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Savannah's post got me thinking about the balk rule, undoubtedly developed by Buddhist monks on a mountaintop in the snow, hundreds of years ago.

What's the worst balk call you've seen or heard of?

My contributions:

(1)State playoff game, windy day, tying run on third, pitcher comes set and a gust of wind knocks his cap off so he instinctively grabs for it-BALK!!!

Maybe technically correct, but just horrible.

(2) My son on the mound, so it has my interest, and he does a rapid spin and throws to first, same move he has made for 2 years of high school ball, with zero balk calls- American Legion ump calls a balk, and says he has to "gain ground" with his move. I still don't know what that one meant.....
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Bases loaded, Pitcher places his pivot foot on the pitchers plate, Home plate umpire puts on his mask takes position behind the catcher and points at the pitcher, runners take their lead. Pitcher has not come set, looks at the first baseman, the First baseman takes the ball out of his glove and tags the runner. Base Ump calls the runner out! I show the Home Ump the rule about the Pitcher can't be on the pitchers plate without the ball. He replies I never said "Play Ball"! The run would have tied the game. I was run for asking him what the 'magic words were' before the next pitch.

Similar situation in a Babe Ruth All-Star Tournament a couple of years ago. Opposing coach calls time and goes out to the mound, infield comes in to the mound. I have a man on third we are tied, it's the last inning with one out and one of my better hitters coming to the plate.

Other coach finishes his antics and walks off the field, infielders return to their positions and the pitcher steps inside the magic circle and walks to the top of the mound and bends over like he is taking signals from the catcher.

My player on third steps off and yes you got it, third baseman has the ball and tags my player out. UMP let's it stick, we go to extra innings and lose the game on that call.

The bad part is I knew the other coach and needless to say I lost my cool big time.

OH well we live and learn and I can tell you one thing, balk or no balk I have never been burned on that play again. Wink

As you noted #1 is a balk........regardless of intent....kind of like dropping the ball, might be a reaction or unintentional, but still a balk.

#2....well that is one of those I would have to see, just not enough info in a post to see what happened ....but just because high school umpires have not called it, does not mean it wasnt a balk....

Many times HS associations routinely ignore only the most brutal of balk offenses....The main one you see let go is the stop in the set position....Pitchers blow through the set and it is never called...

What can I there is so much wrong with that scenario...If it was a live ball, the call should have been a balk...(pitcher on the mound without the ball). If time was in and pointing at the pitcher is the sign, then the pitcher must have the ball for time to be in.....

Same thing for you........bad call....actually sounds like a game I did this past summer....PONY WORLD SERIES regional playoff...
Umpires get themselves in these jams by not knowing the rules. Unfortunatly that also causes the teams to be harmed.
Last edited by piaa_ump
The base umpire saw the Home Ump call for the pitch and thought what I did, Home Ump put the ball in play that is why he signaled the out, Home plate ump overruled the called when I pointed out the balk rule, the base runner was left at first base. The other team had called a time out to get the ball to the first baseman. The home plate ump called for the pitch when he pointed at the pitcher and settled in behind the plate, thus my comment about what were the magic words, Big Grin , my temper got the better of me that day.
Originally posted by piaa_ump

What can I there is so much wrong with that scenario...If it was a live ball, the call should have been a balk...(pitcher on the mound without the ball). If time was in and pointing at the pitcher is the sign, then the pitcher must have the ball for time to be in.....

I agree there was too much wrong with the whole thing and to add insult to injury I lost $100.00 on the appeal. I learned a valuable lesson, don't argue with board members laugh (I wrote it off as a donation this year on my taxes. Hee hee)
The other side is when a Coach talks a weak umpire into a call.

My son's HS was playing another team in the last game of the regular season. The winning team would clinch a spot in the state playoff's, the loser would only make it depending on what happenned in other games.

He came in to relieve in the bottom of the 6th. The game was tight. Runner's were on first and second. From the first pitch the opponent's Coach started yelling "Balk" over and over again. He was Coaching third.

After my son got one out, he was holding the runner at second. The "Balk" yelling continued. He looked at the runner at second, looked home, looked back at the runner and the field umpire calls a balk. Nothing had moved accept his head and neck to check the runner.

As it turned out, it didn't matter. They didn't score and we won the game. Both teams made the playoffs.

My son has seen this Coach several times since. Every time, the Coach yells "Balk" and starts laughing. He knows he got away with one. My son should be ready when we see them again this year.
When you protested that pitcher can't be on the pitchers plate without the ball and home plate umpire over-ruled you by saying that "I never said play ball", did any of you ever stop to think that the HP ump just indicated that time was still out by his comment, and you can't tag a runner out while time is still stopped? Sounds like they blew the proper call on that play, twice!

