March 20, 2003

THE UMPIRE'S POWER. 34

Under Section II of Rule 52 the umpire _is invested with the
authority to order any player to do, or to omit to do, any act, as he may
deem it necessary_, to give force or effect to any or all of the
provisions of the code of playing rules. This gives him the authority to
decide all disputed points in a game not expressly covered by the rules,
subject, of course, to legal protest.

JUDGING THE CONDITION OF THE FIELD.

Rule 29 gives the captain of the home club the sole power to decide
whether the field is in condition for play at the hour appointed for
beginning a game. But after a game has been commenced, and it be
interrupted by rain, the umpire alone decides whether the field is in fair
condition for resuming play after such suspension of the game.

THE UMPIRE SOLE JUDGE OF ILLNESS OR INJURY.

Rule 28 makes the umpire the sole judge as to the nature and extent of
the "illness or injury" claimed to disable a player from service on the
field. The captains have nothing to say in the matter. All they can do is
to appeal to the umpire, and abide by his decision.

GAMES STOPPED BY RAIN.

Rule 55 the umpire is prohibited from suspending play in a match game on
account of rain, unless "_rain falls so heavily that the spectators are
compelled by the severity of the storm_, to seek shelter." If the rain is
light, or an ordinary drizzle, it is not sufficient to legalize the
suspension of the play.

THE CAPTAIN ONLY CAN ADDRESS THE UMPIRE.

Rules 53 and 57 are explicit in prohibiting any player, except the
captain of the nine, from addressing the umpire in regard to any decision
he may make; and even the captain can only do so in the case of a question
involving an error in misinterpreting the rules. If the decision disputed
involves only an error of judgment, even the captain has no right to
question the decision. In every case of a violation of this rule, the
umpire must fine the offender _five dollars_, or he himself be liable to
immediate dismissal for violating the rules.

BATSMEN CHANGING POSITION.

Last season a custom came into vogue which virtually violated Section V
of Rule 43. It was the habit some batsmen had of jumping from one batting
position to the other just as the pitcher was about to deliver the ball to
the bat, this act virtually hindering the catcher from properly fielding
the pitched ball. While no rule should prevent a batsman from batting from
either the left or the right batting position at his option it certainly
was never intended to allow the change to be made while play was in
progress: and it therefore becomes the duty of the umpire to interpret
this rule according to its spirit, and to regard the action of a batsman
in jumping from one position to the other while the ball is in play from
pitcher to catcher as hindering the catcher, and in such case he should
declare him out.

INTERFERING WITH A BATTED OR THROWN BALL.

Rule 48 prohibits a base runner from interfering with a fielder
attempting to field a batted ball. The runner has no right to the line of
the base when a fielder is occupying it in the effort to catch a fly ball,
or to field a batted ball; nor can a base runner make any attempt to
hinder or obstruct a fielder from fielding a thrown ball without his being
promptly decided out. In all cases the base runner must run off the line
of the bases to avoid interfering with a fielder standing on the line of
the bases to field a batted ball. Section VIII of Rule 28 says, "_Or
intentionally interferes with a thrown ball_," and the intention is judged
by his effort to avoid interference or not.

PASSED BALLS WHICH GIVE A BASE.

Rule 46, Section IV., states that in the case of a pitched ball which
passes the catcher and then touches the umpire; or if such passed ball
touches any fence or building within ninety feet of the home base, the
runner is entitled to one base without being put out, and can of course
take more at his own risk.

OVERRUNNING FIRST BASE.

The base runner, in running to first base, is only exempt from being
touched out after overrunning the base, when he turns to the right after
overrunning the base. If he crosses the foul line after overrunning,
toward second base, that is tantamount to turning to the left, but so long
as he is on foul ground after overrunning the base, it is immaterial
whether he turns to the left or to the right. The leaving foul ground in
overrunning decides the point against him. It is best, however, always to
turn to the right in returning.

DOUBTFUL DECISIONS IN FAVOR OF THE BATTING SIDE.

The rules expressly make a distinction in favor of the batting side in
all cases where there is any doubt as to the player being fairly out.
Especially is this the case in the case of the batsman's being put out at
first base, for Section IV. of Rule 48 requires the ball to be securely
held by the base player "_before_" the runner touches the base in order to
put him out, and the rub applies to the touching out of all base runners
on bases; the words being "_before_" the runner reaches the base, if at
the same time, he--the runner--is not out. Time and again were base
runners unfairly decided out last season in cases where the ball was held
by the base player simultaneously with the runner's touching the base,
every such decision being illegal.

In regard to the umpire's enforcement of Rule 48, President Young says,
"Too many base runners are decided out when the ball is held by the base
player simultaneously with the runner's reaching the base, which decisions
are illegal." If umpires will strictly enforce the rule it will greatly
increase the chances for base running and team work at the bat.

Mr. Byrne, of the Joint Rules Committee, in joining with Mr. Young in
having this rule enforced, says: "We are doing all we can to encourage
base stealing and a proper attention to the rule, by more frequently
deciding men safe at first, as it will add interest to the game. I
believe, too, that it would be wise in all cases of decision on first base
points for the Umpire to give the base runner the benefit of the doubt."

BATTED BALLS HITTING THE BASES.

Since the first and third bases were placed entirely on fair ground and
within the foul lines, every batted ball touching either the first or
third base bag, must be declared a fair ball no matter where it strikes
after touching either bag. It would be better to have the bags in question
on foul ground, so as to make every batted ball foul that strikes them;
but until this is done, all such batted balls must be declared fair.

COACHERS MUST KEEP WITHIN THEIR LINES.

Captains or their assistants who engage in "coaching" base runners, must
keep within the lines of their designated position, or if they attempt to
coach a runner while standing outside of their position, or to run toward
home base outside the lines of their position, they must be fined five
dollars for each violation of the rule.

OPEN BETTING PROHIBITED.

Rule 58 prohibits open betting on all ball grounds of clubs governed by
the rules of the _National Agreement_. The penalty for a violation of this
rule is the forfeiture of the game which is being played when the rule is
violated; and the Umpire must enforce this rule or be amenable to a
prompt removal from his position.

NO UMPIRE TO BE INSULTED.

Rule 52 states that "the umpire is master of the field from the
commencement to the termination of the game; and he is entitled to the
respect of the spectators, and _any person offering any insult or
indignity to him must be promptly ejected from the grounds_," under the
penalty of a forfeiture of the game.

[**Proofreaders note: the chart has been reformatted to improve
readability**].