Rules Interpretations

From time to time, the BCAA Rules Interpreter, the BBUA board of directors, or the BBUA membership itself will issue interpretations of NFHS Baseball Rules.  In order to maintain consistency throughout Broward County for all of the schools we service, it is necessary for all umpires to review these interpretations and apply them on the field.  If you have a question about a rule or a mechanic used to umpire, please submit it here. 

Submit a Question

If you have a question about the high school baseball rules or its interpretations or the mechanics used to officiate high school baseball, please submit it here:

Rules or Mechanics Question:

In a game I had this afternoon, we had a situation where the "offensive Coach" wanted to talk to his batter!  As he called him over, the defensive Coach ran out to the Pitchers' Mound to talk to his Pitcher!  He was informed by the Plate Umpire that he was being charged with a trip to the Mound!  He politely disagreed and stated that he should NOT be a charged conference because the "offense" initiated the "time-out"!  We told him he was incorrect and he told us that he had done this many times before! 


If it is true that he has done this in the past (which I doubt), then OUR Umpires need to know the proper rule!  There are NO free "defensive conferences" other than for an injury!

When either team is charged with a conference, the opposing team has the right to participate in its own conference that is NOT CHARGED. The team having their NOT CHARGED conference must not delay the game and must conclude their conference when the team having the charged conference concludes their conference.


What’s the penalty for a fake tag?

A "fake tag" is considered OBSTRUCTION and falls under the penalty for obstruction. It is a delayed dead ball. The OBSTRUCTED RUNNER is awarded at least 1 base past the one he legally acquired BEFORE the obstruction took place. You can award him MORE if you believe he would have achieved more had the obstruction not happened. That is your judgment.

Preceding runners may be forced to advance because of the award of the obstructed runner.

[Editor’s Note:  Obstruction is ignored if, in the umpire’s judgment, the runner safely reached the base he would have achieved had there been no obstruction.  In addition to all of the above, upon the first fake tag by each team, a warning is issued to the head coach and subsequent offenders from that team are ejected.]

Pitching infractions

6-1-3 says the pitcher must start from the set position with his ball hand either at his side or behind his back. There is no mention of it being in front of the body dangling. Yet in the 2008 NFHS simplified and illustrated rules pg 99 top diagram, clearly states and shows that the pitcher may not have the ball in his pitching hand swinging free in front of his body-this is an illegal pitch or balk with runners on base. Is it illegal because it gives the pitcher an unfair advantage when starting to throw to a base for a possible pick off? I saw this at least 4 times in one inning. It was not called. Is this something that is called, ignored or warned? If I saw this once I might be inclined to call time go to the mound and while inspecting the ball mention this infraction to the pitcher (warn) then call on subsequent violations.

Pitching Infractions----

When using the set position, the pitcher is only permitted to have his pitching hand and arm at his side or behind his back while in the Stretch Mode. This is true only when the ball is in his pitching hand.

The penalty does not include any kind of warning. You are correct about the imposition of the penalty. The mechanic is this:

With a runner(s) on base---------Raise both hands above your head, call time, point to the pitcher and shout, "that's a balk". Now award the base runners 1 base each.

With no runners on base-------Raise both hands above your head, call time, point to the pitcher and shout, "That's an illegal pitch, it is a ball to the batter".

Regarding a call of batter interference:

Left handed batter in the box, runner on 1B. Runner steals, batter swings at the pitch and misses. Immediately the catcher comes up to throw and the ball hits the bat after the batter completes his swing (Normal swing-no discernable action) The batter did not step out of the box, did not lean across the plate. It happened quickly. I realize that this is a “judgment” call whether intentional or unintentional-does not matter but in this case the ump called batter interference and the batter out returning the runner to 1B. I reviewed the rule book and assume rule 7-3-5 (c) was used.

My question is, would you ever have a situation where “no call” would be made in this instance (incidental) or do we have to make a call to protect the defense in this situation.

Batter interference------

If the batter stays within his box and makes no effort or attempt to interfere with the catcher's throw back to the pitcher. You do NOT have interference. Especially given the scenario you presented. It was an ordinary swing and miss by the batter. If the batter, however, delayed his return of his bat after the forward thrust of the bat, now you have to use your judgment. Here is the simple thinking--------Was the batter doing everything he should be doing and needed to do in his role as a batter? Did both players have the right to occupy the same space at the same time? If the answer to these questions is YES, then you have nothing.  The mechanic-------Signal safe and shout "We have nothing, we have nothing". The ball remains live and any runner can advance at his own peril.  Now, however, your skill in handling situations will probably come into play------the defensive coach is coming out wanting the interference call. 

My question is regarding coaches that want to sit outside the dugouts with buckets.  There are some dugouts, like Cypress Park, where it is very hard for the coach to actually see the game.  How do 
we handle those situations?  Also, if the head coach of the home team decides to make that area a dead ball area and the visiting coach agrees, can we let them?

Sometimes it seems unfair and even impractical. However, the rule from FHSAA this year is finally very clear. The answer is NO. They can stand pr sit in the doorway gate entrance of the dugout, but not OUTSIDE the dugout on buckets or chairs or standing. It is not only so that they avoid the possibility of interfering with the play. IT IS ALSO A SAFETY ISSUE. The coaches cannot agree on a ground rule that supersedes an FHSAA playing rule. Even when they agree to designate a dead ball area for a photographer, the umpires must decide if this is a safe location.

[Note from BCAA Booking Commissioner:  We are to enforce the rules as they are written so let’s get the coaches in the dugouts where we can and if there isn't room, they must be extended toward the outfield on both sides and marked off.  Coaches can't sit on buckets in front of the dugouts anywhere.  They can sit on buckets in the entry way or stand there but no players in this area.]

Catcher is awaiting a throw from left field and is standing with his right foot in front of the plate toward the pitcher's mound and his left foot covering about three inches of the plate.

In this situation, there is no obstruction because the catcher is not denying access to the plate.  There is no set amount of a base or the plate that the fielder must provide access to without possession of the ball, but common sense must prevail.  So long as the runner does not have to alter his path to the base or plate, and no collision is imminent, access to the base or plate is not denied.

Thanks for submitting!