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 > Little League Online > Learn More > Newsletters > Coach's Box Newsletter > 2010 > Coach's Box - July > Umpire Article

Umpire Article

Volume 5, No. 6 - July 2010

Mandatory Play and Substitution

By Mike Messick, Volunteer of the Year 2010

These two rules are completely different and unique rules that are always getting entwined whether it is regular or tournament season. They also are both dramatically changed under the tournament rules so the umpire/s should and must know what they are, the differences between them and how to enforce them.

Let's take mandatory play first, which is Tournament rule number 9. This states that in 9-10; 10-11; Little League and Junior League divisions that every player on a team roster that is eligible and at the game site must participate in the game for a minimum of three (3) consecutive defensive outs and bat at least one (1) time.

This is different from the regular season rule where all players, from the Senior Division down, at the game site must participate in the game for a minimum of six (6) defensive outs and bat at least one (1) time. In the Senior or Big League Divisions, Mandatory play does not apply during tournament season.

There is no exception to this rule unless the game is shortened for any reason such as weather, darkness, 10-run rule, etc. A game that finishes after the top of the final inning because the home team does need to bat in their half of the final inning is not considered a shortened game. The manager is responsible for fulfilling the mandatory play requirements and if one or more of the players do not meet the mandatory play requirements this is a basis for a protest.

Unlike the regular season, there is no requirement during tournament play that a player that does not meet mandatory play has to start the next game and make up what he/she missed for that game and meet his/her mandatory play requirements for the next game before being removed for a substitute.

It is highly recommended that all the children get all their mandatory play.

If one or more players did not meet his/her mandatory play requirements and it is protested to the umpires before the umpires leave the playing field, the Tournament Director will place a call to the Regional Center who will contact Little League International. Through the action of the Tournament Committee in South Williamsport, Pa., the team's manager will be suspended for the next two scheduled tournament games, even if the next two games are at a higher tournament level.

Any manager suspended under this rule cannot be present at the game site nor have any contact with the team prior to, or during the game. The team cannot bring in or add another adult in the dugout to replace the suspended manager during the next two games. So if they had three adults in the dugout before the suspension, they can have only two adults in the dugout for the next two games.

If the Tournament Committee feels that the manager or coach is making a travesty of the game by causing players to intentionally perform poorly to extend or shorten the game, or if the team fails to meet these requirements more than once, or a manager willfully and knowingly disregards this rule, the Tournament Committee can impose further penalties such as further suspension, forfeiture of a game and/or disqualification of the team, manager or coaches. If an umpire sees that a team is intentionally doing something to either shorten to extend the game, the umpire/s should stop the game and warn the managers that this will not be tolerated.

Keeping track of who has met mandatory play is not the umpires responsibility but the umpires should know this rule and the home plate umpire, at least from District through State level, should receive lineup cards and work out a system so that they can show what inning a player has played, been substituted for, or has re-entered the game. This can help to ward off any problems and can serve as a back up to the official scorer, if he/she has not made the proper notations in the scorebook.

Substitution/Reentry which is Rule 10 in the Tournament rules, replaces the regular season rule 3.03 for all levels of tournament play. The substitution/re-entry rules for tournament differ very dramatically from the regular season rules. In Junior League and below, any player who has been removed for a substitute may re-enter the game but must occupy the position in the batting order as the player he/she has replaced.

The starting player and his/her substitute are locked into or as some say "married" to their position in the batting order and they cannot both be in the game at the same time. This is different than regular season rules when only a starter had re-entry rights.

A player in the starting lineup does not have to meet the mandatory play requirements before being removed for a substitute but a substitute entering the game for the first time may not be removed from the game before he/she has met the mandatory play requirements.

After the starter and his/her substitute have both met the mandatory play requirements, they both now can be entered and re-entered freely by the manager. One could possibly play defense and when their batting spot in the order came up the other could bat and then the first player could go back and play defense in the next inning. If the manager can make it work and all the players get their mandatory play, the manager could have three players locked into ("married to") one batting order position.

Another situation that could occur is that if there are two players occupying the same position in the batting order and they both have met mandatory play and one of them becomes a pitcher (relief pitcher), he/she can be removed for a substitute batter (the other player in that batting order position) and then can re-enter the game as pitcher once, provided the player was not physically replaced on the mound. An example would be: player A (starter) and player B (player A's substitute) are occupying the fifth batting order position and both have met their mandatory play requirements. In the fifth inning player A becomes the pitcher and is scheduled to bat in the bottom half of the inning. Player B bats for player A and since both have met mandatory and player A was not physically replaced on the mound, player A can return to the mound and pitch the sixth inning. This example does not pertain to Senior or Big League.

In Senior and Big League any player in the starting lineup, including the designated hitter, who has been removed for a substitute may re-enter the game ONCE, provided he/she occupies the same batting position as he/she did in the starting lineup. A substitute (non-starter) may not re-enter the game in any position once that player (substitute) has been removed from the lineup. This is totally different for Senior League from regular season.

Umpires must make sure that they do not take projected substitutions. Offensive substitutions can only be made at the time the offensive player is at-bat or on base. Defensive substitutions can only be made while the team is on defense, such as when the team is taking the field in their defensive half of the inning or while they are on defense during that half inning.

Umpires must pay special attention to Rule 7.14 (Special Pinch Runner) especially when the manager wants to run for a player. When the manager requests time out to put in a pinch runner, the umpire should specifically ask if it is a 7.14 Special Pinch Runner or a substitution. It is very important that the umpire ask this and is clear on what the manager wants to do. If the umpire lists it on the lineup card as a substitution, then those two players are locked into that batting order position which could be or lead to an improper substitution.

The umpire should note on his/her lineup card that this a 7.14 and who the special pinch runner ran for because by rule the team can only use one special pinch runner per inning and it has to be someone who is not physically in the lineup at that time. A team can also only special pinch run for a player once per game. So this is another reason that is important that the home plate umpire keep and use lineup cards.

An improper substitution is a basis for a protest but a protest involving an improper substitution must be made and resolved before the next pitch or play. The umpire/s needs to be on top of any situation involving substitutions to prevent an improper substitution and to know whether it is an improper substitution (which he/she should prevent from happening); an unannounced substitution or a batting out of order. Again this is why it is so important for the home plate umpire to receive and use lineup cards properly throughout the game.

If you as the umpire can fully understand the differences of these two rules and apply these two rules correctly especially where they entwine your games will flow along smoothly with less delays and hassles, and they will finish in a timely fashion.

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