HIGHLIANDS BASEBALL LEAGUE
ALLENDALE, HO-HO-KUS, SADDLE RIVER
LOCAL RULES AND INTERPRETATIONS
APPLICABLE TO ALL LEAGUES
PURPOSE: The purpose of this document is to collect in one place an overview of the rules, rule interpretations, ground rules and general guidelines that govern the Saddle River Valley baseball programs. Questions regarding the application of these rules and guidelines should be addressed to the appropriate League Director. Amendments applicable to each individual League can be found in Appendix I-V.
- 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.
- Coaches are expected to treat all players equally and fairly regardless of age, gender, or ability.
- Leagues are set up according to the school grade level of the participants:
Instructional League 1 1st grade
Instructional League 2 2nd grade
Minor League 3rd and 4th grades
Major League 5th and 6th grades
Pony League 7th and 8th 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 coaches) unless specifically scheduled at a different time by the League Directors, as indicated in the official league schedule. The starting times of weekend games will be determined by the League Directors and posted on the official league schedules.
b) Make-up games – NOTE: This is not new, but will be enforced in 2015. Dates and times of make-up games will be determined by the mutual consent of team coaches and the League Directors. Teams are required to schedule make-up games within 48 hours after a game has been postponed, otherwise the League Directors will assign a make-up game date and time to the teams. All games must be made-up no later than the day of the last regularly scheduled league game, unless approved by the League Director. The League Directors must be given at least 24 hours prior notice of a requested make-up game in order to ensure that an umpire can be arranged.
c) Schedule changes – no changes to the League schedule are permitted without the approval of the League Directors.
- Game Curfews:
a) Weekday & Weekend games – games are not permitted to proceed beyond the starting time of the next scheduled game (including make-up games approved by the League Director). 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 will be applied to determine the winner and score of the game. [Here is the language for Leagues not governed by NFHS -- "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. In all cases, the umpires will be responsible for establishing the official time.
- Postponed or Interrupted Games – The primary factor in reaching a decision not to play 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 coaches 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 umpire shall declare the contest “no game”.
- 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 (supplied by the League).
c) Maintain the field condition, including laying out bases at the proper distances, removing any portable pitching mounds at the conclusion of the game, cleaning garbage out of both dugouts, and making sure the bases, umpire equipment and other items are properly put away.
- Pre-game warm-ups – If the field on which a game is about to be played is available, the home team is permitted to use the field for batting practice. HOWEVER, all batting practice activities must cease one-half (1/2) hour prior to the time the game is scheduled to begin. At that time, the home team is permitted to take infield/outfield practice for 10 minutes, followed by the visiting team taking infield/outfield practice for 10 minutes. The home team is not 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 – In all Leagues except the Instructional Leagues, the winning and losing team coaches shall report to the League Director the following on the same day as the game is played, or as soon as practicable thereafter or as otherwise directed in the appendix for a particular division:
a) Final score
b) Names of pitchers used by both teams and the number of innings pitched by each
c) The names of any “drafted” players used.
- Forfeitures – No game may be started unless both teams have at least eight (8) players present [seven (7) players in the Pony League]. The games shall be declared a forfeit if a team does not have eight (8) players [seven (7) players in the Pony League] fifteen (15) minutes after the scheduled start of the game. However, even if a forfeit is declared, the game should still be played “unofficially” 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 the League to remain under these circumstances.
III. PLAYER PARTICIPATION
- Batters – the batting order is to include ALL PLAYERS PRESENT for the game. Players arriving after a game begins are to be added at the end of the batting order.
- 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, unless the coach is disciplining the latter player. (Note: see Appendix 5 for exception pertaining to Pony League).
c) Pitchers, once relieved, may not pitch again in the same game. However, pitchers may be assigned another 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.
