Baseball Rule Four

Want to know what’s in MLB Baseball Rule Four? Find out how an umpire starts a game and keeps it moving? How do teams score runs? What is the length of a game, forfeiting a game and a protesting a game? It’s all covered in baseball rule four. 

4.01  In MLB, line-up cards are given to the umpire-in-chief at the beginning of the game. (the home team first then the visitors) In our brand of baseball we have found most line-up cards are exchanged between the teams. We don’t get involved. However it is YOUR responsibility to sort out problems that may occur after the game has started. Use the home teams score book as reference. If there is no score book with the home team, go to the visitors score book.

4.02  Self-explanatory

4.03  At the beginning of each inning make sure when you say “play” or “play ball” all fielders are in fair territory except obviously the catcher.

4.04  Self-explanatory

4.05  Sometimes you will find one or no coaches in the coach’s box at the beginning of a 1/2 inning. According to baseball rule four there shall be stationed two on the field. If not, ask if there will be any coaches, and if told no, proceed with the inning.(many times in amateur baseball there are no coaches the umpire must ask about coaches if not we could be liable.)


4.06(a)  This is an important rule! Know that participants in the game cannot do certain things named in (1)(2)(3)(4) and Read them. 4.06(b) no fielder can take a position in the batter’s line of vision and with deliberate unsportmanlike intent, act in a manner to distract the batter.


Denny had an adult league game where the manager stood in front of the crowd and said these disparaging words “aren’t these guys terrible” (meaning the umpires). He also said “did you guys get your patches at Walmart”. This is an example of inciting a crowd and the participant in the game and the manager should be ejected.  


It is funny to Denny now but it wasn’t at that time.

4.07  Remember when someone is ejected from the game they must be  “OUT OF SIGHT AND SOUND”. This includes suspended players, etc.

4.08  Also do not be intimidated if the bench is violent in any manner. Warn them or eject them. If you can’t single out the offender, clear the bench of substitute players if you need to. However, use wisdom before clearing the whole bench. Pick someone at random and make an example of them.

It is a good recommendation not to have RABBIT EARS!!!

4.09  It is imperative that you understand HOW A TEAM SCORES.

  (a) Explains the rule on how a team scores. READ AND LEARN THE RULE!

  (b) Know when bases are loaded for a winning run to score if the batter’s walked or hit by a pitch, he must touch first base and the base runner on third must touch home plate. On a batted ball all runners must touch the base they are forced to. Then the umpire can declare the game over. If the runners on first and third don’t touch, except if a fan runs on the field, the ump can disallow the run and resume the game. If the batter-runner does not touch first, the same applies. Read the case studies in the rule book pertaining to baseball rule four. Note: That a walked or hit by pitch batter is different than a batted ball.

Read Merkles Bonehead Play which has to do with baseball rule four. 

4.10  Amateur baseball is usually seven (7) innings. In a tied game the rules are the same after seven innings as in a nine (9) inning game. A seven inning game is a regulation game after five (5) innings if the trailing team has batted five (5) times.

Tied games in the amateur ranks are subject to specific league rules. This also applies to non-complete games.

4.11  Read the rule. It is self-explanatory.

4.12  Read this rule also. Know it and understand it. Local leagues may have different rulings for suspended games as to whether they re-start from the beginning or resume at a later date.

 “Remember: Determining when it is too dark to continue is difficult. Always err on the side of SAFETY. If, as an umpire, you have a doubt as to when it will become too dark, call the game off at the beginning of an inning. Not in the middle of an inning. If you do continue and it becomes too dark, call it at your discretion anyway. You can do that at any time you see fit. It is solely the umpire’s call.

4.13  Doubleheaders – this gives a time interval of 20 minutes after the first game, not to exceed 30 minutes. We usually say 20 minutes because they ask us. However, tell them when they are ready within reason. We can start when the pitchers are warmed up properly.

4.14  Usually in non-pro ball the home team turns the lights on at a certain time. If you believe it is getting too dark, request the lights be turned on anytime. However it is wise to have them turned on at the beginning of an inning. It is solely the umpire’s decision. USE WISDOM

4.15 This rule deals with forfeiting games. Forfeits do not happen very often but don’t be real strict with them in amateur ball. There may be circumstances that would allow you to extend the starting time and it would not be in the spirit of the game if you call it not knowing a complete team will be able to play within a reasonable period of time. Be flexible. However if both teams have nine players, the game should start on time.

For example: If the game is scheduled for 6 PM the first pitch should be thrown at 6 PM.

Some leagues have set a specific time that nine players must be ready to play before the game is forfeited. MLB rule book says five(5) minutes!

4.15(b) through (g)  Gives specific guidelines as to reasons for a forfeiture. Know them.


Read the following story, “Shippensburg Awarded the West Shore Crown, from the Harrisburg, PA newspaper  Patriot-News. It was about rule 4.15 in paragraph (b). Denny and I have umpired many times for these two teams

4.16 – 4.18  Gives examples of specific forfeitures. Learn them.

4.19  In accordance to the rule book protesting games must pertain to rules, not umpire judgments.

If a protest is initiated, the score books must be signed where and what time in the game the protest was made. The game continues to completion. The protesting team reports it to the league.

The umpire must announce the game is being played under protest. The protest must be before the next pitch or play continues. If the protest is being made on a game ending play, it must be filed before 12 noon the following day according to the MLB rule book. Local leagues may have other provisions for filing game ending protests.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *