Most Frequently Asked Questions - Baseball Rules

After reading my explanation you may want to read the actual rule from the book.

The Pro rules with the casebook (which LL follows) Official Baseball Rules

Table of Contents

BATTER

FAIR/FOUL Ball? (Definition and how to determine) Rule 2.00
FOUL-TIP Rule 2.00
What defines a "CHECK SWING" Rule 2.00 Strike
Batting out of order Rule 6.07
Over-running first base on a walk or hit
Dropped third strike
Switch Hitter Changing Boxes
Throwing the bat during or after a swing
Pitch hits bat without batter swinging

PITCHER

A pitch hits the ground before crossing the plate
Trips to the mound by the manager
Taking signs from rubber

RUNNER

Teammates or coaches touching a base runner after a homerun
What is a FORCE PLAY? How does third out affect scoring?
Runner hit by batted ball
TAG - Legal tag of the runner or a base
INFIELD FLY Rule

Examples of interference

OTHER
APPEAL plays and proper appeal procedure
Umpire interference
First baseman's foot in foul ground
How do you PROTEST and what is protestable?
Time Limits - When does the game end?
Signal at home or first when base/tag are missed
Bat Sizes and Field Dimensions

TRIPS TO THE MOUND

It is not a charged conference if the manager or coach talks to the pitcher between innings, during the pitcher's warmup throws. If the manager remains with the pitcher after the allowed one minute or after the 8th throw, a conference is charged.

A manager or coach is considered to have concluded his visit to the mound when he leaves the 18-foot circle surrounding the pitcher's rubber. When the manager or coach leaves the 18-foot circle, he must keep going and not return to the mound.

If the catcher or any other player goes to the dugout and then immediately to the mound, it will be considered a visit to the mound by the manager.

If the manager or coach goes to the catcher or infielder and that player then goes to the mound (or the pitcher goes to the infielder at his position) before there is an intervening play (a pitch or other play), that will be the same as the manager or coach going to the mound.

In Little League®, if the manager calls time and meets with any defensive player, it is a charged visit.

If the defense meets when the offense calls time, it is not a visit if they break up immediately after the offense breaks up.

It is not a charged offensive time out if they meet when the defense called time, provided they break up when the defense ends their conference.

PITCHER TAKING SIGNS

The pitcher may take his signs from anybody he wishes. However, he must do it while he is on the rubber. It is not a balk if he does not take his signs from the rubber. The umpire should simply tell the pitcher to do it right. If he continues to violate the rule; eject him.

The purpose of the rule is to prevent a quick pitch to the batter or to hinder the runner in obtaining a lead off. If the pitcher takes his signs while off the rubber and quickly steps on and throws a pitch; this WOULD be a balk. But, it is a balk because of the quick pitch. NOT because he took the signs while off the rubber.

FIRST BASEMAN'S FOOT IN FOUL TERRITORY

The rule states that all fielders must be on fair territory. However, the N.A.P.B.L. Umpire Manual states regarding the first baseman:
"Do not insist on the first baseman playing with both feet in fair territory unless the offensive team protests. If they do, you must enforce the rule as written, but make sure it is enforced for both teams."

It is not a balk if the first baseman has one foot on foul territory. If both feet are on foul ground, nullify any play that occurs.

RUNNER HIT BY BATTED BALL

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 already passed all infielders, in which case the umpire must decide if he intended to be hit to interfere, obstruct, impede, hinder or confuse the defense.

A runner must avoid a fielder attempting to field a BATTED BALL. If he does not he is guilty. He may run out of the baseline, if necessary, if the fielder is fielding a batted ball. This is a fairly easy call. Rule 7.09(j) 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.

The runner is out when hit by a batted ball before it passes an infielder. (Rule 5.09(f) and 7.08(f) and 7.09(k)). If it passes one infielder and another fielder who is on the outfield side of the basepath had a possible play on the ball, the runner could still be called out. This is a judgment by the umpire. The pitcher is not considered an infielder for this rule. If the ball passes the pitcher, and the runner is hit before the ball passes through or by an infielder, the runner is out. The runner is expected to avoid the ball. The interpretation to be made with regard to the phrase "a fair ball goes through, or by, an infielder, and touches a runner immediately back of him" (Official Baseball Rules 7.09(k) and 5.09(f)) is that this refers to a ball that passes through the infielder's legs, or by his immediate vicinity, and strikes a runner directly behind the infielder.

