HIGHLANDS BASEBALL LEAGUE
ALLENDALE, HO-HO-KUS, SADDLE RIVER, UPPER SADDLE RIVER
PURPOSE: The purpose of this document is to collect in one place an overview of the rules, rule interpretations, ground rules and general guidelines. Questions regarding the application of these rules and guidelines should be addressed to the appropriate League Director or the President of the USR, HHK/SR or Allendale Baseball Association.
- The primary purpose of recreational baseball is to teach baseball skills and good sportsmanship. Games, as well as practices, are to be used for this purpose. UNDUE PRESSURE TO WIN IS DETRIMENTAL TO THIS OBJECTIVE. Both players and parents are to be monitored in this regard.
- Managers and coaches are expected to treat all players equally and fairly regardless of age, gender, race or ability.
- The Minors League is comprised of participants in the 3rd & 4th grades.
II. SCHEDULES, GAMES, FIELDS, FORFEITURES, ETC.
- Time of Games:
a) Scheduled games – Weekday games will start at 5:45 PM (or earlier, provided the umpires are present and there is a mutual agreement of the managers) unless specifically scheduled at a different time by the Minors League Director, as indicated in the official Minors League schedule. The starting times of weekend games will be determined by the League Director and posted on the official league schedules.
b) Canceled games – Any games cancelled due to inclement weather or for any other reason with the consent of the Minors League Director must be cancelled no later than ONE HOUR before the official start time of the game (e.g., 4:45 PM on a weekday). If a game is canceled on a WEEKDAY because the field has been closed by the Recreation Director due to inclement weather on or before 3:00 PM, the mangers will be notified by email. On weekdays, Managers are also encouraged to check the appropriate association’s telephone message or website but only AFTER 3:00 PM. On weekends, the League Directors will notify the Managers of field closures no later than 7:45 AM. Managers must notify the parents of their players immediately after receiving notice of a cancellation of a game.
c) Make-up games – A canceled game must be rescheduled and played. The decision regarding date and time of any make-up games will be determined by the mutual consent of team mangers and the League Director.
d) Schedule changes – No changes to the League schedule are permitted without the approval of the League Director. Every effort must be made to conform to the original schedule.
- Game Curfews:
a) Weekend games – games are not permitted to proceed beyond the starting time of the next scheduled game. For the purposes of this rule, when the game has reached the starting time of the next scheduled game it will be as if the umpire had called (ended) the game on account of darkness. NFHS rule 4-2-3 states: “If the game is called when the teams have not had an equal number of completed turns at bat, the score shall be the same as it was at the end of the last completed inning; except that if the home team in its half of the incomplete inning, scores a run (or runs) which equals or exceeds the opponent’s score, the final score shall be as recorded when the game is called”.
b) Weeknight games – the top of a new inning may not start after 8:00 PM from the beginning of the season through May 31st. From June 1st through the end of the season, the top of a new inning may not start after 8:15 PM. For the purposes of this rule, an inning starts at the moment the third out is made completing the preceding inning.
c) Official Time — The home plate umpire shall be responsible for establishing the official time of any game.
- Postponed or Interrupted Games – The primary factor in reaching a decision not to play or a game, or to halt a game due to rain, darkness or poor field conditions is PLAYER SAFETY.
a) During periods of inclement weather, coaches can mutually agree to postpone a game prior to the teams’ arrival at the field. However, this decision must be immediately communicated to the League Director for dissemination to other affected parties. Once on the field, the decision not to start a game is the joint responsibility of the managers in consultation with the umpires.
b) After a game begins, the decision to halt a game is the responsibility of the umpire. If any game is interrupted for any reason (inclement weather, darkness, curfew, etc.) prior to the game being an Official Game, the game will be suspended and completed at a later date. The game will be picked up at the point of the suspension and played to completion.
- Length of Games — Minors League games are six innings long. An interrupted game is an Official game at the end of 4 innings, or 3 ½ innings if the home team has scored more runs after the visiting team has batted four times.
