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 > Little League Online > Learn More > Newsletters > Coach's Box Newsletter > 2006 > Coach's Box - May 2006 > Behind the Plate - May 2006

Behind the Plate - May 2006


Volume 1, No. 5

  May 2006

Behind the Plate with Andy
By Andy Konyar
Umpire Consultant
Little League International

Ever have an opponent's base runner miss a base and you know the umpire saw it, but you were not sure how to get your defense to make a proper appeal?  Here are the steps necessary for your defense to properly appeal a base running infraction: 


            What constitutes a legal appeal?  There are three elements which must happen in sequence: 1) a base running infraction; 2) some kind of unmistakable evidence that the defensive team recognizes the infraction; and, 3) a legal, live-ball tag of the offender or the base where the infraction occurred.

            Infractions.  You can't have a successful appeal play without a base running error.  There are two kinds of errors: a runner leaves his/her base before a batted ball is touched (and subsequently caught) in flight; a runner passes and fails to touch a base while advancing or retreating.

            Unmistakable evidence.  To retire a runner on an appeal, the defense has to know the runner did something wrong.  There must be some kind of evidence the umpire can observe that leads him/her to believe the defense is aware of the infraction.  The easiest, clearest evidence comes when the defensive player with the ball tells the umpire what happened.  But that's not really necessary.  Anything the umpire observes that convinces him/her a defensive player is aware of the base running infraction satisfies the requirement.

            Live-ball tag.  This may be the greatest point of appeal-play confusion.  Not that a tag has to be made, but that the ball must be alive. 

            Remember, the defense has the option.  They can tag the offending runner or they can tag the base where the infraction took place.  As long as the tag is made with a live ball, you will rule on the merits of the appeal.  (If the defense executes an appeal with a dead ball, your proper response is, "The ball is dead."  No signal, just the neutral statement.)

            Of course, when "Time" has been called or when the ball is dead there is only one way to make it alive.  The pitcher must hold the ball and stand in contact with the rubber, then the plate umpire will declare, "Play."  If the defense then wants to make an appeal they have to get the ball to the runner or the base and make the gag.  Yes, the best way is for the pitcher to step back off the rubber, pivot foot first, However, the rules allow that the pitcher is not required to step off before throwing to a base to make a play, don't err by incorrectly ruling a illegal pitch or balk.  Umpires cannot "help" the fielder.  All he/she can do is give him/her every opportunity to identify the guilty runner.  Accept the runner's uniform number, his/her name, what order he/she was in (the second runner missed the base), anything that legitimately tells you the defense knows which runner missed the base.  You can even ask the defense which runner missed that base? 

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