Ruling on a Balk
(Grand Rapids, MI)
Jordan asked: I was recently umpiring a baseball game and I was the field umpire.
My partner that was behind the plate called a balk that basically ended the game because it put a runner in scoring position.
What happened was the pitcher threw the pitch; but the batter was not set yet and was still bringing his foot into the box from getting his signs.
My partner called a balk on the pitcher for not waiting for the batter to be "reasonable set".
I always thought this was just a no pitch, but I just want to make sure he made the right call.
Rick answered: Jordan, thank you for your question.
The rule covering this particular situation is Rule 6 Sec 1 Pitching Art 1...The pitcher shall pitch while facing the batter from either a windup position or a set position. The position of his feet determine whether he will pitch from the windup or set position. He shall take his sign from the catcher with his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher's plate.
The pitching regulations begin when he intentionally contacts the pitcher's plate. Turning the shoulders to check the runners while in contact with the pitcher's plate in the set position is legal. Turning the shoulders after bringing the hands together during or after the stretch is a balk.
He shall not make a quick-return pitch in an attempt to catch the batter off balance.
Plate umpires almost always will have a hand extended towards the pitcher until the batter gets himself completely in the box, at which time he will signal the pitcher he can go.
The pitcher must have just gone ahead, whether looking for an advantage, or just lost his focus.
Sounds like a costly error on his part, moving the runner into scoring position.
Plate umpire's call was correct, even if he hadn't extended a hold on the pitcher.
Yours in baseball,