March 06, 2003


The experience of each season in regard to the conflicting opinions of
umpires and players in their interpretation of the code of playing rules,
has made it a necessity on the part of the editor of the GUIDE, to devote
a special chapter each year to the subject of properly interpreting every
important rule of the game. This year we make up this special chapter in
the form of an _Explanatory Appendix_ to the new code, which is officially
indorsed by the President of the National League, and the Secretary of the
Joint Committee on Rules of the League and the American Association.
Taking up the rules of the new code in their regular order we proceed to
give the official interpretation of the practical application of each
newly amended rule, as also of every rule, of the correct definition of
which there is likely to arise any question.


"In no case shall less than nine men be allowed to play on each side." So
says Rule 14. The practical application of the rule is that if a club has
not nine men ready to take the field at the hour appointed for beginning a
regularly scheduled championship-game, the club short handed must forfeit
the game. Moreover, if they begin play with the required complement of
men, and one of the number becomes injured and disabled from service in
the field, and they have no legal substitute player to take the disabled
man's place, the game cannot be continued with but eight men in the field,
and therefore it must be similarly forfeited.


Rule 17 requires that "every club shall be required to adopt uniforms for
the players;" and Rule 28 renders it necessary that at least one
substitute player shall be ready "in uniform" to take the place of a
disabled player, or to become the tenth player of the team in accordance
with section 2 of Rule 28.


Besides the regular substitute player required to be ready to take the
place of a disabled player, Rule 28--a new amendment--admits of an
_independent substitute player_ on each side, whose services in the field
are held subject to the requirement of either of the two Captains whenever
he shall deem it advisable to remove any player, who, though not disabled
"by illness or injury," is not doing the work in the field to the
Captain's satisfaction. But such substitute can only replace another
player at the close of a regular innings play; and, moreover, the player
whose place the extra substitute takes, cannot again take part in the game
then being played.

It should be borne in mind that this special rule was adopted not only to
enable the Captain of a team to strengthen a weak point discovered during
the progress of the game, but also to enable him to utilize new talent
when the game has been virtually won, as the experience in such instances
is especially valuable to young players, notably so in the case of battery
players. It also enables the Captain to save the work of a valuable
battery player from a prolonged strain rendered unnecessary by the winning
lead obtained.


Rule 12, Sec. 2, requires the Umpire to call for the putting in play of
the substitute ball whenever the ball previously in play, is batted foul
over the fence or the grand stands, "_out of the sight of the players_."
Also in case the ball in play becomes "_unfit for fair use_," as to which
the Umpire is the sole judge.

A new ball can only be called for in case neither of the two balls in use
are legally available for service.


The amended rule governing the delivery of the ball by the pitcher--Rule
18 of the new code--has had the words "his left foot in front of the
right, and to the left of an imaginary line from his right foot to the
center of the home base" eliminated from it, and in consequence the
pitcher is not now required to abide by that portion of the rule, which
governed his movements in 1888. The pitcher's position, when he prepares
to deliver the ball to the bat, must be that in which he stands with both
feet squarely on the ground, and with one foot--left or right--placed on
the rear line of his position. While thus standing ready to deliver the
ball, he must hold it before him in full sight of the Umpire. The words
"in the act of delivering the ball" refer to the very last motion in
delivery, and in making this motion the rear foot is of necessity placed
on the ground, as it is from this standpoint that the power to give the
last impetus to the ball in delivery is derived. Consequently the foot
cannot be lifted from the ground entirely until the ball leaves his hand.
In making his regular motions to deliver while he is prohibited from
lifting the entire foot in the rear line from the ground, he is not
debarred from lifting the heel of the foot an inch or so. In making the
preliminary movements, too, he cannot take but one forward step, though he
can make this single step in any way he chooses, provided it be a regular
and habitual motion of his delivery.


When the pitcher feigns to throw to a base prior to delivering the ball
to the bat, in every such instance after making the feint to throw, he
must resume his original position, "facing the batsman," and "holding the
ball fairly in front of his body," and "momentarily pause before
delivering the ball to the bat." If he makes a feint to throw and then
delivers the ball with one apparent motion, without pausing to stand, he
commits a balk.


Rule 19 says that "Batsmen must take their position at the bat in the
order in which they are named on _the score_." This _score_ is not
sufficiently defined in the rule, but it means the printed or written
order of batting, which each captain of the contesting team presents to
the umpire prior to the commencement of the game; and such order, on
approval of the umpire, should be copied verbatim in the score book of the
official scorer of the home club, who alone is authorized to send a copy
of the score of the game, as the official copy, to the secretary of the
League or Association the club belongs to.

After the order of batting has been submitted to the umpire, it becomes
the official order, and after being thus indorsed it cannot be changed
except in the case of a substitute player taking the place either of a
disabled player, or that of a removed player--under the new rule--and in
such case the incoming substitute player takes the place in the order of
batting of the disabled or removed player.


The captain of a nine can place his nine men in any position of the field
he chooses. There is in fact no arbitrary rule governing the placing of
the men except in the case of the pitcher, and he of course must always
occupy the pitcher's box. Under Rule 15, the captain can place his
infielders, in close within the diamond, or all outside of it, also the
outfielders, either in close to the infielders, or lying out deep or close
to the foul line, etc. But the pitcher of the ball must always be in the
"box" when delivering the ball.


Rule 32, Section I, defines a balk as "Any motion made by the pitcher to
deliver the ball to the bat without delivering it." This definition
embraces every one of the motions the pitcher is accustomed to make
preliminary to the actual delivery of the ball, whether of his hands,
arms, or feet, or any motion of his body. He cannot therefore make any
pretense of delivering the ball while not having the ball in his hand
ready to deliver it as in the case of a base player hiding the ball while
the pitcher acts as if he himself had possession of it--without his making
a balk.

The words "any motion calculated to deceive a base runner," refer to
pretended movements to deliver outside of those referred to in the first
portion of the rule.


There is an important distinction between a "_balk_" and an "_illegal
delivery_." A "_balk_" is made when the pitcher makes a motion to deliver
the ball to the bat without following such motion with actual delivery, or
if he holds the ball in his hand long enough to unnecessarily delay the
game. An "_illegal delivery_" is made when the pitcher steps out of his
"box" in delivery, or lifts his rear foot from the ground before the ball
leaves his hand--his lifting his foot afterward is of no account--or if he
fails to pause before delivery after making a feint to throw to a base. In
the case of a "balk," every occupant of a base, as a base runner, becomes
entitled to one base, whether forced by the batsman or not. But the
batsman cannot take a base on a "balk." In the case of an "illegal
delivery," however, while occupants of bases can only take a base on such
delivery in case of being "forced off," the batsman is given a base on
such illegal delivery. While an "illegal delivery" is in the nature of a
balk, it is not an actual "balk" as technically termed in the rules.


The ball cannot be used to put a player on the batting side out, either
in the case of a batted ball to foul ground not caught on the fly; a
called _foul strike_; a runner being hit by a batted ball; a pitched ball
striking the batsman, or striking his bat without being intentionally
struck at; or from the ball striking the umpire while he is on foul
ground, before it passes the catcher; or, in the case of a called block
ball, until said ball is _first held by the pitcher while standing within
his position_.


The elimination of the sharp foul-tip catch from the rules will
necessitate the placing of a white line, forming a half circle, within a
radius of ten feet from the home base, and located on foul ground, as it
is only foul tips caught within ten feet of the home base which do not put
the batsman out.