Rule 4 – Section 1 – STARTING A GAME
4-1-1 The home coach shall decide whether the grounds and other conditions are suitable for starting the game. After the game starts, the umpires are sole judges as to whether conditions are fit for play and as to whether or not conditions are suitable for starting the second game of a scheduled double-header (two games between the same teams during the same day).
4-1-2 If there are unusual conditions, such as spectators or obstacles too near the playing field, the home coach shall propose special ground rules. If sanctioned by the visiting team, these shall be in force. If the teams cannot agree, the umpires shall formulate ground rules. Ground rules do not supersede a rules book rule. All special rules shall be announced.
- The field should be clearly marked. Markings should include poles along the foul lines at least 210 feet past first and third and vertical foul line markings on any wall that limits the outfield.
- When a fair or foul fly comes down near a stand or fence, 7-4-1d applies. If there is a screen behind the catcher or other permanent obstruction in front of the stand, a batted ball that goes behind these becomes dead and cannot be caught. It is recommended that no such obstruction be less than 60 feet from the diamond.
- Wild pitches, overthrows and batted balls that go over, through or wedges in a fence are governed by Rule 8-3-3. If the field has unusual obstructions, ground rules should, as nearly as possible, be similar to this rule.
- For a special field condition, such as a drain pipe that makes a spot where it is impossible or very difficult for a fielder to retrieve the ball, the ball should become dead if it goes to that spot and each runner’s advance should be limited to two bases.
- In an unfenced field where cars are parked along the foul lines, umpires should consider these the same as bleachers and ball becomes dead if it bounces into the line of cars. They should anticipate such a situation and announce the ground rule in advance.
4-1-3 Before game time, the home team and then the visiting team shall deliver their respective batting orders in duplicate to the umpire-in-chief. The umpire then shall permit inspection by both head coaches and/or captains if available. Each team’s lineup card shall list a minimum of nine players to start the game (see 4-4-1f for game to continue with less than nine players). The substitution regulations, as in Rule 3, are then in effect.
- The umpire-in-chief shall receive verification from both head coaches that all participants are properly equipped and emphasize to the coaches and captains that all participants are expected to exhibit good sporting behavior throughout the game(s).
4-1-4 The visiting team shall be the first to take its turn at bat. On a neutral field or by agreement, either team may be designated as Home Team.
4-1-5 The game begins when the umpire calls “Play” after all infielders, pitcher, catcher and batter are in position to start the game.