Official Rules(view all)

4.00 Starting and Ending the Game

4.01 – The umpires shall proceed directly to home plate where they shall be met by the managers of the opposing teams, just preceding the established time to begin the game. In sequence-

(a) The home team manager shall give the batting order in duplicate to the Umpire-in-Chief;

(b) Next, the visiting manager shall give the batting order in duplicate to the Umpire-in-Chief;

(c) The Umpire-in-Chief shall make certain that the original and duplicate copies are the same, then provide a copy of each batting order to the opposing manager. The original copy retained by the umpire shall be the official batting order;

(d) As soon as the home team’s batting order is handed to the Umpire-in-Chief, the umpires are in charge of the playing field and from that moment shall have sole authority to determine when a game shall be called, halted, or resumed on account of weather or the conditions of the playing field.

NOTE 1: In Tee Ball and non-competitive Minor Leagues, all players on the roster may be given a defensive position. Only one player may occupy the catcher’s position.

NOTE 2: Rostered players who arrive at the game site after a game begins may be inserted in the lineup, if the manager so chooses. This applies even when a suspended game is resumed at a later date.

4.02 – The players of the home team shall take their defensive positions, the first batter of the visiting team shall take a position in the batter’s box, the umpire shall call “Play” and the game shall start.

4.03 – When the ball is put in play at the start of, or during a game, all fielders other than the catcher shall be in fair territory.

(a) The catcher shall by stationed in the catcher’s box. The catcher may leave that position at any time to catch a pitch or make a play except that when the batter is being given an intentional base on balls, the catcher must stand with both feet within the lines of the catcher’s box until the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand.

PENALTY: Illegal pitch – ball called on the batter (see Rule 8.05).

[Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior/Big League penalty: Balk with runner or runners on base.]

(b) The pitcher, while in the act delivering the ball to the batter, shall take the legal position.

(c) Except the pitcher and the catcher, any fielder may be stationed anywhere in fair territory.

4.04 – The batting order shall be followed throughout the game unless a player is substituted for another. Substitutes must take the place of the replaced player’s position in the batting order except as covered by Rule 3.03. A league may adopt a policy of a continuous batting order that will include all players on the team roster present for the game batting in order. If this option is adopted, each player would be required to bat in his/her respective spot in the batting order. However, a player may be entered and/or re-entered defensively in the game anytime provided he/she meets the requirements of mandatory play. NOTE 1: The continuous batting order is mandatory for all Tee Ball and Minor League Divisions. NOTE 2: For the Tee Ball and Minor League Divisions (and when the continuous batting order is adopted for other divisions), when a player is injured, becomes ill, or must leave the game site after the start of the game, the team will skip over him/her when his/her time at bat comes up without penalty. If the injured, ill, or absent player returns, he/she is merely inserted into their original spot in the batting order and the game continues. Also, if a player arrives late to a game site, if the manager chooses to enter him/her in the lineup (see Rule 4.01 NOTE), he/she would be added to the end of the current lineup.

4.05 – The offensive team shall station two base coaches on the field during its time at bat, one near first base and one near third base. The coaches shall not leave their respective dugouts until the pitcher has completed his/her preparatory pitches to the catcher. Base coaches shall –

(a) be eligible players in the uniform of their team; a manager and/or coach. Both base coaches may be managers or coaches.

(b) be a manager or coach only if there is at least one other adult manager or coach in the dugout.

(c) remain within the base coaches boxes at all times, except as provided in Rule 7.11;

A.R. – Once an inning starts, coaches shall not alternate between the first and third base coaches boxes.

(d) talk to members of their own team only.

An offending base coach shall be removed from the base coach’s box.

4.06 – No manager, coach, or player, shall at any time, whether from the bench or the playing field or elsewhere –

(a) incite, or try to incite, by word or sign, a demonstration by spectators;

(b) use language which will in any manner refer to or reflect upon opposing players, manager, coach, an umpire, or spectators;

(c) make any move calculated to cause the pitcher to commit an illegal pitch [a balk in Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior/Big League];

(d) take a position in the batter’s line of vision, with the deliberate intent to distract the batter.

The umpire may first warn the player, coach, and/or manager. If continued, remove the player, coach, and/or manager from the game or bench. If such action causes an illegal pitch [a balk in Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior/Big League], it shall be nullified.