- Home Team – is listed last on the official schedule. The home team shall:
a) Have its choice of dugouts
b) Provide three (3) new game balls
c) Maintain the field condition, placing bases at the proper distance, and return the bases after the game.
- Pre-game warm-ups – If the field on which a game is about to be played is available, the two teams scheduled to play the next game are permitted to use the field for batting practice by alternating the players from each team. HOWEVER, all batting practice activities must cease 15 minutes prior to the time the game is scheduled to begin. At that time, the home team is permitted to take infield/outfield practice for 5 minutes, followed by the visiting team taking infield/outfield practice for 5 minutes. Neither team is permitted to use its infield/outfield practice time for batting practice.
- Clean up – Each team shall be responsible to clean up its own dugout area.
- Results – The winning and losing team coaches shall report to the League Director the same day on the game is played, or as soon as practicable thereafter. The following Must be reported:
a) Final score
b) Names of pitchers used by both teams, the number pitches thrown by each pitcher and the number of out pitched by each. CC the opposing manager and travel managers.
- Forfeitures – No game may be started unless both teams have at least eight (8) players present. The games shall be declared a forfeit if a team does not have eight (8) players fifteen (15) minutes after the scheduled start of the game. However, even if a forfeit is declared, the game should still be played by balancing team rosters and proceeding under game conditions. Our objective is to play – players, participants and spectators all lose when games are not played. Umpires will be instructed by USR, HHK/SR & Allendale Baseball to remain under these circumstances.
- Standings & Playoff Seeding – All team shall make the playoffs. Teams will be seeded based on regular season record.
III. PLAYER PARTICIPATION
- Batters – The batting order shall include ALL PLAYERS PRESENT for the game. Players arriving after a game begins are to be added at the end of the batting order.
- Defensive Positioning – Ten (10) players will be used in the field. There will be four (4) outfielders playing “4-across” (i.e., no “short fielders”). In the event a team can field only nine (9) players, the team must play three (3) outfielders in a standard baseball lineup. If a team is playing with only eight (8) players, coaches have the discretion to play with either three (3) or two (2) outfielders, however, under no circumstances can a team play with less than two (2) outfielders. In this case, any defense alignment utilized by a coach must remain in effect for the entire inning.
- Defensive Alignment - Unless accomplished as part of a pitching change, defensive positions are NOT to be changed in the middle of an inning.
- Substitutions – Free substitution is permitted, but is subject to the following restrictions:
a) No player may sit out TWO consecutive innings in the field, except for injury, illness, disciplinary reasons, etc.
b) Every player MUST sit out one inning before any player sits out a second inning. Except for injury, illness, disciplinary reasons, etc.
c) Pitchers, once relieved, may not pitch again in the same game. However, pitchers may be assigned another defensive position in the field.
d) No player may be removed from a game during a half-inning except for illness, injury, etc., except that pitchers may be removed from the game during a half-inning if they are being relieved by pitchers that are entering the game from the bench (warming up in the bullpen).
e) If a player is forced to leave due to illness, injury or some other reason, that player’s spot in the lineup will be skipped over in future innings and will not constitute an out.
5. “Drafting” players – A maximum of three (3) players may be “drafted” from other teams in order to ensure a roster of ten (10) players for a given game. Players must be registered players in the League and may be selected from other teams within the same League. Managers are strongly discouraged from adding “drafted” players simply to improve their team’s competitiveness – the intent should be limited to avoiding forfeits or having the requisite number of players (10) for baseball. Once a player has been added to a lineup as a “drafted” player, he will be deemed under the rules to be a roster player for that ENTIRE game. “Drafting” players will be subject to the following restrictions:
a) T-Ball or Instructional League (2nd Grade) players are not permitted to play up in the Minors League.
b) “Drafted” players must:
i) NEVER pitch, under any circumstances
ii) ALWAYS play in the outfield, unless approved in advance by the opposing coach.
iii) ALWAYS play the minimum number of innings – roster players should receive preferential treatment
iv) ALWAYS shall be placed in the batting order behind every roster player present at the time the teams exchange the official lineups.
d) “Drafted” players are NOT permitted in the playoffs. In the case where a team would otherwise not be able to field a team for the playoffs due to injuries or illness, the League Directors will review the circumstances and decide whether drafted players will be permitted to play.
e) No player may be “drafted” more than three (3) times for the same team. Should a “drafted” player be requested to play for the same team more than 3 times, it is subject to approval by league directors.