If a runner is hit by a FAIR batted ball while he is in FAIR territory he is out with the above exceptions. This includes while he is standing on a base. The bases are in FAIR territory. If he is hit in fair territory, while on the base, before the ball has passed an infielder, he is out, except if he is hit by an infield-fly.

When a runner is called out for being hit by a fair batted ball, the batter gets first base. All other runners remain at the base they held at the time of the pitch, unless forced to advance by the batter being awarded first base.

PITCH HITS THE BAT WITHOUT A SWING

Anytime a pitch hits the bat, it is a batted ball, whether the batter was intentionally swinging or not. Even if he is ducking a pitch. If the ball hits the bat it is a batted ball. If the ball goes fair the batter better run to first. If it goes foul, it is a foul ball.

Fair or Foul Ball - Rule 2.00

Home plate is in fair territory and is treated like the ground. There is nothing special about it.
There is nothing special about the pitcher's rubber. It is part of the ground. If a ball hits it and bounces foul before passing first or third it is a foul ball.

Home plate and all the bases are in fair territory. Any batted ball that touches first, second or third is a fair ball. A ball that settles on home plate is a fair ball. A ball that hits home plate first is NOT a FOUL ball.

Two different criteria apply to judging fair or foul balls:


A ball that first touches the ground, or a player or an umpire in the outfield, is judged to be fair or foul based upon the relationship between the ball and the line at the instant the ball touches the ground, player or umpire. The location of the player or umpire's body or feet have nothing to do with the judgment. It's where the ball is in relation to the ground. The outfield is fair and foul territory beyond first or third base.

A ball that first touches the ground in the infield (in fair or foul territory) before first or third base, is not judged to be fair or foul until it stops or is touched by a player or an umpire or bounds beyond first or third base, or touches first or third base, or passes over first or third base. If it hits the ground on the home plate side of first or third and passes over the base on its way to the outfield; it is a fair ball. It may first touch the ground in foul territory and it is still not judged fair or foul until it stops or is touched or goes beyond first or third base. Example: ball touches the ground behind home plate, does not touch the catcher and spins into fair ground and stops. This is a FAIR ball.
A fair or foul ball shall be judged according to the relative position of the ball and the foul line, and not as to whether the fielder is on fair or foul territory at the time he touches the ball.
The instant the ball is touched you draw an imaginary vertical line from the ball to the ground. If the imaginary line touches foul territory, it is a foul ball, if fair territory, it is a fair ball. The position of the fielder's feet or body is of no consequence.

The ball may roll back and forth (within the infield) between fair and foul territory an unlimited number of times, and it is not declared fair or foul until it stops or is touched. Where the ball is when it is touched determines the judgment, not where the fielder is. The infield is both fair and foul territory within first and third base.

A pitch that hits the batter's bat is a batted ball. It doesn't matter whether he was swinging at the pitch or ducking away from it. The ball is judged fair or foul based on what happens to it after it hits the bat, based on the previously stated explanations.

See FAIR BALL and FOUL BALL in the Official Baseball Rules

Foul-tip

Rule 2.00 see also; Strike (g) and 6.05(b)

There is nothing "FOUL" about a foul-tip. It is a strike and the ball is alive. A foul-tip is the same as a swing and a miss. To be a foul-tip, by rule, the ball must go sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher's hand or glove AND BE CAUGHT.
Confusion arises on this because people commonly call any ball that is tipped or nicked a foul-tip. It is not a foul-tip, by rule, unless the nicked or tipped ball is caught. If it is not caught, it is simply a foul-ball. A foul-ball is a dead ball. A foul-tip (a legally caught nick) is a live ball strike, just like a swing and a miss.
Read the rule in the Official Baseball Rules