4.07 – When a manager, coach, or player is ejected from a game, they shall leave the field immediately and take no further part in that game. They may not sit in the stands and may not be recalled. A manager or coach ejected from a game must not be present at the game site for the remainder of that game. Any manager, coach, or player ejected from a game is suspended for his or her team’s next physically played game and may not be in attendance at the game site from which they were suspended. This includes pregame and postgame activities.

4.08 – When the occupants of a player’s bench show violent disapproval of an umpire’s decision, the umpire shall first give warning that such disapproval shall cease. If such action continues –

PENALTY: The umpire shall order the offender out of the game and away from the spectators’ area. If the umpire is unable to detect the offender or offenders, the bench may be cleared of all players. The manager of the offending team shall have the privilege of recalling to the playing field only those players needed for substitution in the game.

4.09 – HOW A TEAM SCORES

(a) One run shall be scored each time a runner legally advances to and touches first, second, third, and home base before three players are retired to end the inning.

EXCEPTIONS: A run is not scored if the runner advances to home base during a play in which the third out is made (1) by the batter-runner before touching first base; (2) by any runner being forced out; or (3) by a preceding runner who is declared out because that runner failed to touch one of the bases (appeal play).

A.R. – One out, Jones on third, Smith on first and Brown flies out to right field for the second out. Jones tags up and scores after the catch. Smith attempted to return to first but the right fielder’s throw beat Smith to the base for the third out. But Jones scored before the throw to catch Smith reached first base. Hence, Jones’ run counts. It was not a force play.

(b) When the winning run is scored in the last half-inning of a regulation game, or in the last half of an extra inning, as the result of a base on balls, hit batter, or any other play with the bases full which forces the runner on third to advance, the umpire shall not declare the game ended until the runner forced to advance from third has touched home base and the batter-runner has touched first base.

4.10

(a) A regulation game consists of six innings [Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior/Big League: seven innings], unless extended because of a tie score, or shortened (1) because the home team needs none of its half of the sixth inning [Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior/Big League: seventh] or only a fraction of it; or (2) because the umpire calls the game.

(b) If the score is tied after six completed innings (Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior/Big League: seven innings), play shall continue until (1) the visiting team has scored more total runs than the home team at the end of a completed inning; or (2) the home team scores the winning run in an uncompleted inning.

(c) If a game is called, it is a regulation game:

  1. If four innings [Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior/Big League: five innings] have been completed;
  2. If the home team has scored more runs in three and one-half innings [Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior/Big League: four and one-half innings] than the visiting team has scored in four completed half-innings;
  3. If the home team scores one or more runs in its half of the fourth inning [Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior/Big League: fifth inning] to tie the score.

(d) If a game is called before it has become a regulation game, but after one (1) or more innings have been played, it shall be resumed exactly where it left off. NOTE: All records, including pitching, shall be counted.

(e) If after four (4) innings [Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior/Big League: five innings], three and one-half innings [Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior/Big League: four and one-half innings] if the home team is ahead, one team has a lead of ten (10) runs or more, the manager of the team with the least runs shall concede the victor to the opponent. NOTE: (1) If the visiting team has a lead of ten (10) runs or more, the home team must bat in its half of the inning. (2) The local league may adopt the option of not utilizing this rule.

(f) Tee Ball: The local league may determine appropriate game length but shall not exceed 6 innings. It is recommended that Tee Ball games be 4 innings or 1-1/2 hour time limit or less.

4.11 – The score of a regulation game is the total number of runs scored by each team at the moment the game ends.

(a) The game ends when the visiting team completes its half of the sixth inning [Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior/Big League: seventh inning] if the home team is ahead.

(b) The game ends when the sixth inning [Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior/Big League: seventh inning] is completed, if visiting team is ahead.

(c) If the home team scores the winning run in its half of the sixth inning [Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior/Big League: seventh inning], or its half of an extra inning after a tie, the game ends immediately when the winning run is scored.

NOTE: Once a game becomes regulation and it is called with the home team taking the lead in an incomplete inning, the game ends with the home team the winner.

EXCEPTION: If the last batter in a game hits a home run out of the playing field, the batter-runner and all runners on base are permitted to score, in accordance with the base-running rules, and the game ends when the batter-runner touches home plate.

A.R. – The batter hits a home run out of the playing field to win the game in the last half of the sixth [Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior/Big League: seventh inning] or an extra inning, but is called out for passing a preceding runner. The game ends immediately when the winning run is scored.

