On deck circle
(Wood Dale IL)
Photo Bill Stanton: Checkswing.com
Eugene asked: We were in a recent tournament where the umpire would not let the on deck batter stand in the on deck circle to take practice swings. He made the batter stand outside the playing area behind the fence to take practice swings. Their was a designated circle for the on deck batter on the field. Is their an on deck circle rule that the umpire can inforce?
Rick answered: Thank you for your question Eugene.
There are on deck circle rules, and they vary level to level, league to league. Mainly they take on a recomended distance from home plate, with a clarifying statement which says if the on deck circle is located a safe distance away from home plate.
Little League rule 1.08
Note 1: The on deck position is not permitted in Tee Ball, minor league or Little League Majors division.
Note 2: Only the first batter of each half inning will be permitted outside the dugout between half innings in Tee Ball, Minor league or Little League major Division.
Federation rule 2-3
The on deck circle should be to the side and away from home plate, 37 feet if space allows. Neither teams players shall warm up in the other teams on deck circle.
The on deck circle does not have to be occupied; but if a player wishes to warm up, he shall do so only in his teams on deck circle, provided the on deck circle is
located safely away from home plate.
Ultimately, due to the vague wording in the rule books, it will fall under the umpires judgement as to what is safe, or not safe.
Sounds like that may be what happened in your situation. The umpire may have felt that the location of the circles was just not safe, so he moved the players outside the fence. That is always an option if they have a concern.
There is such a wide variance in the design and available space for baseball fields. We played on some a few years ago in San Diego where the backstop was no further behind the umpire than the length of his arm. The backstop had an extended wing up both sides, to protect the dugouts which were located right there. These schools were land locked, had used every available bit of ground to be able to have a playable fair territory, had nothing left over.
On deck hitters warmed up behind the dugout bench.
Sure changes the game. Catchers don't need to block, the ball can't go anywhere. Very different feel.
You didn't say what the level or league you are in; but all should have something written as to the on deck circle, even if it's as vague as the Federation one.
Even with a written rule, ultimately the head umpire would have the authority to make a change if he/she felt there was a safety issue.
Yours in baseball,