Dropped Third Strike

When a third strike is called, or is swung at and missed and the catcher does not make a legal catch, the batter may attempt to reach first base if it is unoccupied when there are less than 2 outs, or even when it is occupied when there are 2 outs. Occupied means it was occupied at the time of the pitch. The fact that the runner attempts to steal does not make the base unoccupied. Time of pitch is defined as the moment the pitcher starts his windup or commits to a pitch to the plate.
To be legally caught the ball must be caught in-flight. This means if the catcher catches the ball cleanly on a bounce it is NOT a legal catch. Rule 2.00 BALL casebook.
Rule 6.09(b) Comment: A batter who does not realize his situation on a third strike not caught, and who is not in the process of running to first base, shall be declared out once he leaves the dirt circle surrounding home plate.
If the bases are loaded with 2 out and the catcher does not make a legal catch of a third strike, a force play goes into effect because the batter has now become a runner. The catcher may step on home plate to force out the runner from third or tag the batter or throw to any other base.
In Little League® Majors and Minors (9 - 12) the batter is out on any third strike and may not attempt first base.
Rule 6.09(b)

Infield Fly Rule

The only difference between an infield fly and any other fly is that the batter is out when it is declared, and the ball does not have to be caught. Because the batter is declared out the runners are no longer forced to run, but they may run if they wish, at the risk of being put out. If the ball is caught they must tag-up before running, the same as on any fly ball. If the ball is not caught they may run without tagging up, the same as on any fly ball.
If the umpires forget to call an obvious infield fly, the rule is assumed to have been called and the batter is still out.
If a fly ball first lands untouched on foul ground before first or third base and bounces untouched into fair territory, it is an infield fly because it is now a fair ball and the batter is out. If the fly ball first lands untouched in fair territory before first or third and bounces untouched into foul territory, it is just a foul ball.

The Infield Fly is a judgment by the umpire that the ball could be caught with ORDINARY EFFORT by a player who was stationed in the infield at the time of the pitch. It is not automatic just because it's a pop-up in the infield.

Rule 2.00 Infield Fly

Switch Hitter Changing Boxes

A batter may switch to the other box after every pitch if he so desires. He may do it on any ball strike count. One of the oldest myths in baseball is the one that says you can't switch boxes when you have two strikes on you.
The only restriction on the batter is that he may not step into the other box after the pitcher is in position ready to pitch. Rule 6.06(b)

TAG - Legal tag of the base by a fielder

When a fielder tags a base to put a runner out on a force or appeal, he may touch the base with ANY part of his body. If he has the ball in his throwing hand he may touch the base with his glove, foot, knee, elbow, hair, nose, tongue or ANY part of his body. To put out a runner while the runner is not on a base, the runner must be tagged with the ball as stated below.


Rule 2.00 TAG - A TAG is the action of a fielder in touching a base with his body while holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove; or touching a runner with the ball, or with his hand or glove holding the ball, while holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove.

Throwing the bat on a swing

Young players quite often let go of the bat during or after a swing and sometimes hit another player. There is no rule that covers this situation. It is a safety issue and may be handled under the authority of rule 9.01(c) which gives the umpire authority to rule on anything not specifically covered in the rules.

Quite often I hear that umpires call the batter out for doing this. Sometimes it is after a warning and sometimes without. This is not correct. The defense hasn't earned an out. The batter should be called out, only if the throwing of the bat interfered with an attempted play by the defense.