Blackheart, sounds like everyone blew this call also. If your runner properly tagged and scored, the run counts. If it was ruled an infield fly and he tagged and scored the run still counts. Sounds like everyone forgot that runners advance at their own risk on infield flies. The ball does not become dead on an infield fly.
I once saw a coach yelling balk all the time get hit in the gut with a wild pick off. The coach stopped yell and was ducking from then on. Kid didn't mean to hit him the coach he was behind the first base bag online with the pick off, coach never saw the ball coming till it hit him, laugh

I heard one umpire warn a coach for interference for yelling balk all the time, kids were 9 and 10, PONY Mustang division. I liked that the young pitcher was having a hard time focusing because of the coaches antics.
Tournament, Pony rules. Son was pitching, RHP. I was sitting by the 3rd base dugout giving signs to my catcher and was clearly turned toward the catcher. The plate umpire calls my son for a balk for watching me give the signs to the catcher. Even if he was, and I wasn't looking at him so I have no idea what he was doing, there's no rule against it.
Last edited by CADad

You got hosed twice on that call!!! Not only does IF fly have to be a ball that is catchable with reasonable effort, you are allowed to tag up after the's not a dead ball.

The only effect it has on the play is that the hitter is automatically out!!!

I would have gotten run from the tournament on that one!!!
Last game of a tournament. Playing in consolation bracket. Out of regular pitchers. Bring in my best position arm....centerfielder.

Runner on secondbase, one out. We're up by one run.

Pitcher winds up. Properly. (forgot about stretch; 16 yrs old; never pitches) Did nothing wrong. Coach in 3B box yells for his runner to advance. Runner hesitates then takes off when he sees what's up, then doesn't think he can make 3B and returns to 2B.

Umpire calls a balk.

I got an early vacation.
Last edited by Teacherman
I appreciate all your scenarios and I believe every one happened. It pains me to see how much inferior umpiring is out there on what used to be considered a high level.

Much of what we have heard in this thread is common occurances in the lower leagues with umpires of questionable ability, but with testing and evaluation that most NFHS umpires have to go through to get the patch, I guess Im just suprized at the amount of issues.

I would be less concerned if we are talking about technical balks or obscure rules, but most of these are the everyday garden variety calls we all have every season.

I teach an Umpire class every year, and am assigned as a training umpire for the leagues I work for.....has the shortage of umpires come to such a level that these leagues are employing the incompetent? I know in my chapter that if you have shown that you are not capable of calling a game, you will not get assigned and noone will work with may sound harsh, but its the way of the jungle, you either do it right, learn and improve or your done.....

Now with that being said, I attended my first HS chapter meeting of the year this past wednesday night......and the room was looking a bit 44, I am one of the younger umpires. Each year we get a bunch of new umpires, but the game has a way of weeding out umpires just like players...
Actually Blackheart only got hosed once, technically. It didn't matter if IF was called or not (and it's a judgment call anyway.) When an IF is actually caught the play is no different that when no IF is called and a fly ball is caught. The IF rule only really has any effect if the fly ball isn't caught.
So the only real hosing was when the runner was sent back to 3rd. (And what did the ump think he was doing that for???)
This is getting a bit off the balk topic, but goes directly to what PIAA says about new umpires. We had an intersquad scrimmage at son's HS a couple Saturdays ago. The local umpiring assoc. brought about 20 umpires out for a training clinic. Most were new or only had a year or two of experience, though there were about 6 that were there as trainers. So far, so good.

Part way through the scrimmage, we've got a runner on first and the hitter drives the ball toward left-center. The baserunner read the ball and sprinted around 2nd headed for third without hesitating. The LF comes in and fields the ball, but for some reason known only to him (it was a JV player) he didn't throw the ball to 3rd where he could have nailed the runner, or to 2nd but kind of where the shortstop would normally be, only the SS was in shallow left-center for a relay throw that LF overshot. He threw the ball to nobody, other than the runner going headed for third. The thrown ball hits the runner and the bases ump yells dead ball and calls the runner out for interference.

Those of us who coach that were behind the fence were cracking up, as were the HS coaches. The new umpire thought that since the ball contacted the runner he was automatically out. The trainer went out and they discussed it for a long time and you could see him teaching the fellow what the rules are. In the end, they called the runner out anyway and said it was a judegement call that he interfered with the ball. HUH? It didn't occur to the base ump that the only reason the throw was anywhere near the runner was that it was thrown in an area he had no business throwing the ball to, but in the interest of saving face the other umps backed him so he wouldn't be embarrased. If the new guy on the bases learned anything, it wasn't good.

Thankfully, this guy will only be working freshman or JV games, but sheesh, they have to learn to get it right. I basically viewed this as supporting a guy when he was totally wrong on a rule, which reinforces bad judgement.

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