What are the mechanics and procedures of Balk Calls?
When a balk occurs the ball does not become dead immediately. Point at the pitcher and say “balk” or “that’s a balk.” The ball only becomes dead when the umpire calls time or when play stops (when it is apparent that all runners including the batter-runner will not advance one base).
REMEMBER BALK CALLS ARE RULINGS NOT JUDGEMENT: THEREFORE AS AN UMPIRE IF YOU CALL A BALK YOU MUST BE ABLE BY RULE TO EXPLAIN THE CALL IF ASKED!!
1. If the pitcher balks and does not throw the ball, call “that’s a balk” followed by “time” and enforce the balk.
2. If a balk is followed by a batted ball, leave the ball in play until it is apparent the batter and runners do not advance one base. At that moment call “time” and enforce the balk. If all runners and the batter advance one base as a result of the play, do not enforce. The balk play will proceed.
3. If a ball is caught by the catcher, after the balk call “time” and enforce the balk. (If it is a ball four, the batter is awarded first and all runners advance one base if they are forced.) If they are not forced, the batter remains at the plate, all runners advance one base and the count remains the same for the batter.
4. If a balk is followed by a pick-off throw to a base that is caught by the fielder, call “time” as the fielder catches the ball. Then enforce the balk.
5. If the balk is followed by a pitch that hits the batter, call “time”. The moment the ball hits the batter, then enforce the balk unless the hit batsman forces all runners to advance one base, in which case play proceeds without any reference to the balk.
6. If the balk is followed by a wild throw to a base. The rule is that the runner may advance beyond the base which he is entitled at his own risk. (MLB Rule 8.05) The umpire should call the balk but not “time” until the play has ended. Runner(s) have ceased trying to advance and a fielder is in possession of the baseball in the infield.
7. If a balk is followed by a wild pitch. The rule (MLB 8.05) states the umpire should call the balk but not “time” until all play has ended when a fielder retrieves the ball in the infield.
NOTE: If the wild pitch is ball four or strike three and the batter and all runners advance one base, play proceeds without reference to the balk.
The following five points should be observed on Balk Calls:
a. Either umpire can call a balk in a two umpire system.
b. The call “that’s a balk” or “balk” should be called loudly and emphatically.
c. When one umpire calls a “balk” the other umpire should follow with the balk call.
d. At the proper moment for calling “time” both umpires should call “time” loudly and emphatically.
e. Before the next pitch the umpire should give the correct count and put the ball back in play.
If these procedures and mechanics are followed it should aid the baseball umpire in calling balks and allow him to stay out of controversy.