Touching the runner

Several people have related plays in which the batter or a runner was called out for "high-fiving" or otherwise touching a teammate while rounding the bases after a homerun that was hit over the fence.
As long as all runners legally touch the bases while advancing to home, they can touch anybody they wish. The batter could be carried around the bases on the shoulders of his teammates as long as he comes down and touches each base as he reaches it and provided he is not physically assisted in returning to touch a missed base.
Rules 5.02 and 7.05(a) apply:
5.02 After the umpire calls "Play" the ball is alive and in play and remains alive and in play until for legal cause, or at the umpire's call of "Time" suspending play, the ball becomes dead. While the ball is dead no player may be put out, no bases may be run and no runs may be scored, except that runners may advance one or more bases as the result of acts which occurred while the ball was alive (such as, but not limited to a balk, an overthrow, interference, or a home run or other fair ball hit out of the playing field).
7.05 Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance
(a) To home base, scoring a run, if a fair ball goes out of the playing field in flight and he touched all bases legally; or if a fair ball which, in the umpire's judgment, would have gone out of the playing field in flight, is deflected by the act of a fielder in throwing his glove, cap, or any article of his apparel;
Touching all bases legally, means touching them in order and not missing any bases, and not passing a preceding runner or being passed by a following runner.
Rule 7.09(I) assistance by a coach only applies if the coach physically assists the runner by stopping him from touching the next base so he can correct the missing of a previous base. Interference is the act of interfering with a play. No play can occur when the ball is dead. The ball is dead when a homerun is hit over the fence.

Check-swing

"He broke his wrists", "The bat went past the front of the plate."
Many people believe those two statements are written in the rules or are written as official interpretations of a strike.
THEY ARE NOT.

A strike by definition is "a pitch that is struck at by the batter and is missed." It is purely a judgment made by the umpire as to whether the batter "struck at" the pitch. Breaking the wrists or the bat moving beyond the front of the plate or the batter's body, are factors that the umpire may use to make the judgment. Factors is all they are; not definitions.

It is not automatically a strike when a batter holds the bat over the plate preparing to bunt and does not pull it back when the pitch goes by. The same judgment applies. Did the batter "strike at" the pitch?
It is not automatically a strike when a batter is ducking an inside pitch and he spins around and the bat crosses the plate. The umpire must judge if he was avoiding the pitch or striking at it.

Interference

Rule 2.00, 6.05(k, m), 6.06(c), 7.08(b, f), 7.09

The following topic is not a particular play. It is a general subject.
After 18 years of umpiring and 8 years of training umpires; I'm convinced that interference is the toughest call to make, the most misunderstood and the cause of the most disputes. The email I have received has confirmed that view. I hope to clear up a few misconceptions here. Following is a list of critical items relating to interference.

INTERFERENCE is an act by the team at bat (notice it says "TEAM") which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play.
There are instances where the runner or batter are given some latitude. A runner is not out when hit by a deflected batted ball, unless the umpire judges the runner intentionally was hit to hinder a play. A runner is not out for being hit with a thrown ball unless the act was intentional. The batter is not expected to evaporate while in the batter's box. If he could not reasonably avoid a play because he just swung or ducked a pitch, he is safe. He can be called for interference while inside the batter's box.

  1. There are no "safety zones" on the field.
    The batter's box, the coach's box, the running lane, the dugout and the base path are not automatic safety zones. An offensive team member MAY be called out for interference in some situations while occupying any of these spaces.
    The offensive team is NEVER allowed to interfere with the defensive team's ability to make a play. In most instances the umpire is required to make a judgment. Sometimes judgment of intent is required. Sometimes an act is clearly defined by the rules and no judgment is necessary.
  2. The ball is dead immediately in most cases. There are some exceptions. If the umpire or the batter interfere with the catcher attempting to make a throw to retire a runner, the ball is delayed dead. If the runner is put out, the interference is ignored.
  3. Members of the offense must vacate any space necessary to allow the defensive player to make a play. This includes the batter's box, the coach's box, the dugout and the base path on a batted ball. See also Interference

Umpire Interference

I have received several requests for answers to plays where the umpire made a mistake in mechanics or procedure, or got in the middle of a play and was hit by a throw or bumped into a runner or fielder.
A few things need to be made clear:
By rule, umpire's interference only applies when the umpire is hit by a fair batted ball BEFORE it has passed an infielder, or when he interferes with a catcher's throw in an attempt to retire a runner. Anything else that an umpire is involved in is a live ball and play continues. It is not umpire interference, it is umpire incompetence. He deserves to be yelled at, but the play stands.
If an umpire makes a mistake on a call and his action creates a dead ball situation. It is not advisable for him to reverse his call and try to assume what would have happened if he had not "killed" the play.
For example: if the batter hits a pitch and it hits the plate and then goes into fair territory. It is a fair ball by rule. However, if an incompetent umpire yells "foul ball" when it hits the plate, he should stay with that call. The same as if he made a bad judgment on a fair/foul ball that hit near the line. Once an umpire makes a call which creates a dead ball situation, he should not reverse the call, no matter how bad it was. He could reverse a call in which the original call was "fair", because you can put everyone back where they were before the call. But, when you kill a play, you can't guess as to what would have happened, had play continued.

