Come On Blue!
Batting Out of Order - Gotcha!!!
Last evening we had a heated game between Vortex and Mojo that brought about one of those dreaded situations where there is a dispute over the batting order. This was complicated by the fact that our home team, the Vortex, was missing their scorekeeper for the game. This meant that the book was solely being maintained by the visiting team, the Mojo. Ordinarily the home team keeps the official book, and if there are any disputes, then the two opposing scorekeepers get together and resolve the issue. Since this wasn't the case, then the home team did not have anybody keeping a real good watch on the order of their batters.
In a later inning the first batter got on base followed by the second batter hitting an inside the park home run. This brought the call of time as the Mojo's scorekeeper requesting "Time" and heading my direction behind the plate with his score book in hand. "Coaches," I yelled and brought them together near home plate and the Mojo scorekeeper made his protest, "They (Vortex) skipped their first batter this inning and their second and third batters should be out for batting out of order." I looked to the Vortex coach and asked, "Is this what happened?" He responded, "I don't have a score book, so we have to go by what his books says." I then looked at the book and asked, "So you are saying that the first batter this inning batted out of order. He then got on and the second batter, which is that batter that is supposed to follow him hit the home run and now you want to appeal? If so, then you are too late because once the second batter came to the plate and took a pitch it legitimized the first batter." To which came the most puzzled look that conveyed that "How did I get you for an ump" look without a word being spoken. What he did say is, "That's not the rule, the batters should be out and the runs not scored." In the midst of the tension came another Mojo assistant coach who shared the information that the order was actually right because of the put out that finished the prior inning. I still don't know the exact scenario, but the situation vaporized as quickly as it started and the game play continued.
So what are the actual rules regarding batting out of order? Where are they found and how can they be explained with simplicity so as to remove all confusion?
OFFICIAL RULES OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
The batting order shall be followed throughout the game unless a player is substituted for another. In that case the substitute shall take the place of the replaced player in the batting order.
Okay, it mandates that the batting order shall be followed.
(a) Each player of the offensive team shall bat in the order that his name appears in his teams batting order.
(b) The first batter in each inning after the first inning shall be the player whose name follows that of the last player who legally completed his time at bat in the preceding inning.
That's what we figured, but there has to be more. Let's keep looking. Here it is. I'll mark the really important parts in red, but recommend you read the entire section...
BATTING OUT OF TURN.
(a) A batter shall be called out, on appeal, when he fails to bat in his proper turn, and another batter completes a time at bat in his place.
(1) The proper batter may take his place in the batters box at any time before the improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and any balls and strikes shall be counted in the proper batters time at bat.
(b) When an improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and the defensive team appeals to the umpire before the first pitch to the next batter of either team, or before any play or attempted play, the umpire shall (1) declare the proper batter out; and (2) nullify any advance or score made because of a ball batted by the improper batter or because of the improper batters advance to first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batter or otherwise.
NOTE: If a runner advances, while the improper batter is at bat, on a stolen base, balk, wild pitch or passed ball, such advance is legal.
(c) When an improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and a pitch is made to the next batter of either team before an appeal is made, the improper batter thereby becomes the proper batter, and the results of his time at bat become legal.
(d) (1) When the proper batter is called out because he has failed to bat in turn, the next batter shall be the batter whose name follows that of the proper batter thus called out; (2) When an improper batter becomes a proper batter because no appeal is made before the next pitch, the next batter shall be the batter whose name follows that of such legalized improper batter. The instant an improper batters actions are legalized, the batting order picks up with the name following that of the legalized improper batter.
Rule 6.07 Comment: The umpire shall not direct the attention of any person to the presence in the batters box of an improper batter. This rule is designed to require constant vigilance by the players and managers of both teams. There are two fundamentals to keep in mind: When a player bats out of turn, the proper batter is the player called out. If an improper batter bats and reaches base or is out and no appeal is made before a pitch to the next batter, or before any play or attempted play, that improper batter is considered to have batted in proper turn and establishes the order that is to follow.
To illustrate various situations arising from batting out of turn, assume a first inning batting order as follows:
PLAY (1). Baker bats. With the count 2 balls and 1 strike, (a) the offensive team discovers the error or (b) the defensive team appeals. RULING: In either case, Abel replaces Baker, with the count on him 2 balls and 1 strike.