(d) A called game ends at the moment the umpire terminates play.

EXCEPTION: If the game is called during an incomplete inning, the game ends at the end of the last previous completed inning in each of the following situations:

  1. The visiting team scores one or more runs to tie the score in the incomplete inning, and the home team does not score in the incomplete inning.
  2. The visiting team scores one or more runs to take the lead in the incomplete inning, and the home team does not tie the score or retake the lead in the incomplete inning.

(e) A regulation game that is tied after four [Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior/Big League: five] or more completed innings and halted by the umpire, shall be resumed from the exact point that play was halted. The game shall continue in accordance with Rule 4.10(a) and 4.10(b).

NOTE: When a TIE game is halted, the pitcher of record may continue pitching in the same game on any subsequent date provided said pitcher has observed the required days of rest for his/her particular age group. For scorekeeping purposes, it shall be considered the same game, and all batting, fielding, and pitching records will count.

LITTLE LEAGUE (MAJOR)/MINOR LEAGUE EXAMPLE:

Rule 4.11

1      2      3      4      5      6

VISITORS              0      0      0      4      1

HOME                   0      0      0      5

Game called in top of 5th inning on account of rain. Score reverts to last completed inning (4th) and the home team is the winner 5 to 4.

INTERMEDIATE (50-70) DIVISION/JUNIOR/SENIOR/BIG LEAGUE EXAMPLE:

Rule 4.11

1      2      3      4      5      6      7

VISITORS             0      0      0      0      4      1

HOME                  0      0      0      0      5

Game is called in top of 6th inning on account of rain. Score reverts to last completed inning (5th) and the home team is the winner 5 to 4.

4.12 – TIE games halted due to weather, curfew, or light failure shall be resumed from the exact point at which they were halted in the original game. It can be completed preceding the next scheduled game between the same teams. A player may not pitch in more than one game in a day. (EXCEPTION: Junior and Senior League: If the player pitched 30 or fewer pitches in the first game, that player may pitch in the second game on that day. In the Big League Division a player may be used as a pitcher in up to two games in a day. See Regulation VI.) The lineup and batting order of both teams shall be the same as the lineup and batting order at the moment the game was halted, subject to the rules governing substitution. Any player may be replaced by a player who was not in the game prior to halting the original game. No player once removed before the game was halted may be returned to the lineup unless covered by Rule 3.03. NOTE: When a TIE game is halted, the pitcher of record may continue pitching in the same game on any subsequent date provided said pitcher has observed the required days of rest for his/her particular age group. For scorekeeping purposes, it shall be considered the same game, and all batting, fielding, and pitching records will count.

LITTLE LEAGUE (MAJOR)/MINOR LEAGUE EXAMPLE:

Rule 4.12

Tie games halted due to weather, curfew, or light failure shall be resumed from the exact point at which they were halted in the original game.

1      2      3      4      5      6

VISITORS             0      0      0      0      4      5

HOME                  0      0      0      0      4

Game called in top of 6th inning, visiting team batting with two out, no base runners – this is a tie game. Resume the game in the top of the 6th, visiting team at bat, two out.

INTERMEDIATE (50-70) DIVISION/JUNIOR/SENIOR/BIG LEAGUE EXAMPLE:

Rule 4.12

Tie games halted due to weather, curfew, or light failure shall be resumed from the exact point at which they were halted in the original game.

1      2      3      4      5      6      7

VISITORS             0      0      0      0      0      4      5

HOME                  0      0      0      0      0      4

Game called in top of 7th inning, visiting team batting with two out, no base runners – this is a tie game. Resume the game in the top of the 7th, visiting team at bat, two out.

4.13 – Double Headers

Little League (Major) Division: A team may play one (1) doubleheader in a calendar week. No team shall play three games in a day. (Exception under condition of Rule 4.12.)

Tee Ball and Minor League: No team shall be scheduled to play two games in one day. (See Rule 4.12).

Intermediate (50-70) Division/Junior/Senior/Big League: Doubleheaders are permitted.

4.14 – The Umpire-in-Chief shall order the playing field lights turned on whenever in such umpire’s opinion that darkness makes further play in daylight hazardous.