Batting out of order

Batting out of order calls can sometimes get very complicated. To simplify the rule, you must understand one basic premise. The PROPER batter, (the one who should have batted) is the one who is called out after an appeal is made by the defense AFTER the IMPROPER batter has completed his at-bat. If the appeal is made while the improper batter is at bat, no out is called, the proper batter takes his place and assumes any count. If no appeal is made before a pitch is thrown to the batter following the improper batter, the improper batter becomes proper and the player listed after him in the lineup is the next proper batter.
When the appeal is made immediately following the improper batter's at-bat, the PROPER batter is called out and the improper batter is removed from the bases. Any advance of runners made on the hit by the improper batter are nullified. If the improper batter made an out, that out and any advance of runners on the play is nullified and the out call on the proper batter takes effect. Any advance of runners while the improper batter is up are legal. Such as; a steal or advance on a passed ball or wild pitch.

Any improper batter who became proper and is on base, may remain on base. If another player is called out which would cause the runner on base to be due to bat, you skip that spot and go to the next player.

An improper batter becomes proper if a pitch is thrown to the next player who is batting, or any other play is made before an appeal is made. When an improper batter becomes proper, the next batter is the player who follows the improper batter who just became proper. Confused?

Protests and protestable calls - Rule 4.19

Judgment calls may not be protested. This means out/safe, fair/foul, ball/strike, obstruction/interference, hit batter, balk, etc. The game can only be protested when a rule has not been applied correctly.
Example: R1 and R3. R1 interferes with F4 attempting to field a grounder. The umpire calls R1 out for interference, but allows R3 to score.
This is incorrect. If, in the umpire's JUDGMENT interference occurred, the RULE states that the ball is dead and no runs may score or runners advance.
The judgment of whether it was interference or not, is NOT protestable. The fact that the umpire allowed the run to score IS protestable.

The batter attempts to bunt with less than two strikes and pops the ball up near the first base line. The back spin on the ball causes it to quickly roll into foul territory where it hits the batter runner who is attempting to get to first. The umpire calls the runner out. Was this correct or should it just be a foul ball and dead with the batter getting another chance?

Answer: He should not be called out unless the umpire judges that the runner intentionally did something to affect the course of the ball to gain an advantage for himself. Rule 7.09(c)
If that is his judgment, the play is NOT protestable. If he believes the rule states that the runner is out when touched by his own foul ball; he is incorrect and the play is protestable.

A protest must be made to the umpire-in-chief before the next pitch or play. In LL®, protests of the use of ineligible players may be made anytime prior to the last out of the game. When an ineligible player is discovered he is removed from the game and the opposing manager MAY protest or not at his discretion.

Appeals and the proper procedure

If time has NOT been called by the umpire an appeal may be made by the defense in any of the following ways;

  1. by touching the runner whom they believe committed a base running infraction (missed base or left before catch);
  2. or by touching the base they believe was missed while the runner was advancing;
  3. or by touching the original base that a runner left before a fly ball was caught.

In all cases a verbal appeal must be made to the umpire or 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 has not retouched is unmistakably an appeal.
Appeals must be made before the next pitch or play. If time has been called (or the ball is dead for any other reason. HR or foul ball etc.) and the defense makes an appeal, 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. A balk committed during an appeal is a play. Plays that occur during continuous action after an infraction do not cancel the defenses right to appeal.
The defense loses their right to appeal when any of the following actions occur:

  1. The throw to a base made in an appeal attempt goes into dead ball territory.
  2. A balk is committed before or as part of an appeal attempt.
  3. A pitch is made to the batter.
  4. A play is made that is not part of continuous action.

