Below is a brief summary of the 2014 Little League rule and regulation changes. Note that not all of these changes were listed in the front of the rulebook – Little League listed what they considered the “significant” rule changes there, but didn’t mention some less obvious ones.
Regulation II – Residency
Residency requirements have been changed to allow players to play for a league whose boundaries include the school that they attend.
The phrase “with amateur status” was added to the eligibility requirements for all divisions. Previously, this phrase was only explicitly included in the Big League division.
A matching change has been made in the “Player Eligibility” section of the Tournament Rules.
Regulation VI(b) – Baseball
A clarification has been made to the regulation allowing pitchers in Intermediate and up to leave the mound and then return:
(b) A pitcher remaining on defense in the game, but moving to a different position, can return as a pitcher anytime in the remainder of the game, but only once per game.
The underlined phrase was added, clarifying what was previously meant by “remaining in the game.”
Regulation VI(b) – Baseball
The regulation permitted a pitcher who had reached his or her pitching limits to continue to pitch until the batter reached base, was put out, or the third out was made to complete the half-inning. The rule has been amended to include the situation in which the game ends without the third out in the half-inning necessarily being made.
This same change was made in the corresponding Tournament Rules (Rule 4e).
Regulation VI Note 3
Previously, the pitching regulations included the following:
EXCEPTION: In the event that the first inning is not completed, all records including pitching records, batting records, etc. shall be disregarded.
This exception has been removed from Regulation VI. Thus, even if a game does not complete the first inning, pitchers who participated during the first inning must adhere to the appropriate rest requirements. In addition, this eliminates the requirement to completely restart a game that doesn’t get through the first inning – such a game would be suspended just like a game interrupted at any other point.
Note that the corresponding exception in the Tournament rules (Rule 11) was not removed. The tournament rules still say:
EXCEPTION: In the event that the first inning is not completed, the game shall be replayed from the beginning and all records, including pitching, disregarded. Incomplete (not regulation) or tie games are considered suspended.
Possession of firearms on the playing field, benches or dugouts is now expressly prohibited. The rule also now explicitly mentions “cigarettes” in addition to “tobacco.”
Rule 1.10 – Baseball
For the Intermediate and Junior Leagues, the following phrase has been added:
If a 2-1⁄4 barrel bat has no composite materials, it may be used provided it is labeled with a BPF (bat performance factor) of 1.15 or less. (NOTE: Solid wooded barrel bats do not require a BPF label.)
Previously, the requirements for 2-1⁄4 bats had not been specified in these divisions.
Rule 1.10 – Baseball and softball
Note 4 in baseball and Note 3 in softball have been amended to read:
Bats that have cracks or sharp edges, or that cannot pass through the approved Little League bat ring for the appropriate division must be removed from play.
Previously there was no explicit prohibition on bats that were cracked or had sharp edges – only the “bat ring requirement” was explicitly in the book.
The rule now includes:
Use of a helmet by an adult base coach or any defensive player is optional.
The phrase “or any defensive player” was added, indicating that Little League does not prohibit a defensive player from wearing a protective helmet.
2.00 ILLEGAL PITCH – Baseball
The definition of “illegal pitch” was amended to explicitly indicate that violations of rule 8.05 are considered illegal pitches in Majors and Minors.
2.00 PIVOT FOOT – Softball
The definition of “pivot foot” was amended slightly, to read:
The pitcher’s PIVOT FOOT is that foot which is in contact with the pitcher’s plate prior to pushing off, as opposed to the non-pivot foot with which the pitcher steps toward home plate.
The underlined phrase was added, since it is legal for a pitcher to drag his/her foot off the pitching plate as part of the delivery.
4.07 – Ejections
The rule was amended to indicate that a manager, coach or player suspended as a result of an ejection may not participate in pregame or postgame activities in addition to the game itself.
The same change was made in the corresponding Tournament Rules (9c and 17).
4.19(a) – Protests
An exception was added to 4.19(a). The rule now reads:
(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)].
The exception for an illegal bat was added, since there is now a penalty associated with that, as opposed to the bat simply being removed.
5.09(c) – Illegal Pitch – Softball
The rule has been amended to read:
5.09 – The ball becomes dead and runners advance one base, or remain on their bases, without liability to be put out, when –
(c) an illegal pitch is committed (see Penalty 8.05). The ball is dead at the end of playing action, if the ball is pitched;
The underlined phrase was added, making this paragraph consistent with the fact that an illegal pitch which is delivered to the batter may still be batted by the offense.
6.05(b) – Third Strike Not Caught
The approved ruling has been amended to read:
APPROVED RULING: When a batter becomes a runner on a third strike that is not caught, and starts for the bench or his/her position, that batter may advance to first base at any time before entering the dugout or any other dead ball area. To put the batter out, the defense must tag the batter or first base before the batter touches first base.
Previously, the term “bench” was used in place of the underlined text.
6.06(c) – Illegal Action by the Batter
The rule was reworded as follows:
6.06 – A batter is out for illegal action when –
(c) interfering with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by:
1) stepping out of the batter’s box, or;
2) making any other movement that hinders the catcher’s actions at home plate or the catcher’s attempt to play on a runner, or;
3) failing to make a reasonable effort to vacate a congested area when there is a throw to home plate and there is time for the batter to move away.
Previously, the rule simply read:
(c) interfering with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batter’s box or making any other movement that hinders the catcher’s play at home base.
The new wording helps clarify the batter’s responsibilities, particularly in the case where a play is being made on a runner coming home.
7.01 – Softball
The rule has been amended as follows:
7.01 – A runner acquires the right to an unoccupied base when that runner touches it before being retired. The runner is then entitled to it until put out or forced to vacate it for another runner legally entitled to that base. If a runner legally acquires title to a base, and the pitcher has control of the ball within the eight (8) foot radius circle and is not making a play, the runner may not return to a previously occupied base.
Previously, the underlined phrase read “assumes his/her pitching position.” Under a strict reading of the previous version of the rule, the “8 foot circle rule” applied to a runner advancing, but not necessarily retreating. This change brings this paragraph into consistency with 7.08(a) in this respect.
8.05(e) – Baseball
The rule was reworded to explicitly state that a quick return pitch is an illegal pitch in Majors and below even if there are no runners on base. This brings this paragraph into line with the wording of the definitions of an Illegal Pitch and a Quick Return in Section 2.00.
8.05 – Penalty for Illegal Pitch/Balk – Baseball
The penalty for an illegal pitch for Majors and below was reworded to emphasize that:
- A “ball” is called even if no pitch is thrown.
- The ball is dead and no runners may advance unless the pitch is delivered and a play follows
- A pitch is always added to the pitcher’s count
In addition, for Intermediate and above, the following was added:
When a balk is called, if the pitch is delivered, a pitch shall be charged against the pitch count regardless of whether the batter put the pitch into play. However, on a balk that is called on a pickoff attempt or in an instance that the pitcher does not deliver the pitch, no pitch shall be charged to the pitch count.
Depending on the situation, a balk can result in a “no pitch” declaration (i.e. neither a ball nor a strike on the batter). This emphasizes that the pitch still counts toward the pitcher’s pitch count.
If you are interested, I have prepared PDF versions of the 2013 Little League Rule Changes that you may hand out:
- All the 2014 Little League Rule Changes – baseball and softball (4 pages)
- Just the baseball changes (3 pages)
- Just the softball changes (3 pages)
Here’s looking forward to a great 2013 season!