- Proper decorum in the stands is as important to the baseball environment as good sportsmanship on the playing field. In this regard:
a) Coaches are responsible for “parent control” and will ensure that the League’s Code of Conduct is distributed to his players’ parents (when available). A team is subject to forfeit if “reasonable effort” is not undertaken by the manager to diffuse volatile behavior his players’ parents.
b) Each manager is responsible for controlling his team on the bench and on the fields. A manager may discipline a player by suspending him for up to one (1) game for various disciplinary problems, such as insubordination, equipment abuse, umpire abuse, failure to attend practice or games, bad language, etc. Longer suspensions may be imposed only with the approved of the League Director. All disciplinary action may be appealed by a player to the League Director, who shall have authority to determine if the nature and extent of the disciplinary action was reasonable and proper.
c) The home plate umpire is responsible for the area behind the backstop. Players and spectators are not to sit or climb on the backstop or fences surrounding the field and are prohibited from standing or sitting behind the backstop except at fields where bleachers are provided. Individuals sitting behind the backstop should not be allowed to distract the players.
- Managers, coaches and players are expected to shout encouragement to their teammates. Shouting at the other team or the umpire is prohibited. The use of improper language or threat of physical harm by any manager, coach or player may result in immediate dismissal from the playing field by the umpire or, if present, the League Director or President or Vice President of the USR, HHK/SR & Allendale Baseball Association.
- Players are not to engage in chants or other organized mayhem DESIGNED TO DISRUPT THE OPPOSING TEAM. Also individual players are not to bait or provoke individual players on an opposing team in an unsportsmanlike manner. Any manager or coach who encourages such conduct may be dismissed from the playing field by the umpire or, if present, the League Director, President or Vice President of the USR, HHK/SR and Allendale Baseball Association.
- Individuals permitted inside the field of play, whether for purposes of a game or a practice, include: the umpires, managers, coaches and members of the teams that are playing on the field; provided that such managers and coaches have been certified by the Rutgers S.A.F.E.T.Y. program and are listed by Rutgers as having fulfilled the requirements for its certification program, have been Finger Printed and cleared from a Background Check, and undergone the approved Concussion Training. No one else is to be allowed on the field of play. When the ball is in play, the only individuals allowed inside the field of play are the umpires, base coaches, players on the fielding team who are assigned to one of the fielding positions, any base runners and the batter.
- All players shall wear the complete uniform that was distributed to them at the beginning of the season. Every player must wear his hat with the bill forward and shall keep his or her shirt tucked in at all times. The umpires shall enforce this rule and shall stop any game in progress until a player has complied with these requirements.
- At the conclusion of a game, the players of each team and their respective managers and coaches shall line up and shake the hands of the opposing players, manager and coaches. The manager shall be responsible for ensuring that this ceremony occurs and may be disciplined by the League Director if he or she fails to do so.
- Team rosters will be determined using a balanced player draft. The purpose of the draft is to create competitively balanced teams; construction of team rosters using any other criteria should be discouraged. Draft protocol shall be determined by the Board of trustees of the USR, HHK/SR & Allendale baseball association and shall be administered by the League Director at a draft meeting scheduled by the League Director on reasonable notice to the appointed managers no later than two weeks before Opening Day.
- No player may be dropped from or added to a roster without the League Director’s approval.
- The League Director will advise all managers of changes on any team roster.
- Any player who quits a team during the season (for any reason but injury or illness) will be dropped from the League. In such situations:
a) The team manager should counsel with the player and his or her parents regarding the reasons behind the decision.
b) The manager should immediately notify the League Director.
c) The League Director should discuss the situation with the player’s parents and explore the reasons behind the decision not to play.