Calling time prior to making an appeal does not cause the defense to lose their right to appeal. The ball must be put back in play by the pitcher stepping on the rubber with the ball and the umpire stating "Play." Then the appeal may be made.

Batter-runner over-running first base

To simplify this; a batter-runner who is advancing to first base after ball four is treated no different than one who has hit a fair ball except that he cannot be put out BEFORE reaching first base. The ball is live and the runner may advance beyond first at his own risk.
The batter-runner in any case; hit or walk, is NOT REQUIRED to turn to the right when returning to first base. The runner is liable to be put out when tagged IF IN THE UMPIRE'S JUDGMENT, the runner MADE AN ATTEMPT to advance to second base. Simply turning to the left into fair territory is NOT automatically an attempt. If he reaches the base safely and stops on the base and then steps off the base, he is out when tagged. You are allowed to overrun the base if your momentum takes you down the foul line past the base. Reaching the base without the need to overrun down the foul line and then stepping off, puts you in jeopardy of being tagged out.

Over-running means to run directly down the foul line. This is allowed on a walk or a hit. If the runner on a walk or a hit turns left AND in the umpire's judgment, makes an attempt to advance, the runner is liable to be put out.

Rules 6.08(a) and 7.08(c, and j) in the Official Baseball Rules

Pitch hits the ground

I'm always amazed by this question. A PITCH is a ball delivered to the batter by the pitcher. Nowhere does it say anything about how it was delivered. A pitcher can roll the ball on the ground or throw it straight up in the air. If it travels across the foul lines, it is a pitch. Any rule that makes any statement about a pitch is referring to this definition. Therefore, if a pitch touches the ground before reaching the plate, it is by definition a pitch. The batter may hit it, and the hit is legal. If he is touched by it and was trying to avoid it, he is awarded first base. If he swings and misses it, it is a strike.
The only thing a pitch that touches the ground can never be; is a CALLED strike or a caught third strike. Both of these must be in-flight pitches.

Bat Sizes and Field Dimensions

Bat - Little League - rule 1.10 It shall be a smooth, rounded stick and made of wood or of material tested and proved acceptable to Little League standards. It shall not be more than 33 inches in length, not be more than two and one-quarter inches in diameter, and if wood, not less than fifteen-sixteenth inches in diameter (7/8 inch for bats less than 30 inches) at its smallest part. A non-wood bat must have a grip of cork, tape or composition material, and must extend a minimum of 10 inches from the small end. Slippery tape or similar material is prohibited.

Bat - Senior League - rule 1.10 It shall be a smooth, rounded stick and made of wood or of material tested and proved acceptable to Little League standards. It shall not be more than 34 inches in length, not more than two and three-quarter inches in diameter.

Pitcher's mound and distance to home plate and to fences

Little League - The rubber is a 4" by 18" slab that is set 6" above the level of home plate. The slope starts at a point 4" toward home on the home plate side of the rubber. The drop of the slope is 1" down for each 12" toward home plate. The distance is 46 feet from the home plate side of the rubber to the apex at the rear of home plate.

The homerun fence is recommended to be at least 200 feet from home plate.

Senior League - The rubber is a 6" by 24" slab that is set 10" above the level of home plate. The slope starts at a point 6" toward home on the home plate side of the rubber. The drop of the slope is 1" down for each 12" toward home plate. The distance is 60 feet 6 inches from the home plate side of the rubber to the apex at the rear of home plate.

The homerun fence is recommended to be at least 300 feet from home plate.

The Field

The bases are 60 feet apart for Little League and 90 feet for Senior League. All bases, and home plate are within the infield and within fair territory. The distance from home to first and third bases is measured from the apex at the rear of home plate, to the OUTFIELD side of first and third bases. HOWEVER; the line from first to second and third to second goes from the outfield/foul-line corner of the bases to the CENTER of second base. More simply stated; after you mark the 60 or 90 foot square; you place home, first and third inside WITHIN the square and place the CENTER of second base on the point where the lines from first and third meet.