PLAY (2). Baker bats and doubles. The defensive team appeals (a) immediately or (b) after a pitch to Charles. RULING: (a) Abel is called out and Baker is the proper batter; (b) Baker stays on second and Charles is the proper batter.
PLAY (3). Abel walks. Baker walks. Charles forces Baker. Edward bats in Daniels turn. While Edward is at bat, Abel scores and Charles goes to second on a wild pitch. Edward grounds out, sending Charles to third. The defensive team appeals (a) immediately or (b) after a pitch to Daniel. RULING: (a) Abels run counts and Charles is entitled to second base since these advances were not made because of the improper batter batting a ball or advancing to first base. Charles must return to second base because his advance to third resulted from the improper batter batting a ball. Daniel is called out, and Edward is the proper batter; (b) Abels run counts and Charles stays on third. The proper batter is Frank.
PLAY (4). With the bases full and two out. Hooker bats in Franks turn, and triples, scoring three runs. The defensive team appeals (a) immediately, or (b) after a pitch to George. RULING: (a) Frank is called out and no runs score. George is the proper batter to lead off the second inning; (b) Hooker stays on third and three runs score. Irwin is the proper batter.
PLAY (5). After Play (4) (b) above, George continues at bat. (a) Hooker is picked off third base for the third out, or (b) George flies out, and no appeal is made. Who is the proper lead-off batter in the second inning? RULING: (a) Irwin. He became the proper batter as soon as the first pitch to George legalized Hookers triple; (b) Hooker. When no appeal was made, the first pitch to the lead-off batter of the opposing team legalized Georges time at bat.
PLAY (6). Daniel walks and Abel comes to bat. Daniel was an improper batter, and if an appeal is made before the first pitch to Abel, Abel is out, Daniel is removed from base, and Baker is the proper batter. There is no appeal, and a pitch is made to Abel. Daniels walk is now legalized, and Edward thereby becomes the proper batter. Edward can replace Abel at any time before Abel is put out or becomes a runner. He does not do so. Abel flies out, and Baker comes to bat. Abel was an improper batter, and if an appeal is made before the first pitch to Baker, Edward is out, and the proper batter is Frank. There is no appeal, and a pitch is made to Baker. Abels out is now legalized, and the proper batter is Baker. Baker walks. Charles is the proper batter. Charles flies out. Now Daniel is the proper batter, but he is on second base. Who is the proper batter? RULING: The proper batter is Edward. When the proper batter is on base, he is passed over, and the following batter becomes the proper batter.
That is a lot to digest, but once you get the concept it all makes sense. So let's return and play the "What If" game as they played out last night.
SCENARIO 1: Let's say that the Mojo scorekeeper was right and that the first batter of the inning (Able) was skipped. If he had brought this to everybody's attention as Baker was batting, then Able would have been brought into the batter's box resuming the count that was on Baker. Then Baker would follow him in the order.
SCENARIO 2: Baker bats and gets on base, then Mojo appeals. Able would be called out and Baker would then once again be at bat.
SCENARIO 3: Baker bats and gets on base. Charles hits a home run on the first pitch scoring two runs. Mojo appeals before Daniels takes a pitch. Charles at bat legitimized Baker's skipping Abel and this meant that Charles was actually following Baker correctly and there was no infraction. The time for appealing the skipping of Abel was past.
GAMESMANSHIP - The goal of gamesmanship is fighting for every advantage.
- • Winning is everything!
- • It's only cheating if you get caught!
- • It is the umpire's job to catch rulebreakers.
- • Players and coaches have no responsibility to follow the rules!
- • The ends always justify the means!
Should a coach bring the error in the batting order to the umpire's attention the moment he discovers it, or should he wait so that the out can be imposed and cause the most damage to the other team? This is a personal decision every coach must make. I prefer batting errors to be announced immediately upon their discovery, instead of the Cheshire Cat approach where the coach waits to pounce upon his prey. Fortunately we don't have to deal with this very often because of the two scorekeepers that are supposed to diligently preventing this from happening. But so is the world of amateur youth baseball where only one scorekeeper is present. I would prefer throwing gamesmanship out the window, in favor of sportsmanship. After all, we are developing the character of young men and NOT attempting to win at all cost.
Just my thoughts!