Runner is called “Safe.”
After the play is over, the defensive team’s manager requests “time out.” This request is granted by the umpire. The manager instructs his pitcher, who now has the ball, to throw to 2nd base and appeal that the runner left early. The player complies with the manager’s request. However, when the ball is thrown to 2nd base the umpire makes no call.
Hence, the confusion begins.
Why didn’t the umpire make a call? He’s either “Safe” or “Out,” right?
Because, we now have a “dead ball” situation, an appeal may not be made under “dead ball” conditions.
The umpire may say something like, “We have a dead ball,” indicating that the appeal may not be made under dead ball conditions. The manager may not understand what he is really saying. After several failed attempts; the manager becomes frustrated because he can’t understand why a call is not being made by the umpire.
By rule (5.11), once “time” is called by an umpire; the pitcher must now return to the pitcher’s plate with possession of the ball, assume a pitching position, and allow the umpire to put the ball back into “play” before an appeal can be made.
The baseball pitcher must then, either step directly to the base and throw or properly disengage the pitching plate prior to making the appeal. In softball, an appeal cannot be made from the pitching plate, so the pitcher must properly disengage prior to making the appeal. From this we learn that one of the biggest mistakes the manager can make is to request “time out.”
Before we look at the requirements for making a proper appeal; let’s address some of the common myths.
- Should the defensive team manager or a defensive player request time before making an “appeal?”
NO – All appeal plays must be made under “live ball” conditions.
- Does the ball have to go back to the pitcher before making an appeal?
NO – Any defensive player with possession of the ball may initiate the appeal.
- If the pitcher has the ball, does he/she have to go to the mound before making an appeal?
NO – Making contact with the pitching plate now restricts the actions of the pitcher. If the pitcher commits an illegal pitch in the process of making the appeal; this is considered a play and the right to the appeal is lost.
- Does the ball have to go to the base that was left early or missed?
NO – If the runner being appealed is still on base, the ball may go to any fielder that can tag the runner.
With these questions answered, let’s now look at the requirements for making a proper appeal.
- The appeal MUST be made before the next pitch.
- The appeal MUST be made before the next play or attempted play.
- The appeal MUST be made while the ball is “In Play.”
- The appeal MUST be made in a precise, unmistakable manner.
- The appeal MUST be made before all defensive players leave fair territory.
Recalling the earlier scenario:
- The simplest way for the defense to make the appeal would have been for the third baseman to maintain possession of the ball, tag the runner, and inform the umpire that the runner left second base early.
- Even after the pitcher had possession of the ball, he/she could have gone to third base and tagged the runner or thrown the ball back to the third baseman to tag the runner and announced that the runner left second base early.
- Of course the ball could have been thrown to a fielder to tag second base and announce the infraction, but then the runner on third base might try advancing to home. If a play is made on the runner now attempting to advance, prior to completing the appeal; the right to the appeal is lost.
If the appeal is successful and the runner is called “Out,” there might be a question of whether or not other runs score.
- If there are less than two outs, the status of preceding runners is not affected; runs may score on the play.
- If there are two outs, preceding runners may score if they do so before the appeal is made (timing play), unless the appeal is a force out.
- If there are two outs, no following runners may score.
This information should give you the basics for making a proper appeal.
Remember to open your Little League Baseball or Little League Softball Rulebooks to section 7.10 and study the rule in its entirety to ensure a complete understanding of appeals.
Stump the Ump
Stump the Ump Questions
1. The batter bunts a ball directly in front of home plate. The catcher fields the ball and his throw to first base hits the batter-runner in the back a quarter of the way to first base, in fair territory. The umpire calls the batter-runner out for interference. Right or wrong. 2. In a Little League Baseball game on Tuesday, a pitcher reaches a day(s) of rest threshold of 35 pitches while facing a batter. The batter is retired after the pitcher has thrown a total of 40 pitches. The team has a game on Thursday and the manager starts this same pitcher in the game on Thursday. Is this legal? 3. In a Little League Softball game, after the batter has hit a double, the pitcher wants to make an appeal that the batter-runner missed first base on her way to second base. The pitcher toes the pitcher’s plate and without disengaging the pitcher’s plate, steps and throws directly to first base to make the appeal. The umpire calls an illegal pitch. Is this right or wrong? 4. On a base hit, the runner who is advancing from 1st base has his/her helmet fall off. The umpire calls time, places the runner on 2nd base and warns the runner that if his/her helmet falls off again, he/she will be called out because the rules state that a runner must have a helmet on. Is this right or wrong? 5. In a Senior Baseball Game, the runner on 1st base is stealing on the pitch. The batter fouls off the pitch which goes sharp and direct to the catcher’s chest protector and then is caught by the catcher. The umpire signals a foul tip and leaves the runner on 2nd base. Is this right or wrong? 