Category Archives: rules

FED Rules – starting or ending the game with less than 9 players

As the High School season approaches, I’m trying to get FED rules down as much as possible. The obvious goal is to know every rule that might come up as well as or better than anyone else involved in the game.  So I’ll be using Carl Childress’ books and site,, and my good old rule book to make some notes on what I don’t know, and do my best to learn. Here’s one that I just grabbed from

It is a forfeit if a team cannot start a game with nine players or finish the game with at least
eight players. If a team is reduced to playing with eight players, during the course of the
game, it can return to nine players to finish the game (2007 rule change). An out shall be
called each time the empty spot in the batting order comes to bat. NFHS 4-4-1f.

I never really thought about playing a HS game with less than 9 – but now I know.


Umpire Interference in Baseball

I had my 1st umpire interference this weekend.

There are two (only) occurrences, specifically covered in the rules, that are considered umpire interference in baseball. If an umpire is hit by a batted ball, before that ball has passed an infielder (other than the pitcher), and if no other player has an opportunity to make a play on it, that’s umpire interference. Dead ball,  the batter is awarded first base, and all other runners advance only if forced.

I had the other kind. I was at Blackbrook Park (of course), in Whippany. Little kids on a big diamond. I had an inexperienced (I assume) catcher and, on a steal, he kind of took a step back and we tangled feet. Delayed dead ball, and, when the runner was safe, I killed the play and put him back on first.  I’m sure that in a tight spot in a big game, that’s a brutal call to have to make. In this case, they loved me for taking responsibility. And everyone knew he would steal on the next pitch anyway.

Not much else going on this weekend baseball, so my 1st case of umpire interference was the big event!


High School Umpire Class in New Jersey (NJ)

I saw this on tumpschooloday and wanted to pass it on. You have to take this class (or a similar one in a different region) if you want to work varsity baseball or softball in NJ, and its a pretty comprehensive, several week class.:

Have you ever wanted to be a High School Baseball or Softball Carded umpire?

Now is your chance.

The New Jersey State Baseball Umpire Association is now accepting applications for our upcoming 2013 Cadet Class.

Our Association covers Essex, Union, Morris, Passaic and Sussex Counties.

The classes will be held at Bloomfield High School starting in February 2013. Our instructors will be schooling you based on NFHS Baseball and Softball rules in addition to on-field umpire mechanics.

For more information please email

Essential: Putting the ball back in play

NHFS rule 5.1. 4 . . . After a dead ball, the ball becomes live when it is held by the ­pitcher in a legal pitching position, provided the pitcher has engaged the pitcher’s plate, the batter and the catcher are in their respective boxes, and the umpire calls “Play” and gives the appropriate signal.

This is  one of those rules that most coaches/players and many umpires are simply unaware of.  A ball goes foul, the coach tosses it back to the pitcher, and the game goes on.  But what happens if the runner takes off when the pitcher is walking back to the mound with the new ball? Or while he is standing on the back of the mound rubbing up the ball? How does your partner know when the ball is live?

 I suggest you get in the habit of putting the ball in play after every dead ball, especially when there are runners on base, following the rule cited above.  You may have to train the pitchers. Often they will get the ball and get right to straddling the rubber while looking over at 1st base.  Get their attention BEFORE they throw to 1st, so you don’t have to take away the pick off or the ball thrown into DBT award.

Calling a balk

See a balk, call a balk

I have to get better at calling a balk, plain and simple. I think I’ve gotten to where I recognize the balk in most cases, but I have been reluctant to pull the trigger. It’s the weakest part of my game, and it really distresses me.  Anyone can do the easy stuff – strikes and balls, safes and outs. But if I can’t call a balk, I’m not worth my fee. I will put some of the blame on the fact that in many of my big field games (and I still to as many 46/60 games as i do bigger field), we are warning pitchers, and the level of play is so bad that everyone just wants the game moving along. That’s a piss poor excuse, I know…so I take it back.

I just have to get better at calling balks, plain and simple.


Once I call ball 4, the batter becomes a runner and now, in order to be guilty of interference, he would have to INTENTIONALLY interfere with the catcher’s throw. Blew one/learned one.

