Little League® Baseball and Softball is all about opportunity. The opportunity for children to learn the games of baseball and softball, for communities to come together, and for families to forge life-long memories, both on the field and off. And, one of the core ways Little League promotes opportunity is through its mandatory play regulations for both regular season and tournament play.

For many players, part of their Little League experience is playing in the Little League International Tournament. Tournament team players are chosen with the intent that their individual skill can assist with the success of the team. To this end, Little League International expects its tournament team managers to respect the decision of the players to make themselves available to the team by ensuring that each child plays a minimum amount in each game.

Beginning with the 2018 Tournament season, Tournament Rule 9, which fully outlines the mandatory play requirements, has been revised to emphasize and elevate the importance of the player’s experience and provide a better structure for managers to ensure all players meet their mandatory play requirements, and that game officials can support them in those efforts. To this end, a manager’s failure/refusal to insert players into the line-up as outlined in the rule shall result in immediate ejection of the manager and removal for the remainder of the International Tournament.

Below is the explanation of the new rule, and answers to common questions about the rule, which is in place for all games played in this year’s Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball® International Tournament. All Little League volunteers and parents are encouraged to fully review the rule and may submit questions through LittleLeague.org.

Tournament Rule 9 (Mandatory Play) [Baseball, Softball]
Divisions: 8- to 10-Year Old Division Baseball and Softball, 9- to 11-Year-Old Division Baseball and Softball, Little League Baseball and Softball, Intermediate (50-70) Baseball Division, and Junior League Baseball and Softball.

Synopsis: A manager’s failure/refusal to insert players into the line-up as outlined in the new rule shall result in immediate ejection of the manager and removal for the remainder of the International Tournament, without replacement. The umpire-in-chief or other individual designated by the game Tournament Director in consultation with the official scorekeeper, shall advise both team managers, at the appropriate time as outlined in the new rule, of their obligation to insert all players who have not completed their mandatory play requirement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: If the manager fails to comply with Tournament Rule 9, does the UIC, designated official, scorekeeper, or game Tournament Director stop the game and notify the regional office/Tournament Committee even without a protest by the opposing manager?

A: Yes. The game shall be stopped and the potential violation shall be referred to the Regional Office and the Tournament Committee even without a protest being filed by the opposing team.

Q: Does the game Tournament Director remove the manager if he/she fails to follow the Mandatory Play rule, or should he/she follow the chain of command to the Tournament Committee for a determination of whether to remove the manager?

A: Only the Tournament Committee in Williamsport has the authority to remove the manager for not complying with Tournament Rule 9. If the Umpire-In-Chief (U.I.C.), designated official, scorekeeper, or game Tournament Director become aware of a potential violation, the game shall be stopped and the matter shall be referred to the Regional Office who will inform the Tournament Committee and will provide direction to suspend and remove. The Little League International Tournament Committee in Williamsport will provide the final, official decision.

Q: If a team ONLY has two adults on the team affidavit, and the manager is removed for violation of the Mandatory Play rule, is the team allowed to add another adult to the affidavit?

A: The manager removed by action of Tournament Committee may not be replaced. However, because the team did not originally appoint a second coach, it would be allowed to add an eligible coach to the team in the unfulfilled position, in accordance with Little League Tournament Rules and Guidelines.

Q: Is it the responsibility of the U.I.C., designated official, or game Tournament Director to verbalize to the managers prior to the game the penalty for violation of Tournament Rule 9?

A: The U.I.C., designated official, or game Tournament Director is to advise all managers, coaches, and umpires of the Tournament Rule 9 prior to the game. With that said, it is solely the manager’s responsibility to adhere to the rule.

Q: Must the violation of the Tournament Mandatory Play rule be deemed as “deliberate” for the manager removal penalty to apply?

A: All violations of Tournament Rule 9 are treated equally. However, the Little League International Tournament Committee reserves the right to impose additional penalties. However because the team did not originally appoint a second coach, it would be allowed to add an eligible coach to the team, in accordance with tournament guidelines governing the replacement of a player, manager, or coach.

Q: Is it the responsibility of the Tournament Director or tournament assistant at the game to verbalize to the managers prior to the game the penalty for violation of Tournament Rule 9?

A: The tournament director or district assistant at the game site is to advise all manager, coaches, and umpires of the Tournament Rule 9 prior to the game. With that said, it is solely the manager’s responsibility to adhere to the rule.

Q: Must the violation of the tournament Mandatory Play rule be deemed as “deliberate” for the manager removal penalty to apply?

A: All violations of Tournament Rule 9 are treated equally. However, the Little League International Tournament Committee reserves the right to impose additional penalties.