6. With no outs and no runners on base, the batter has a full count on him/her. The batter swings at a pitch in the dirt for strike three which is then caught by the catcher. Thinking that he/she is out, the batter starts walking back to his/her dugout up the third base line. As he she approaches the dugout but before entering the dugout, his/her teammates tells him/her to run to first base because it is an uncaught third strike. The batter takes off for 1st base by running directly across the infield and makes it safely to 1st base. The umpire calls the batter out for being out of the baseline. Is this right or wrong? 7. In a Little League Baseball game with no runners on base, the pitcher while in contact with the pitcher’s plate drops the ball. The umpire calls an illegal pitch and awards a ball to the batter. Is this right or wrong? 8. In a Senior League Softball game, the batter from the 1st base side batter’s box attempts a slap hit which goes foul. The ball is returned to the pitcher and put into play by the umpire. While the pitcher is taking her sign from the catcher, the batter steps across home plate to the other batter’s box. The umpire calls the batter out. Is this right or wrong? 9. On a fly ball hit to outfield, the batter-runner is obstructed by the first baseman before reaching first base. The fly ball is caught by the outfielder and the umpire signals a catch and an out. The offensive manager argues that the batter-runner should be awarded first base on the obstruction. Is the umpire right or wrong? 10. After a ball four gets past the catcher, the batter-runner thinking that he/she may be able to get to second base takes off running hard towards first base. As he/she gets close to first base, the first coach says to stay at first base. The batter-runner’s momentum carries him/her past first base. The batter-runner goes a few feet down the foul line, turns to his/her left and attempts to return immediately to first base. The first baseman seeing the batter-runner turn to his/her left, tags the batter-runner before he/she can return to first base. The umpire calls the batter-runner out for turning to his/her left. Is this right or wrong? - - - ANSWERS FOR THE STUMP THE UMP QUESTIONS 1. Wrong – Rule 6.05 (j) – The batter-runner is only required by rule to be in the runner’s lane once he/she has reached the halfway mark and since he/she was only one quarter of the way to first base, there cannot be a runner’s lane violation and the batter-runner would have had to do something intentional to be called out for interference so the ball is alive and in play. 2. Yes – Regulation VI (d) EXCEPTION – The pitcher reached the day(s) of rest threshold while pitching to the batter and will only be required to observe the calendar day(s) of rest threshold (35 pitches) that he reached during that at bat which was one calendar day’s rest which made him legal to pitch again on Thursday. 3. Right – Rule 8.05 (e) – An illegal pitch is when the pitcher throws to a base while the pivot foot is in contact with the pitcher’s plate. To throw to any base in softball the pitcher must disengage before making a throw for any reason while the ball is live. 4. Wrong – Rule 1.16 – Even though helmets are mandatory for all base runners, the umpire should not call time out until all action has ceased. There cannot be an out called for a runner losing their helmet, but if the player is intentionally removing his/her helmet while running the bases, he/she should be warned that intentionally removing the helmet can be grounds for removal from the game for unsportsmanlike conduct. 5. Wrong – Rule 2.00 – FOUL TIP – Even though the ball went sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher, it did not hit/touch the catcher’s hand or glove before hitting the catcher’s chest protector and being caught by the catcher. This is a rebound and a foul ball not a foul tip which means the runner must return to first base. 6. Wrong – Rule 6.05 (b) (2) APPROVED RULING – Since the catcher did not legally catch the third strike in flight, the batter-runner may attempt to advance to first base. The batter-runner can attempt to advance at anytime before entering the dugout or any other dead ball territory. To be put out the batter or first base must be tagged before the batter-runner reaches first base. The batter-runner can only be called out for being out of the baseline when he/she runs more than three feet out of his/her established baseline while trying to avoid a tag by the defensive player. 7. Wrong – Rule 8.05 (j) – To call an illegal pitch (a balk in Intermediate, Junior, Senior or Big League) under subsection (j) there must be a runner/s on base. If there are no runner(s) on base then it is nothing or as some call it a do over. 8. Right – Rule 6.06 (b) – The batter is out for illegal action when stepping from one batter’s box to the other while the pitcher is in a position to pitch. 9. The umpire is Right – Rule 7.06 (a) – Even though the batter-runner was obstructed before touching first base, the umpire is right because what would have happened had there been no obstruction. Since the fly ball was caught for the out on the batter, that is what would have happened with or without the obstruction. 10. Wrong – Rule 7.08 (c) EXCEPTION – The rule makes no distinction between a batter who has walked and any other batter-runner who has hit the ball. A batter who walks has the same right to overrun first base as a batter who has hit a ball in the infield or outfield and runs through the base. There is also no provision that says a batter-runner has to turn one way or the other whether it is a walk or batted ball. So a player that overruns first base can turn either way providing he/she returns immediately to first base. Now if in the judgment of the umpire the batter-runner makes a fake or an attempt to advance to second base (no matter which way he/she turned) then the batter-runner can be called out.