Little League Rules Myths
Many misunderstandings on the field are the result of "Everybody Knows That..." rules myths. Listed below are a collection of common mis-beliefs about Little League baseball rules. Each of these statements are false. Clicking on each link will explain the correct ruling.
- The ball is dead on a foul tip.
- A batted ball that hits the plate is a foul ball.
- The base coach can't leave the coach's box during play or he/she will be guilty of interference.
- A batter-runner cannot overrun first base on a base-on-balls.
- A fly ball that is deflected over the fence is a ground rule double.
- A base runner cannot be guilty of interference on a ground ball if he or she doesn't touch the fielder.
- A batter who bats of order is out.
- The pitcher gets eight warm-up pitches between innings.
- If a pitch hits a player's hands it's considered a foul ball, since hands are considered part of the bat.
- When the catcher blocks the plate without the ball, it should be called interference.
- The runner must always slide when the play is close.
- In order to be called out on a caught foul ball, the batted ball must go higher than the batter's head.
- On an overthrow out of play, the runners get 1 plus 1; the base he/she is going to plus one base.
- If a fielder holds a fly ball for two seconds it's a legal catch, even if he/she drops it thereafter.
- A runner who runs more the three feet away from a direct line between bases is out of the baseline and should be called out.
- In order to satisfy the mandatory playing rule, players must play six consecutive defensive outs.
- If a batter is batting out of turn, the scorekeeper should let the umpire know.
- When it's getting dark, the league president or safety officer can order the game halted.
- On a double play ball, it's mandatory for the runner going into second to slide or get out of the way.
- The runner is out if tagged when he/she turns to the left after crossing first base.
- It can't be an Infield Fly if the infielder is standing on the outfield grass.
- In order for a runner to be called out for interference, it must be intentional.
- The home plate umpire can over-rule another umpire if he/she has more experience or a better look at the play.
- When the batter backs out of the box when a pitch is delivered, it's an automatic strike.
- The batter is out when he/she hits the ball when he/she is touching home plate.
- A base coach cannot touch a runner. If he/she does, the runner is out.
- A runner cannot be called out if hit by a batted ball while standing on a base.
- In order to make a proper appeal play, the pitcher must first take the ball back to the mound.
- A batter cannot change from the left-handed to the right-handed batter's box after two strikes.
- A pitch that bounces as it comes in cannot be hit.
- The batter is not out for interference with the catcher if he/she stays in the batter's box.
- All appeals must be made verbally.
- Tagging the runner running from first on a ground ball is a tag play, not a force out.
Judgment calls can be appealed if the manager feels that the umpire
missed the call.
The word "appeal" is frequently misused. Judgment calls by umpires are not subject to question or objection by a manager or coach.
9.02(a) Any umpire's decision which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out, is final. No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions.
The only "appeal" of this nature that a manager may make under the rules is if the manager feels that the umpire has misapplied a playing rule. In this case, rules 9.02(b) and 9.02(c) apply:
9.02(b) If there is reasonable doubt that any umpire's decision may be in conflict with the rules, the manager may appeal the decision and ask that a correct ruling be made. Such appeal shall be made only to the umpire who made the protested decision.
9.02(c) If a decision is appealed, the umpire making the decision may ask another umpire for information before making a final decision. No umpire shall criticize, seek to reverse or interfere with another umpire's decision unless asked to do so by the umpire making it.
Thus, for example, when a manager thinks the base umpire "blew" a safe/out call at first base and goes to the plate umpire saying, "Can I appeal that?" he has no basis under the rules for the request. The safe/out call is a judgment call, and thus not questionable. Even supposing it were, the question should have been directed to the base umpire, not the plate umpire. The plate umpire should, therefore, simply answer "No" to this question.
That being said, if the manager approaches the base umpire and requests that he ask his partner to see if he had a better angle, this is not an "appeal," simply a request. The base umpire is under no obligation to go to his partner, but may do so if he feels that his partner may have information that bears on the call.
- When a relief pitcher replaces an injured pitcher, he/she gets as many warm-up pitches as he/she wants.
- Contact must occur for interference or obstruction to be called.
- If a fielder runs into an umpire while chasing a fly ball, this is interference and the batter should be called out.
- The batter-runner is always out if he runs outside the running lane after a bunted ball.
- Any Little League player who slides headfirst at any time is out.
- If the batter breaks his wrists when swinging, it's a strike.
- If the batter does not pull the bat out of the strike zone while in the bunting position, it's an automatic strike.
- Tie goes to the runner.
- Runners may not run the bases in reverse order.
- A runner may not steal on a foul tip.
- It is a force out when a runner is called out for not tagging up on a fly ball.
- An appeal on a runner who missed a base cannot be a force out.
- Runners may not advance when an infield fly is called.
- The batter does not get first base if hit by a pitch after it bounces.
- You must tag the base with your foot on a force out or appeal.
- The ball is always immediately dead on a balk.
- If a player's feet are in fair territory when the ball is touched, it is a fair ball.
- If a fielder catches a fly ball and then falls over the fence it is a home run.
- The ball is dead anytime the ball hits an umpire.
- Runners must stay on their bases until the pitcher releases the ball.
- The batter is out if he starts for the dugout before going to first after a dropped third strike.
- The pitcher must come to a set position and stop before a pick-off throw.
- The pitcher must step off the rubber before a pick-off throw.