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 > Little League Online > Learn More > Newsletters > Coach's Box Newsletter > 2006 > Coach's Box - October 2006 > Pitch Count

Pitch Count


Volume I, No. 7  

   October 2006


Ac-count-ability: Little League Volunteers Want to Know Who Will Be Responsible for Counting Pitches
By Chris Downs
Media Relations Manager
Little League International

Little League International’s Board of Directors voted in August to replace the baseball program’s innings-pitched rules with a pitch count to determine the eligibility of Little League pitchers. From the point that the decision was made, an overriding question has been: Who is responsible for counting the pitches?

In the weeks since the announcement, Little League International has blitzed its volunteers with a myriad of materials designed to inform and educate local leagues on the rules that will be in place for the upcoming 2007 season. That effort will continue in the months ahead.

Recently, Nick Caringi, director of operations for Little League Baseball and Softball, was a guest on “Ask Little League,” Little League’s on-line chat series. Of the more than 275 questions submitted, Mr. Caringi fielded many queries about who on the local level will be tasked with charting the number of pitches thrown in a game.

The full transcript of Mr. Caringi’s remarks can be found here: http://www.littleleague.org/askll/06octsession.asp

Many of the questioners included mention of an appreciation for the pitch count, but wanted to know the best method for adhering to the rules given the structure of their local leagues.

Mr. Caringi offered a variety of suggestions to help ease the transition and highlighted resources currently, and soon to be, available to local leagues.

Reflecting on the success of the Pitch Count Pilot Program that Little League International made available to all of its leagues for the 2005 season, Mr. Caringi said nearly 500 leagues opted into the program and devised a wide array of possibilities for counting pitches.

Several approaches and ideas have been pooled and many effective methods focused on the game’s scorekeeper being responsible for the tally.

In a response to Brian, a local Little League vice president from Sharon, Pa., Mr. Caringi said, “… Since scorekeepers already keep track of balls and strikes (as a backup to the umpire), the only additional duties will be to mark down the number of foul balls hit with two strikes, and to total up the number of pitches after each inning for each pitcher.”

Regarding the burden already placed on the scorekeeper to follow the happenings in a game, and now adding the responsibility of counting pitches, Mr. Caringi said in his reply to Eric, a local Little league information officer from Springfield, Va., “ … (Some leagues) found it best to assign the duty to the scorekeeper. Others assigned it to the managers, but that requires the league to be very trusting of its managers. Still others found it easier to simply assign the duty to an assistant to the scorekeeper, who tracks only the pitches. Some even had the base umpire do the counting.”

Dozens of scenarios and solutions have been discussed when talking about establishing an accurate pitch count. That is why, as Mr. Caringi explained in his response to Jim, a local league president in Medford, N.Y., “Your league makes the final decision, based on your own situation. Little League will be following up with lots of advice. Ultimately, your league has to decide which (one) person has the official count.”

Some of the tools to count and track pitches (including foul balls) are already available as Mr. Caringi explained in his reply to Phil, a district safety officer and secretary in South Holland, Ill.

“Your league could use hand-held counters (available in many places, such as an office supply store – the ones used to count inventory),” Mr. Caringi said. “Or, your league could have a simple sheet of paper used for this purpose, or check off pitches in a scorebook.”

Many of the comments offered by those participating in the “Ask Little League” session said that their local leagues have already begun implementing the new rule in their fall season, or are currently making plans to comply. Leagues also have looked at the potential of elaborating on the pitch count by incorporating local league rules that provide fairness and accountability to both teams.

Jim, a local Little League information officer in North Miami Beach, Fla., said, “Some of us down here in Florida have already promulgated a local rule that requires the home team for each game to provide an official scorekeeper/pitch counter, and requires all teams to keep careful track in their scorebooks of total pitch count for each pitcher in each game.”

Whether an official rule or a local rule, leagues still must be able to track the information in a uniform manner, which prompted Kathi, a local Little League secretary from Henderson, Nev., to ask about the suggested documents to record and verify the pitch counts.

“That is an important point to make,” Mr. Caringi said. “Over the past two years, we’ve had several hundred leagues involved in a Pitch Count Pilot Program. We knew those leagues could come up with some pretty creative ideas, so we left it up to them. Over the next few months, we will be giving you free access to the best of the materials those leagues created, so the transition can be made easier, and will take the guesswork out of the pitch count regulation.”

All of the current information on the pitch count can be found here: http://www.littleleague.org/media/pitch_count_10-03-06.asp

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