by Judy McCauley
(San Antonio, Texas)
Pitcher On The Mound, In contact With The Rubber, Stretch Position
Judy asked: I was watching baseball on Fox.
The pitcher dropped the ball accidentally and the runner was allowed to score.
I am new to baseball but I've never seen that.
Is it a new rule?
Rick answered: Judy, thank you for your question.
It is not a new rule; but one, at the professional level, happens less frequently than it does in amateur levels.
The call from the umpire is"balk". Once the pitcher is on top of the mound, with the baseball, in contact with the pitching rubber and he starts into his motion towards home plate, he must deliver the pitch.
If he feels off balance and decides to stop his delivery, it is a balk.
If he drops the baseball during that action, it is a balk.
If there are no runners on base, the pitch becomes a ball.
If there is a runner, or runners, on base, the pitch becomes a balk, the ball becomes dead, and each of the runners advances one base.
In the stretch position pitchers can be called for a balk, for a simple twitch of the leg, a shoulder movement, anything that might be construed as an attempt to deceive the runner.
Yours in baseball,
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