Batting out of order
(Gig Harbor, WA)
Lineup cards at home plate
Mandy asked: My son plays for a 16u team.
We recently had the opposing team bat out of order due to confusion with subs and re-entering.
We brought it to the attention of our coach and the other coach heard. He called time and tried to fix it, but didn't.
We waited for the out of order batter to take the first pitch, then called it. My question is varied.
First, the sportsmanlike question. At what point do you bring attention to an error like this to the opposing team?
If you wait for the batter to hit, and he strikes out, do you wait for the next batter and then call it as a strategic out?
What are the scenarios? Thank you!
Rick answered: Mandy, thank you for your question.
The rule covering this situation is Rule 7 Batting:
Section 1 Position and Batting Order Art 1...Each player of the team at bat shall become the batter and shall take his position within the batter's box, on either side of home plate, in the order in which his name appears on the lineup card as delivered to the umpire prior to the game. This order shall be followed during the entire game except that an entering substitute shall take the replaced player's place in the batting order.
A batter is in proper order if he follows the player whose name precedes his in the lineup, even though such preceding batter may have batted out of order. An improper batter is considered to be at bat as soon as he is in the batter's box and the ball is live.
When the improper batter's infraction is first discovered by either team, time may be requested and the improper batter replaced by the proper batter, with the improper batter's ball and strike count still in effect, provided the infraction is detected before the improper batter is put out or becomes a base runner.
Only the defensive team may appeal batting out of order after the has completed his time at bat. Any outs made on the play stand. An out for batting out of order supersedes an out by the improper batter on a play. While the improper batter is at bat, if a runner advances because of a stolen base, balk, wild pitch or passed ball, such advance is legal.
Art.2...After the first inning, the first batter in each inning shall be the player whose name follows that of the last batter who completed his time at bat in the preceding inning.
Penalties for Batting Out of Order(Art 1 and 2):
- A batter shall be called out, on appeal, when he fails to bat in his proper turn and another batter completes a time at bat in his place.
- When an improper batter becomes a runner or is put out and the defensive team appeals to the umpire before the first legal or illegal pitch, or, play or attempted play, or prior to an intentional base on balls or before the infielders leave the diamond if a half inning is ending, the umpire shall declare the proper batter out and return all runners to the base occupied at the time of the pitch.
- When an improper batter becomes a runner or is put out and a legal pitch or illegal pitch has been delivered to the succeeding batter, or an intentional base on balls has occurred, or all infielders have left the diamond if a half inning is ending, and before an appeal is made, the improper batter becomes the proper batter and the results of his time at bat become legal.
- When the proper batter is called out because he has failed to bat in turn, the next batter shall be the batter whose name follows that of the proper batter thus called out.
- When an improper batter becomes a proper batter because no appeal is properly made as above, the next batter shall be the batter whose name follows that of such legalized improper batter. The instant the improper batter's actions are legalized, the batting order picks up with the name following that of the legalized improper batter.
- Note: When several players bat out of order before discovery so that a player's time at bat occurs while he is a runner, such player remains on base, but he is not out as a batter.
As you described your situation, the opposing coach had the opportunity to correct his order, but somehow didn't manage to accomplish it.
When you called it to the attention of the umpire after the improper batter took his first pitch, the correction should have been made at that point for the opposing coach, by the umpire. He has the official copy of the lineup cards, with all changes having been made to him, and he in turn provides you with those changes.
He should have sorted out who the proper batter should be, and that batter replaces the improper batter, with the count 0-1 or 1-0, depending on what the first pitch was called.
If you had waited until the improper batter had completed his turn at bat, then appealed to the umpire, any outs made on the play would stand. An out for batting out of order supersedes an out by the improper batter on a play.
Where you run a risk in waiting is, if there are advancements by runners already on base by a stolen base, balk, wild pitch or passed ball, all advances are legal.
The defensive team is under no obligation to make the opposing team aware they are batting out of order. It would not be considered unsportsmanlike to appeal an out of order batter.
Hopefully that helps sort it out some. Baseball rules sometimes take on the language of a legal document, the way this rule is written is that way.
Yours in baseball,