Its Official: Time to debate baseball

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 31, 2006

High school and college baseball teams are all well into their seasons now. The Major League teams are playing exhibition games while their opening day games are still a few weeks away.

Though most youth teams&8217; seasons are a few weeks in the future, most are already practicing and many select teams are already participating in tournaments.

One of those early-season youth games brought up a rule question which may have been misunderstood by many fans. Certainly I wasn&8217;t totally familiar with it.

Email newsletter signup

That incident happened in a scoreless game, but that is of no consequence. The lead-off batter reached base. The following batter, who was batting out of order, singled, sending the other base runner to second.

After the play was completed but before a pitch was made to the next batter (or a play of any kind was made) the opposing coach called time and appealed to the umpire about the out-of-order batter.

When the umpires had determined that the appeal was correct, they called the batter on first out and returned the other base runner to first base. According to rule, the decision by the umpires was correct.

If the appeal had been made too early &8212; while the out-of-order batter was still at bat &8212; the ruling would have involved no penalty. That batter would have been replaced at bat by the correct batter, with the pitch count remaining what it was before the appeal was made.

Had the appeal been made too late, which would have been after a pitch was made to the following batter, the appeal would have been disallowed and play would have continued as if nothing wrong had happened.

I guess it is expected that final determination of the meaning will be interpreted by lawyers rather than officials. What I write is in no way intended for umpires, officials, coaches nor the rules knowledgeable fan. And certainly not for lawyers.

While researching the &8220;Batting Out of Order&8221; rule, I found an interesting tidbit. It lists the 40 most common myths about baseball rules.

It can be found at:

Myths include the hands are considered part of the bat, the ball is dead on a foul tip, the batter is out if his foot touches the plate and tie goes to the runner.

Also, a runner may not steal on a foul tip, the batter does not get first base if hit by a pitch that bounces, if a fielder catches a fly ball and then falls over the fence it is a home run and the home plate umpire can overrule the other umpires at any time.

I have found that youth and high school baseball crowds mostly consist of parents, and few of those folks are rules-sophisticated unless they have spent years coaching. That is not meant to be critical. Games could not survive without fans.

And that&8217;s official.

Al Graning is a former SEC official and former Natchez resident. Reach him at