VI. UMPIRES, UMPIRE JUDGMENT AND PROTESTS
- The Umpire Coordinator appointed by USR, HHK/SR & Allendale Baseball Association will assign one (1) umpire to each game. Umpires will be adults who are certified. At all times managers and coaches should treat all umpires with the respect deserving of that position. The umpires have the authority to eject a player, manager, coach or spectator from a game or the area proximate to the playing field.
- If an umpire fails to show up for a game, demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the rules of play or repeatedly fails to apply the rules correctly, his performance should be reported to the League Director.
- Umpires need the on-field support of coaches, players, and spectators. They are human and are bound to make occasional errors in judgment. It is incumbent on all managers and coaches to put these errors into proper perspective and act as role models for the young people on their teams.
- Umpiring decisions are characterized as questions of judgment or the application of the rules of play. Managers and coaches should carefully evaluate any contested issue and determine into which of these two categories a situation falls before taking any action to appeal an umpire’s decision or to file a protest.
- Only a manager may confront an umpire regarding the protest of an umpire decision except, in the case of a base running call, one base coach may challenge the umpire’s determination. Under no circumstances shall more than one member of a coaching staff (including the manager) engage in any communication with an umpire regarding an umpiring call.
- Umpire judgment decisions may not be disputed.
VII. EQUIPMENT AND SAFETY
- Certified managers and certified coaches may serve as base coaches. Base coaches are to remain in the coaching box during play and only one coach is permitted in the coaching box at any one time.
- All batters, on-deck batters and base runners must wear a protective helmet with a face guard (unless a face guard waiver is required by their town’s association and is submitted by parent)
- All players are to remain in the dugout unless in the field, at bat, on deck, or coaching.
- The only people allowed in the dugouts during a game are the players on the teams that are playing in the game on the field, certified coaches and managers and, if necessary, the umpires. A parent may be permitted to enter the dugout during a time out or between innings to provide attention to a child who has experienced an injury warranting such attention. In such event, the parent will exit the dugout before play resumes.
- All equipment not in use must be kept in the dead ball area of the dugout at all times.
- No player is permitted to play with metal cleats on his or her shoes.
- Only certified managers or coaches or another player are permitted to warm up pitchers either in the bullpen or at home plate. Any players warming up a pitcher must wear a protective cup and a face mask.
- Players are permitted to wear any type of baseball glove or footwear (except metal cleats).
- All catchers must wear a face mask, catcher’s helmet, chest protector, shin guards, and protective cup.
- All other players are encouraged to wear a protective cup.
- All managers and coaches MUST BE CERTIFIED to be in the dugout or on the field of play.
- Managers and coaches shall not smoke, drink or swear on or near the field of play and should never be under the influence of alcohol or any drug when coaching.
VIII. RULES OF PLAY
- GENERAL — Except as amended in these Rules, the Official Little League Baseball playing rules shall govern play in the Minors League.
- “MERCY RULE” –HALF INNINGS END when five (5) runs score or three outs are recorded, whichever occurs first. If a team is up by 11 or more runs going into the 5th inning or 6 or more runs going into the final inning, the game is officially over but the coaches can continue if they wish to finish out the game.
a) Field Dimensions – The distance from the pitching rubber to home plate shall be 46 feet from the front edge of the pitching rubber to the rear point of home plate (closest to the catcher). The distance between bases shall be 60 feet. The distances for first and third base are measured from the back tip of home plate to the rear of each base (closest to the outfield). The distance to second base from first and third bases is measured from the plane of first and third base on the baseline. If created, a batter’s box shall be in the form of a rectangle, which is no more than 3 feet wide and 6 feet long. The pitching mound whether created with clay or drawn shall be a 12 foot diameter.
b) Appeal of a play — The procedure for making an appeal is as follows. If a ball is alive, deliver the ball to the base for which the appeal is being made and ask the umpire for a ruling. If the ball is dead, the ball must be first returned to the pitcher. The pitcher must then touch the rubber in a normal fashion (to put the ball back in play) before delivering the ball to the applicable base for an appeal.