Batter’s Interference

One of the situations that I don’t feel like I have a grasp on is batter’s interference – you don’t see it much.  Someone posted this quote from Jim Evans on a forum at Umpire-Empire and it explains the rule as pretty cut and dry: anything other than just standing still in the batter’s box that hinders the catcher should be ruled interference:

…The action by the batter which causes interference does not have to be intentional. The batter is obligated to avoid
making any movement which obstructs, impedes, or hinders the catcher’s play in any way. A swing which carries the batter over home plate and subsequently complicates the catcher’s play or attempted play should be ruled interference. Contact between the batter and catcher does not necessarily have to occur for interference to be ruled. Merely blocking the catcher’s vision to second base may very possibly be interference.A batter shall not be charged with interference for standing still and consequently complicating the catcher’s play at any base. If he is within the confines of the batter’s box, he must make some “other movement” that is deemed a hindrance to the catcher’s play before interference is ruled. …

SITUATION: One out…runner on second. The runner is attempting to steal third on the pitch. The batter tries to get out of the
catcher’s way by stepping out of the batter’s box. However, this movement hinders the catcher’s throw. The runner is safe at third. There was no intent to interfere. What’s your ruling?

RULING: Intent is not relevant. The batter is out for the interference and the runner must return to second.

Essential: A foul tip is a live ball

A Foul Tip Is A Live Ball

First, let’s make sure that we know that a foul tip is a very specific thing and most non-umpires (and too many umpires) use the term incorrectly.  A foul tip is a ball that goes sharply and directly from the bat to the catchers hand or glove and is caught by the catcher.

I’m not looking at a rule book, but I think that’s right on. Terminology-wise, let’s start with the fact that the ball has to be caught. So any foul ball that is not caught is a foul ball, never a foul tip.  OK –  the ball has to go “sharply and directly”.  The rule says nothing about the height of the ball. You just have to judge sharply and directly. The rule says nothing about “discernable arc” (another term you hear people throw around) – but it would be hard to go sharply and directly if it had an arc, IMO. Continue reading →

Essential: Dropped 3rd strike rule

Dropped 3rd strike rule

In both baseball and softball, at the older ages (generally once they allow unlimited stealing), the dropped 3rd strike rule is in effect. Here it is: if 1st base is unoccupied with less than 2 outs, or anytime with 2 outs, a 3rd strike that hits the ground before being secured by the catcher, is a live ball and the runner may attempt to advance to 1st base (and must be put out in the normal force play fashion).

From Wikipedia:

One intent of this rule is to ensure that a defensive player fields the ball cleanly in order for that team to record an out. It was thought that it was not enough that the offensive player be unsuccessful at the plate in order for an out to be made; a defensive player must be successful as well.

Rule-sets vary as to when the batter (now the batter-runner) retains the right to attept 1st base. In major league baseball, for example, the batter is out once he leaves the circl around home plate. In high-school baseball, he can attempt up until the time he enters his dugout or team area.

Finally – the term “dropped 3rd strike rule” is technically incorrect. The ball must be uncaught, not necessarily dropped.

Essential – Obstruction vs Interference

Obstruction vs Interference

For my first “essentials” post, I wanted to focus on obstruction vs interference.  Along with balls and strikes, and force plays, the concept obstruction vs interference is at the very core of baseball and softball.  Watch enough little league games, and you will see the following play (or volunteer to umpire a game and this will happen in the very first game you do!):

runner on 2nd, ground ball to the shortstop, the runner stays in the baseline and goes straight to the bag and, as a result, the fielder is unable to field the ball.

Half of them are yelling “interference” and half are yelling “he was in the base line”…they are all right!

Simply put, the fielder has the absolute right to field a batted ball. any act that hinders the fielder from fielding the batted ball is interference. Conversely, the runner has the absolute right to the base or to his or her basepath if the fielder is not fielding a batted ball or in possession of the ball. Overall, obstruction vs interference is not any more complicated than that – you just have to make sure you know how to enforce it.

Interference is an immediate deadball. In most cases, the runner committing the interference is ruled out and the other runners would return to the last base occupied at the time of the interference.

In most cases, obstruction is a delayed dead ball – meaning that you recognize and announce the obstruction and then wait and see what effect the obstruction has on the play. Simply put, if the runner if put out or denied advancement because of the obstruction, you enforce the obstruction.

Obstruction vs interference is, as I mentioned, one of the basics of baseball rules. My statements above are VERY general and there are a lot of scenarios to consider and familiarize yourself with.  As a matter of fact, just writing this post makes me realize that I have to brush up on obstruction vs interference and the variations and enforcements of each of them.