- “Drafting” players – A maximum of three (3) players may be “drafted” from other teams in order to ensure a roster of nine (9) players for a given game. Players must be registered players in the League and may be selected from other teams within the same League or players can be asked to “play up” from other Leagues based on their ability to compete with older players. 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 (9) 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 in all leagues except the Pony League:
a) Instructional League players (1st and 2nd grade) may NOT “play up”
b) Any player who “plays ups” must be in the “older” grade of his League (e.g. only 4th grade Minor Leaguers can be “drafted” to play for a Major League team).
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 Director 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
Pony League rules regarding “drafting players:
a) Pony League “draftees” can be 7th or 8th graders from any of the participating towns in our Pony Rec pogram. Starting in 2015, a list of players actively interested in being contacted to play as “draftees” will be maintained by the league and made available to coaches.
b) “Drafted” players must:
i) NEVER pitch, under any circumstances
ii) ALWAYS play the minimum number of innings – true roster players should receive preferential treatment
iii) ALWAYS shall be placed in the batting order behind every roster player present at the time the teams exchange the official lineups.
f) “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 Director will review the circumstances and decide whether drafted players will be permitted to play.
g) No player may be “drafted” more than three (3) times for the same team
- 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 coach is responsible for controlling his team on the bench and on the fields. A coach 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.
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.
- Coaches and players are expected to shout encouragement to their teammates. Shouting at the other team or the umpire is prohibited. Uses of improper language may result in immediate dismissal from the playing field.
- 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.
- Individuals permitted inside the field of play are: the umpires, coaches and individual team members. 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 and individual team members.
- All players shall wear their uniform hat with the bills forward and shall keep their shirts tucked in.
- At the conclusion of a game, both teams and their coaches are expected to line up and shake the hands of the opposing players and coaches.
- 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.
- 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:
b) The team manager should counsel with the player and his or her parents regarding the reasons behind the decision.
c) The manager should immediately notify the League Director.
d) The League Director should discuss the situation with the player’s parents and explore the reasons behind the decision not to play.
- The League Director will assign one (1) or two (2) umpires to each game. Umpires will be adults who are certified, or will be young men who have been trained as umpires. 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, coach or spectator from a game.
- If an umpire fails to show up for a game or if he does a bad job of umpiring, the coach should report this fact 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 our coaches to put these errors into proper perspective and act as role models for the young people on their teams.
VII. EQUIPMENT AND SAFETY
- Players, managers and 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, base runners, and player coaches MUST wear a protective helmet. Batters are encouraged to wear face guards. HOWEVER, not all towns in each League require the use of face guards for batters. Coaches are required to check with their League Directors regarding the face guard requirements applicable to their players.
- All players are to remain in the dugout unless in the field, at bat, on deck, or coaching.
- The only people allowed in dugouts are the players, coaches, managers, umpires and one (1) official scorekeeper.
- 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 coaches or players 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 mask.
- Only League approved equipment is to be used in games and during practices. Players can use their own equipment as long as it is compatible with League approved equipment.
- Composite bats are permitted only when approved specifically by Little League Baseball. Lists of approved bats are regularly updated and available from the official Little League organization website at http://www.littleleague.org/learn/equipment/approvedcompbatssmall.htm. Maximum bat diameter is 2¼ inches. Maximum length is 33 inches. There are no restrictions on weight/length differential. (Note: see Appendix V for exception pertaining to Pony League length and differential restrictions only)
- Players are permitted to wear any type of baseball glove or footwear (except metal cleats).
- All catchers must wear a mask, catcher’s helmet, chest protector, shin guards and a protective cup.
- All players are encouraged to wear a protective cup.
- All coaches MUST BE CERTIFIED to be in the dugout or on the field of play.
