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Rule 4.0 — Game Preliminaries

4.01  Umpire Duties

Before the game begins the umpire shall:

  (a) Require strict observance of all rules governing team personnel, implements of play and equipment of players;

  (b) Be sure that all playing lines (heavy lines on Appendices No. 1 and No. 2) are marked with lime, chalk or other white material easily distinguishable from the ground or grass;

  (c) Receive from the home club a supply of regulation baseballs, the number and make to be certified to the home club by the league president. The umpire shall inspect the baseballs and ensure they are regulation baseballs and that they are properly rubbed so that the gloss is removed. The umpire shall be the sole judge of the fitness of the balls to be used in the game;

  (d) Be assured by the home club that at least one dozen regulation reserve balls are immediately available for use if required;

  (e) Have possession of at least two alternate balls and shall require replenishment of such supply of alternate balls as needed throughout the game. Such alternate balls shall be put into play when:

  (1) a ball has been batted out of the playing field or into the spectator area;

  (2) a ball has become discolored or unfit for further use;

  (3) the pitcher requests such alternate ball.

Rule 4.01(e) Comment: The umpire shall not give an alternate ball to the pitcher until play has ended and the previously used ball is dead. After a thrown or batted ball goes out of the playing field, play shall not be resumed with an alternate ball until the runners have reached the bases to which they are entitled. After a home run is hit out of the playing grounds, the umpire shall not deliver a new ball to the pitcher or the catcher until the batter hitting the home run has crossed the plate.

  (f) Ensure that an official rosin bag is placed on the ground behind the pitcher’s plate prior to the start of each game.

  (g) The umpire-in-chief shall order the playing field lights turned on whenever in his opinion darkness makes further play in daylight hazardous.

4.02  Field Manager

  (a) The club shall designate the manager to the League President or the umpire-in-chief not less than thirty minutes before the scheduled starting time of the game.

  (b) The manager may advise the umpire-in-chief that he has delegated specific duties prescribed by the rules to a player or coach, and any action of such designated representative shall be official. The manager shall always be responsible for his team's conduct, observance of the official rules, and deference to the umpires.

  (c) If a manager leaves the field, he shall designate a player or coach as his substitute, and such substitute manager shall have the duties, rights and responsibilities of the manager. If the manager fails or refuses to designate his substitute before leaving, the umpire-in-chief shall designate a team member as substitute manager.

4.03  Exchange of Lineup Cards

Unless the home club shall have given previous notice that the game has been postponed or will be delayed in starting, the umpire, or umpires, shall enter the playing field five minutes before the hour set for the game to begin and proceed directly to home base where they shall be met by the managers of the opposing teams. In sequence:

  (a) First, the home manager, or his designee, shall give his batting order to the umpire-in-chief, in duplicate.

  (b) Next, the visiting manager, or his designee, shall give his batting order to the umpire-in-chief, in duplicate.

  (c) As a courtesy, each lineup card presented to the umpire-in-chief should list the fielding positions to be played by each player in the batting order. If a designated hitter is to be used, the lineup card shall designate which hitter is to be the designated hitter. See Rule 5.11(a). As a courtesy, potential substitute players should also be listed, but the failure to list a potential substitute player shall not make such potential substitute player ineligible to enter the game.

  (d) The umpire-in-chief shall make certain that the original and copies of the respective batting orders are identical, and then tender a copy of each batting order to the opposing manager. The copy retained by the umpire shall be the official batting order. The tender of the batting order by the umpire shall establish the batting orders. Thereafter, no substitutions shall be made by either manager, except as provided in the rules.

  (e) 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 the umpire-in-chief shall have sole authority to determine when a game shall be called, suspended or resumed on account of weather or the condition of the playing field. The umpire-in-chief shall not call the game until at least 30 minutes after he has suspended play. The umpire-in-chief may continue the suspension so long as he believes there is any chance to resume play.

Rule 4.03 Comment: Obvious errors in the batting order, which are noticed by the umpire-in-chief before he calls "Play" for the start of the game, should be called to the attention of the manager or captain of the team in error, so the correction can be made before the game starts. For example, if a manager has inadvertently listed only eight men in the batting order, or has listed two players with the same last name but without an identifying initial and the errors are noticed by the umpire before he calls "play," he shall cause such error or errors to be corrected before he calls "play" to start the game. Teams should not be “trapped” later by some mistake that obviously was inadvertent and which can be corrected before the game starts.