Force Play

Rule 4.09 - A run scores when a runner touches home plate before the third out is made, EXCEPT that no run can score when the third out is the result of a force play, or when the batter is put out before reaching first base.
Many people believe that a FORCE OUT is any play where you can put out a runner simply by touching a base. This is NOT correct. Many people think that when you tag the runner instead of stepping on the base that the runner was forced to; that this is not a force-play. This is also NOT correct
A FORCE PLAY is in effect anytime a runner is forced to leave his base because the batter became a runner. It doesn't matter how the runner is put out; a tag, an appeal or stepping on the base; in all three cases the out is a FORCE PLAY.


There are three types of plays where touching the base is all that is required.

  1. When a runner must advance because the batter became a runner. (This is always a FORCE play)
  2. When an appeal is made that a runner missed a base while advancing or retreating. (This could be a FORCE PLAY if the base being appealed is one to which the runner was forced to advance. Otherwise it is not.
  3. When an appeal is made that a runner did not retouch (tag-up) after a fly ball was caught. (This is NEVER A FORCE PLAY)

Rule 2.00 which contains definitions is an important part of the rule book. Many people do not understand what a force play is.


A FORCE PLAY is a play in which a runner legally loses his right to occupy a base by reason of the batter becoming a runner. This means anytime a batter is put out before reaching first base ALL forces are off. If a following runner who was forced to advance is put out, the force on the preceding runner is removed.

Confusion regarding this play is removed by remembering that frequently the "force" situation is removed during the play. Example: Man on first, one out, ball hit sharply to first baseman who touches the bag and the batter-runner is out. The force is removed at that moment and the runner advancing to second must be tagged. If there had been a runner on third or second, and either of these runners scored before the tag-out at second, the run counts. Had the first baseman thrown to second and the ball then been returned to first, the play at second was a force out, making two outs, and the return throw to first ahead of the runner would have made three outs. In that case, no run would score because the batter made the third out before reaching first.

Example: NOT a force out. One out. Runner on first and third. Batter flies out. Two out. (All forces are now removed) The runner on third tags up and scores. Runner on first tries to retouch before the throw from the fielder reaches the first baseman, but does not get back in time and is out. Three outs. If, in the umpire's judgment, the runner from third touched home before the ball was held at first base, the run counts.

The above two paragraphs are from the rule book. In the example above, you must understand that the batter was out on the catch. That removed any force play by definition of force play. The attempt by R1 to return to first after the catch is NOT a force play. It is an appeal play and for scoring purposes a TIME play. People frequently make the mistake of saying he is forced to tag up, thereby thinking it is a force play. The proper statement is; he must retouch. But, any play on the attempt to retouch is NOT a force play, because the batter has been put out.

Time Limits - When does the game end?

In Little League® time limits may be used in the Minor divisions, but not in the Majors, with an exception in the Majors that when 2 games are scheduled at NIGHT and there is a curfew on the last game, a time limit may be placed on the first game.

Time Limits are not part of baseball, therefore there are no Official rules regarding the issue. Any league that opts to use time limits must specify in detail, their own rules to cover all situations.

Typically, the rule is written that no NEW inning may begin once the time limit has been reached. An inning ends the moment the third out is made. Therefore, if the third out is made one second before the time expires, a new inning could be started. If it occurs one second after the time limit has been reached; the game is over. If an inning is in progress when the time expires, the inning should be completed (or the half inning if the home team is ahead.) Usually only one extra inning is allowed if the game is tied at the end of an inning after time has expired.

These are the typical rules. Each league may determine it's own rules.

Missed tag and missed base

The first answer is from the N.A.P.B.L Umpire Manual which is now available in bookstores. The second is from clinics I've attended and articles in "Referee" magazine:

"On a play at the plate, should the runner miss home plate and the fielder miss the tag on the runner, the umpire shall make no signal on the play. The runner must be tagged if he attempts to return to the plate; if he continues on his way to the bench, the defense may make an appeal."

"On a play at first base where the runner beats the catch of the throw, but misses first base, the umpire signals and calls safe. The runner beat the throw so he is safe. The missing of the base is an appeal of a base running infraction and must be made by the defense, not the umpire. If the defense appeals before he returns to the base you then call the runner out." Don't ask me why the two plays are handled differently. I don't know. They just are according to the official rulings.