Ground Rule

Played at a field tonight where a tree is on the outside of the fence.  The branches lean over into foul territory and even past the foul line into fair territory just barely.  The ground rules were explained that the ball was live if it hit the branches.  So if a ball in the air hits the branches and is caught before hitting the ground it would be an out.  Surely that cannot be the right interpretation of this.

This team also didn't chalk the batters box after the JV game before varsity game.  First inning their batter sets up in the box with his front foot where the front of the box is / should be.  There was still some chalk but you could see the line of the LHH box to visualize where the RHH box would be.  Their guy gets a hit with his foot clearly out of the box.  No call - I discuss / argue with the plate ump.  Same kid's next at bat he sets up further in the box and half his foot is already out of the box.  Kid crushes the ball over the fence for a 2 run homer.  As soon as he hits it I start losing my mind and the plate ump waits until he reaches first then calls him out.  So he got it right.  Other coach loses his mind and starts arguing for a very long time.  About ready to resume play and other coach calls time.  Gets a rake, the chalk cart and the template to actually lay lines down.  Neither umpire never tosses him.  We had to wait 6 or 7 minutes for him to do this.  I demanded that my pitcher gets a few warm up pitches since the argument lasted about 6 or 7 minutes on top of the grounds keeping delay.  He let my guy throw 3 pitches.

My head hurts after tonight.

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. Thomas Jefferson

Original Post

"Chalk" (sorry) it up in your memory bank and the next time you go back there and there aren't lines for the boxes before the game starts, respectfully request that they be drawn... Boxes, baselines, coaches boxes... Perhaps wait until his pitcher has finished his warmups though.  

I'm going to throw rule cites at you so you have something in your pocket if this comes up again.

Starting with the tree...keep in mind that you can object to a ground rule and have the umpire formulate one (10-2-3a) that does not conflict with a book rule (4-1-2.) The stated ground rule conflicts with the book in multiple ways:

For a foul ball that touches the tree, the ground rule conflicts with 2-16-1d: A foul is a batted ball: that, while on or over foul territory, touches the person of an umpire or a player or any object foreign to the natural ground. It also conflicts with 5-1-1d1:  Ball becomes dead immediately when: a foul ball touches any object other than the ground or any person other than a fielder. Thus, a foul ball hitting the tree cannot be legally caught, by rule.

For a fair ball that touches the tree, we have a conflict when we piece together 2-6-1: A batted or thrown ball is in flight until it has touched the ground or some object other than a fielder, with 2-9-1: A catch is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a live ball in flight and firmly holding it. Once it touches the tree in fair territory, it cannot be caught for an out.

There really is no ground rule necessary, because this is covered in the book. I can think of one way to get around this and have the ground around the tree designated as a media area, but then any ball that hits the tree in fair territory is a 2-base award.

As for the boxes, I'm sure as hell not allowing them to be drawn during the game unless there's a stoppage that requires it (weather delay or the like.) If they aren't drawn before the game, I will check with the home team to make sure they are or there's a reason they aren't.

If you can, report this to your state governing body. There is no reason that varsity umpires should be having these problems.


THANK YOU - without the rule citations that is everything I said.  I even added that when the ball hits the roof of the Astrodome it's dead.  Both umps and other coach just looked at me.  I even objected to the ground rules then explaining the reasoning and plate umpire said it's his ground rules.  I know I shouldn't have but I agreed to play because there's no way they were going to change their mind and the chances of the tree getting hit were remote.  This is a team in our conference so we will play there the next three years.

I asked the plate umpire later in the game how close he came to tossing the other coach (I was just curious) and he said "I'm not throwing anybody out.  Too much paperwork." I just walked away.

We used to be part of this association but as AD 3 or 4 years ago I petitioned the state to let us go to another association because it was so bad.  We actually won a protest and had to replay the last out of a game because they butchered a black and white rule so bad.  

Thanks again

FYI, just because it hits the roof, doesn't mean it's a dead ball. Here are the ground rules for Tropicana Field in Tampa.

Tropicana Field Ground Rule Particulars


Batted ball strikes catwalk, light or suspended object over fair territory

Batted ball that strikes either of the lower two catwalks (known as the 'C-Ring' and the 'D-Ring'), including any lights or suspended objects attached to either of those catwalks as well as any angled support rods that connect the 'C-Ring' to the masts that support the 'D-Ring' in fair territory: Home Run.

Batted ball that strikes either of the upper catwalks (known as the 'A-Ring' and the 'B-Ring'), including the masts that support each of those catwalks as well as any angled support rods that connect the 'B-Ring' to the masts that support the 'C-Ring' in fair territory: In Play. If caught by fielder, batter is out and runners advance at own risk.

Batted ball that is not judged a home run and remains on a catwalk, light or suspended object: Two Bases.

Batted ball strikes catwalk, light or suspended object over foul territory: Dead Ball.


That said, there isn't that much paperwork to do (if it was me, I would have sent him to the showers early). Only reason I can see him staying, the umpire told him to fix it.

Better luck next time.

piaa_ump posted:

The best protection from random rulings, invalid ground rules and individual opinions is rule book knowledge.........

The coach who is armed with it picks up another weapon in his arsenal.......Offense, Defense and the Rule Book.


This is very true.  I feel like I have a very good understanding of the rules but to quote them exactly and where to find the rule book I'm weak in that department.

Try this one on for size.  My former HS alma mater has the football field running through the outfield.   My son's HS team played them (we live in the next county over) a few years back.   As such one of the goal posts is completely in play in right field close to the foul line, but the entire goal post is in fair territory.  As I recall if a batted ball hits any part of the goal post it is still "live".  Fortunately the goal post was close enough to foul territory it really didn't matter.  Most RH batters put the ball in play up the middle or pulled it to the left side.  Only a few hits were even towards the right side and none made it anywhere near the goal post.  I think there was only 1 or 2 lefties and none of them came close either.

The other goal post is in fair territory, but it is 500+ feet from home plate.  No one even came remotely close.

Just remember that some umpires may feel threatened by a coach with more rules knowledge than they have... Bringing the rule book to the plate conference will offend some.  Known to have a rule book sticking out of your back pocket will "get around". Still just indicating - I don't recall the exact rule number, but I know there's rules that cover umpires formulating grounds rules if the coaches cannot agree shouldn't draw the ire of any umpire (especially one that doesn't want to do the paperwork ).  If the PU has no idea or disagree, you probably have a protestable situation. The only thing not protestable is agreeing to play on a non regulation field, see 1-2-12.  BTW: The batters boxes, see 1-2-2 & 2-7-2 - could be considered "agreed upon" if not mentioned before the game.

I think Matt gives you the best advice - report the facts to the AD or assignor of the association that assigned that game (depending on who does that for your school). Having worked for CUI in NC (greater Charlotte area), I know if a coach/AD reports something to the assignor, then we hear about it. Umpires in that group are also expected to file game reports and stuff like you mentioned would need to be in there (except of course the I won't dump someone conversation because the claim will probably be it never happened).  If we got to a field and it wasn't lined, put it in the game report. If a coach questioned a ground rule, but we played with it as is or we changed it, put it in the game report. If a coach came out to question a call, put it in the game report. You get the picture I hope - anything that could come back at you later report it so that when/if the assignor does get contacted by a coach/AD he can look it up and go from there. Not all associations are that way from what I hear though.

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