The umpire-in-chief shall at all times try to complete a game. His authority to resume play following one or more suspensions of as much as 30 minutes each shall be absolute and he shall terminate a game only when there appears to be no possibility of completing it.

The Major Leagues have determined that Rule 4.03(e) does not apply to any Wild Card, Division Series, League Championship Series or World Series games or for any additional Major League championship season game played to break a tie.

4.04  Weather and Field Conditions

  (a) The home team shall be the sole judge as to whether a game shall not be started because of unsuitable weather conditions or the unfit condition of the playing field, except for the second game of a conventional or split doubleheader.

EXCEPTION: Any league may permanently authorize its president to suspend the application of this rule as to that league during the closing weeks of its championship season in order to assure that the championship is decided each year on its merits. When the postponement of, and possible failure to play, a game in the final series of a championship season between any two teams might affect the final standing of any club in the league, the president, on appeal from any league club, may assume the authority granted the home team by this rule.

  (b) The umpire-in-chief of the first game shall be the sole judge as to whether the second game of a conventional or split doubleheader shall not be started because of unsuitable weather conditions or the unfit condition of the playing field.

  (c) A postponed game shall be a "No Game" and shall be treated in the same manner as a game called before it has become a regulation game within the meaning of Rule 7.01(e).

4.05  Special Ground Rules

The manager of the home team shall present to the umpire-in-chief and the opposing manager any ground rules he thinks necessary covering the overflow of spectators upon the playing field, batted or thrown balls into such overflow, or any other contingencies. If these rules are acceptable to the opposing manager they shall be legal. If these rules are unacceptable to the opposing manager, the umpire-in-chief shall make and enforce any special ground rules he thinks are made necessary by ground conditions, which shall not conflict with the official playing rules.

4.06  No Fraternization

Players in uniform shall not address or mingle with spectators, nor sit in the stands before, during, or after a game. No manager, coach or player shall address any spectator before or during a game. Players of opposing teams shall not fraternize at any time while in uniform.

4.07  Security

  (a) No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club.

  (b) The home team shall provide police protection sufficient to preserve order. If a person, or persons, enter the playing field during a game and interfere in any way with the play, the visiting team may refuse to play until the field is cleared.

PENALTY: If the field is not cleared in a reasonable length of time, which shall in no case be less than 15 minutes after the visiting team’s refusal to play, the umpire-in-chief may forfeit the game to the visiting team.

4.08  Doubleheaders


  (1) Only two championship games shall be played on one date. Completion of a suspended game shall not violate this rule, except for games in National Association Leagues. See Rule 7.02(b) Comment.

  (2) If two games are scheduled to be played for one admission on one date, the first game shall be the regularly scheduled game for that date.

  (b) After the start of the first game of a conventional or split doubleheader, that game shall be completed before the second game of the doubleheader shall begin.

  (c) The second game of a doubleheader shall start twenty minutes after the first game is completed, unless a longer interval (not to exceed thirty minutes) is declared by the umpire-in-chief and announced to the opposing managers at the end of the first game.

EXCEPTION: If the League President has approved a request of the home club for a longer interval between games for some special event, the umpire-in-chief shall declare such longer interval and announce it to the opposing managers. The umpire-in-chief of the first game shall be the timekeeper controlling the interval between games.

  (d) The umpire shall start the second game of a doubleheader, if at all possible, and play shall continue as long as ground conditions, local time restrictions, or weather permit.

  (e) When a regularly scheduled doubleheader is delayed in starting for any cause, any game that is started is the first game of the doubleheader.

  (f) When a rescheduled game is part of a doubleheader the rescheduled game shall be the second game, and the first game shall be the regularly scheduled game for that date.

  (g) Between games of a doubleheader, or whenever a game is suspended because of the unfitness of the playing field, the umpire-in-chief shall have control of ground-keepers and assistants for the purpose of making the playing field fit for play.

PENALTY: For violation, the umpire-in-chief may forfeit the game to the visiting team.



1.0 - Objectives of the Game

2.0 - The Playing Field

3.0 - Equipment & Uniforms

4.0 - Game Preliminaries

5.0 - Playing the Game

6.0 - Improper Play, Illegal Action

7.0 - Ending the Game

8.0 - The Umpire

Definitions of Terms

Appendix 1-5

OBR Table of Contents

INDEX to the Rules of Baseball