4.15 – A game may be forfeited by the Umpire-in-Chief of the game in progress to the opposing team when a team –

(a) being upon the field, refuses to start play within 10 minutes after the appointed hour for beginning the game, unless such delay, in the umpire’s judgment, is unavoidable;

(b) refuses to continue play unless the game was terminated by the umpire;

(c) fails to resume play, after the game was halted by the umpire, within one minute after the umpire has called “Play”;

(d) fails to obey within a reasonable time the umpire’s order to remove a player from the game;

(e) after warning by the umpire, willfully and persistently violates any rules of the game;

(f) employs tactics designed to delay, shorter or make a travesty of the game.

4.16 – If a game cannot be played because of the inability of either team to:

(a) place nine players on the field before the game begins, and/or,

(b) place at least one adult in the dugout as manager or acting manager, this shall not be grounds for automatic forfeiture, but shall be referred to the Board of Directors for a decision.

NOTE: A game may not be started with less than nine (9) players on each time, nor without at least one adult manager or subsitute manager.

4.17 – If during a game either team is unable to place nine (9) players on the field due to injury or ejection, the opposing manager shall select a player to re-enter the lineup. A player ejected from the game is not eligible for re-entry. If no players are available for re-entry, or if a team refuses to place nine (9) players on the field, this shall not be grounds for automatic forfeiture but shall be referred to the Board of Directors for a decision.

NOTE: A game may not be continued with less than nine (9) players on teach team.

4.18 – Forfeited games shall be so recorded in the scorebook and the book signed by the Umpire-in-Chief. A written report stating the reason for the forfeiture shall be sent to the league president within 24 hours, but failure of the umpire to file this report shall not affect the forfeiture.

4.19 – PROTESTING GAME

(a) Protest shall be considered only when based on the violation or interpretation of a playing rule, use of an ineligible pitcher or the use of an ineligible player. No protest shall be considered on a decision involving an umpire’s judgment. Equipment which does not meet specifications must be removed from the game. Exception: Illegal bat [see Rule 6.06(d)].

(b) The managers of contesting teams only shall have the right to protest a game (or in their absence, roaches). However, the manager or acting manager may not leave the dugout until receiving permission from an umpire.

(c) Protests shall be made as follows:

  1. The protesting manager shall immediately, and before any succeeding play begins, notify the umpire that the game is being played under protest.
  2. Following such notice the umpire shall consult with the other umpire(s). If the umpire is convinced that the decision is in conflict with the rules, the umpire shall reverse that decision. If, however, after consultation, the umpire is convinced that the decision is not in conflict with the rules, said umpire shall announce that the game is being played under protest. Failure of the umpire to make such announcement shall not affect the validity of the protest.

(d) Protest made due to the use of an ineligible pitcher or an ineligible player may be considered only if made to the umpire before the umpire(s) leave the field at the end of the game. Whenever it is found that an ineligible pitcher or ineligible player is being used, said pitcher shall be removed from the mound, or said player shall be removed from the game, and the game shall be continued under protest or not as the protesting manager decides.

(e) Any protest for any reason whatsoever must be submitted by the manager first to the umpire on the field of play and then in writing to the local league president within 24 hours. The Umpire-in-Chief shall also submit a report immediately.

(f) A committee composed of the president, player agent, league’s Umpire-in-Chief, and one or more other officers or directors who are not managers or umpires shall hear and resolve any such protest as above, including playing rules. If the protest is allowed, resume the game from the exact point when the infraction occurred.

NOTE 1: This rule does not pertain to charges of infractions of regulations such as field decorum or actions of the league personnel or spectators which must be considered and resolved by the Board of Directors.

NOTE 2: All Little League officials are urged to take precautions to prevent protests. When a protest situation is imminent, the potential offenders should be notified immediately. Example: Should a manager, official scorer, league official, or umpire discover that a pitcher is ineligible at the beginning of the game, or will become ineligible during the game or at the start of the next inning of play, the fact should be brought to the attention of the manager of the team involved. Such action should not be delayed until the infraction has occurred. However, failure of personnel to notify the manager of the infraction does not affect the validity of the protest.

A.R. – A substitute pitcher who is ineligible DOES NOT have to pitch to a batter. It is not a violation until the ineligible pitcher has delivered a “Pitch” as defined in Rule 2.00.

(g) Minor League: A local league may adopt a rule that protests must be resolved before the next pitch or play.

(h) There are no protests in Tee Ball.