c) Dead Ball — A ball is dead only when: (1) a time out is called by an umpire; or (2) it lands in a dead ball area as set forth in the Grounds Rules for the field of play.
d) Coaching Visits to the Field — A manager or coach of a team who is on the field may only enter the field of play after having been granted a time out by an umpire to confer with the pitcher or any other player or players; provided that a team is limited to two such visits by its manger or coaches, in the aggregate, per inning. Except in the event of a bona fide injury to a player, if a manager or coach enters the field of play for a third time in any inning while his or her team is the fielding team, the pitcher must be removed (pitcher to be removed upon second visit to the mound), whether or not such visit, is directed at the pitcher. A conference in which a player or players converge on the base lines constitutes a conference or visit for purposes of this rule.
a) BAT REGULATIONS
All non-wood approved 2 ¼ “ barrel bats permitted must have the BPF of 1.15 printed somewhere on the bat.
b) ILLEGAL BAT
An “at bat” begins when the first pitch is thrown. If an illegal bat has been used, a batter will be permitted to switch bats before the first pitch is thrown without penalty. If after the first pitch is thrown it is noticed the batter is using an illegal bat he will be called out on strikes. If it is discovered that the bat is illegal once the plate appearance is completed but before the bat is returned to the dugout the defense may take the penalty or the result of the play. No penalty will be incurred, however, once the bat is returned to the dugout.
c) Strike Zone
The strike zone is the area over home plate beginning at the batter’s mid-shin and reaching to the batter’s armpits, when the batter is standing in a natural bat-swinging position. Balls and strikes will be called as usual. The batter is out if three strikes are called by the home plate umpire, regardless of whether the third strike is caught or dropped by the catcher.
d) Throwing bats
No player is permitted to throw a bat. In the event that a player throws a bat, the umpire will issue a TEAM warning. All subsequent violations will result in the batter being called out; all base runners must return to the bases occupied at the time of the last pitch prior to the bat being thrown.
Bunting is not permitted. .
- BASE RUNNING:
a) Helmets must be worn at all times.
b) Stealing is not permitted. Base runners are permitted to leave a base ONLY when the batter strikes the ball. As a result, attempts to pick runners off base are NOT permitted. If a pickoff is attempted, runners may NOT advance.
c) Runners are permitted to advance around the bases as long as the ball is alive.
d) Once an infielder has control of the ball and the general play is stopped, or the ball is on the pitcher’s mound (or the general vicinity thereof), the play is dead and a runner will return to the previous base occupied unless the runner is more than half way to the next base.
e) Courtesy Runner for the catcher with two outs. The player making the last batted out must act as the runner. If not available, the player making the previous out must act as the runner.
f) Slide to Avoid—A runner will be called out if they do not slide or avoid a collision with a defensive player. Application of the sliding rule is a judgment call by the umpire and is not subject to appeal.
g) Head first slides are not allowed.
h) Overthrows. No extra base shall be awarded to a base runner in the event of an overthrow to either first or third base that results in the ball landing in dead ball area, except that a base runner who is between bases at the time the ball lands in dead ball territory shall be permitted to advance to the base he or she was advancing to at the time that the overthrow landed in the dead ball area. This rule shall apply to any thrown ball landing in a dead ball area.
i) Advancement of Base Runners. Any base runner is permitted to advance around the bases as long as the ball is alive. Except as may be otherwise determined by paragraph (h) above regarding balls thrown into dead ball territory, once a base runner’s forward progress has ceased (i.e., the runner halts his forward progress or returns to the last touched base), he shall be required to return to the last touched base. If a base runner has returned to a base or has ceased his forward progress and a fielder attempts to make a play designed to get any base runner out, all base runners may attempt to advance to the next base or bases at their own risk. The objective of this rule is to prohibit a base runner from advancing if he engages in any antics such as feigning that he is ceasing his forward progress with the intent to lull a fielder into believing that the runner shall not advance. The rule is not intended, however, to discourage aggressive base running permitted in accordance with this rule.
j) Dropped Third Strike rule is NOT in effect
k) Pinch Running – is NOT ALLOWED except for the following exceptions:
- In the event of a player injury or illness, however, this player must leave the game and cannot return unless both managers agree.