- 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
- GAME – The “mercy” or “10-run” rules will not be in effect. “Mercy” rules will be in effect for innings in some Leagues. Consult the appropriate appendix.
a) Field Dimensions – consult the Appendices for the proper field dimensions for your League. In all cases, the distances are measured from the rear point of home plate (closest to the catcher). The distances for first and third base are measured from home plate to the rear of each base (closest to the outfield). The distance to second base is measured from home plate to the center of the base. The pitching distance is measured from home plate to the front edge of the pitching rubber.
a) Use of unapproved bats – Umpires will take primary responsibility for monitoring unapproved bats. If an opposing head coach believes a batter is attempting to use an unapproved bat, he/she must request that the umpire check the bat BEFORE it is used. Only head coaches are allowed to request that umpires suspend the game temporarily to check a bat. If an upproved bat is used and then it is discovered afterwards, the umpire will prohibit the bat from being used for the remainder of the game, but any result from the at-bat will stand “as is”. IMPORTANT NOTE: In an effort to prioritize safety above all else, it is expected that coaches, parents and players will be vigilant about using only league approved bats. Any coach, parent or player who attempts to violate the rules will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action by the league commissioners.
b) 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.
c) Ejected Player - If a player is removed from a game by the umpire due to a rules violation, his spot in the battng order will be skipped and not recorded as an out.
- BASE RUNNING:
a) Pinch running – is NOT ALLOWED except for the following exceptions:
i) In the event of a player injury or illness, however, this player must leave the game and cannot return unless both managers agree.
ii) 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.
b) Sliding – Head first sliding is not permitted “going to the bag”. Head first sliding is permitted “going back to the bag”. Violaton of the rule is an automatic out.
Official rules relating to interference and obstruction are reaffirmed. Application of the sliding rule is a judgment call by the umpire and is not subject to appeal. The following comments interpret the sliding rule for recreational play:
i) A runner must slide or attempt to get around a fielder when a tag play is developing at any base. Any runner crashing into either the catcher or a baseman is automatically out and, if the act is deemed by the umpire to be intentional, the runner is to be ejected from the game.
ii) If there is no collision, there can be no violation of the sliding rule. However, if the catcher or fielder abandons his positions in anticipation of a collision with a runner, the umpire may rule interference by the runner.
a) For the purposes of determining eligibility to pitch, the baseball week begins on Sunday and ends on Saturday night. However, the end of one week and the beginning of another has no effect on the Days of Rest requirements. For example, if a player pitches on Saturday and again on Sunday, he is ineligible to pitch until Wednesday (at the earliest, depending upon the number of innings pitched and the League) despite the fact that Sunday was the first day of a new week.
b) As soon as a pitcher delivers one pitch to a batter in any inning, he is considered to have pitched ONE (1) COMPLETE INNING.
c) A pitcher hitting 3 batters in one inning must be removed as a pitcher from that game.
d) MAXIMUM INNINGS – Pitchers will be subject to DAILY and WEEKLY limits on the number of innings pitched in games IN ALL LEAGUES IN WHICH THEY PARTICIPATE (travel, club, school leagues, etc). For practical purposes due to the proliferation of club, school and other other non-League teams, the League Directors will only actively monitor innings pitched within the League and any resulting violations. Players, parents, and coaches should be strongly encouraged to communicate accurate information regarding number of innings pitched to their League coaches. Violations are strongly discouraged in order to protect the health of players.
d) Violations: Each violation of this rule will result in the player being prohibited from pitching in two consecutive League games involving his team. During each game, it is the responsibility of the both head coaches to monitor innings pitched by each pitcher and to discuss, in good sportsmanship, any potential pitching rules violations. If an opposing head coach believes a pitcher is attempting to pitch more than is permitted under League rules, he/she must request that the umpire check with the other head coach PRIOR to that player pitching any further. Only head coaches are allowed to request that umpires suspend the game temporarily to discuss a potential pitching violation. If a pitcher is used in a manner that exceeds what is permitted and then it is discovered afterwards, the umpire will prohibit the pitcher from being used for the remainder of the game, but any result from previous pitching will stand “as is”. IMPORTANT NOTE: In an effort to prioritize safety above all else, it is expected that coaches, parents and players will be vigilant about adhering to pitching rules, inclusive of non-league innings pitched. Any coach, parent or player who violates the rules will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action by the league commissioners.
e) SEE THE APPENDICES FOR THE PITCHING RULES APPLICABLE TO YOUR LEAGUE.