- With two (2) outs, the player that will be catcher at the start of the next half-inning may be replaced by a courtesy runner in order to put on the catcher’s equipment and speed up play.
- Any pinch runner MUST be the player who made the last out. If the player who made the last out is unavailable, the pinch runner must be the player who made the last out before him.
a) Pitchers are limited to a total of six (6) consecutive outs per game per game
b) Weekly maximum – For the purposes of this rule, the week begins on Sunday morning and ends on Saturday night. Pitching outs accumulated in a contest declared “no game” WILL count toward a pitcher’s weekly maximum.
- Regular Season – 12 outs weekly maximum IN ALL LEAGUES
- Playoffs – 15 outs weekly maximum IN ALL LEAGUES
NOTE: The rules pertaining to the weekly maximum will remain in effect as the season transitions from the end of the regular season to the beginning of the playoffs
c) The Maximum number of pitches per day is 65
d) Opposing Manager must confirm the number of pitches thrown at the end of each inning or removal of the pitcher from the mound.
The MANDATORY “REST” between games shall be as follows:
- If a player pitches 66 or more pitches in a day, (4) days of rest must be observed
- If a player pitches 51-65 pitches in a day, (3) days of rest must be observed
- If a player pitches 36-50 pitches in a day, (2) days of rest must be observed
- If a player pitches 21-35 pitches in a day, (1) day of rest must be observed
- If a player pitches 1-20 pitches in a day, (0) day of rest is required.
NOTE: Daily pitch count totals include all pitches thrown by a child in all leagues played including Town Recreation, Town Travel, School and Club teams.
e) ADDITIONAL PITCHING GUIDELINES:
- No pitcher may return to mound after being relieved
- The 2nd visit to the mound in 1 inning must result in the pitcher being removed
- Hit batsman—A pitcher shall be removed if he hits 3 batters in a game. The umpire shall use their discretion in circumstances where the hitter has not made an effort to avoid the pitch. The umpire shall announce to both managers and the pitcher of when an occurrence warrants an “official” hit batsman.
- Intentional walks are NOT permitted.
- GROUND RULES
a) Trees. A thrown or batted ball that hits any part of a tree that overhangs or is adjacent to the playing field is a dead ball and no play may be made on it.
b) Batting screen/fence. A ball that becomes caught in a screen or a fence is a dead ball and one additional base shall be awarded to all base runners.
c) Dead Ball Area. Any ball is dead if it is thrown outside the area extending from the end of the furthest fence post of the fences in front of dugouts alongside the first and third baselines and extending as an imaginary line from the end of the first and third base fence to each foul pole.
d) Artificial Barriers. Except in the event of a dead ball as described above, a thrown ball that hits any artificial barrier along the first or third baseline and rebounds into any portion of the playing field, whether in fair or foul territory, is considered a live ball.
e) Ground Rule Double. A ball hit beyond the fence at after having hit the ground will result in the base runner advancing to second base and no additional base if he or she is the batter and, in the case of a base runner who occupies a base when such a play occurs, two bases from the base which the base runner occupied before the ball was hit by the batter that landed beyond the fence after having hit the ground.
f) Infield Fly rule does NOT apply.
g) Line Up
Teams must bat the entire lineup. Free defensive substitution. If a player is injured during the game and unable to bat, he may be skipped in the batting order without penalty. The player is not permitted to re-enter the game once his at bat is skipped. The team with the injured player has the option of taking an “out” for that player. That said, under this circumstance the player shall maintain their eligibility for the game if there is reason to believe that the player may be able to return later in that game. The batting order may not be changed after the start of the game. If a player arrives late, he can only be added to the end of the lineup.