Listed here are some of the questions most frequently asked of an umpire. If you have a question to ask the umpire, please forward to


Q: Is arguing with the umpire a part of the game?

A: No. Arguing with the umpire is NOT a part of the game.

From time to time an umpire may make a call that a player doesn't like, but this does NOT entitle a player or coach to argue with or be abusive toward the umpire.

Most umpires, if approached in a non-hostile manner, will happily explain a rule or explain why he made his call the way he did, but most umpires have zero tolerance for argumentative or abusive players and will usually remove said player from the game immediately Rule 10 Sec 1 and/or Sec 4C and/ or Sec 10 B 1 pages 45-46-47.


Q: When are infielders and pitchers allowed to encroach the 50-foot line and when are runners permitted to leave their base to advance to next base?

A: There always seems to be a great deal of inconsistency concerning this; some players and some umpires incorrectly believe fielders are allowed to encroach only when bat makes contact, or some believe once the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand, or some when the batter swings.

The rule: Once a pitched ball crosses the front of the plate fielders can encroach the 50-foot line; this is also when runners can legally leave bases without being called for leadoffs. .Rule 5 Sec 5 page 22 (fielder) Rule 8 Sec 5a page 32 (runner)

(The idea here is, once the ball crosses the front of the plate it is either immediately hit or becomes a dead ball so neither fielders or runners gain any advantage.)


Q: When can infielders and pitcher advance on attempted bunts?

A: Again, there is much inconsistency here. Some players and umpires incorrectly believe fielders may encroach once the batter squares to show bunt, others insist it is only on contact.

Again, the rule is quite simple. There is no bunting in SPN rulebook but some leagues or tournaments have chosen to allow bunting in their games.

Unless specifically stated otherwise in the individual league rule sheet, this same encroachment rule stated above would be valid even in leagues that permit bunting ie fielders can advance once the ball has crossed the front of the plate.


Q: How are bases awarded on overthrows? More specifically, if a runner is heading back to first base and there is an overthrow does the runner get awarded second or third base?

A: The rule: Once a thrown ball goes out of bounds all runners advance two bases from the last base legally held at the time of the throw. Rule 8-7G page 35.

This means even if a ball is thrown out of bounds during a rundown while the runner was heading back to first base, he still is awarded two bases from last base legally held which was first base, so in this scenario the runner is awarded third base. It is NOT the base he is going to, plus one as many players erroneously believe.


Q: What is the rule for diamonds that do not have an outfield fence, when a batted fair ball leaves the playing area and enters into trees or into a parking lot?

A: Some individual league rule sheets can be quite creative with this depending on whether ball left the field in the air or bounced out, or whether it was to the left of this tree or the right of that garbage can. This is all nonsense.

Once a batted ball leaves a playing field that has no outfield fence, (whether it bounces out, rolls out, flies out, or is deflected out by a fielder) the play is dead and the batter is awarded a ground rule double. The batter and all runners are awarded two bases from the time of the pitch, regardless of where they were when the ball actually left the playing field.

Rule 8-Sec 7b page 34


Q: Can you explain the infield fly rule? When is it called, and how can it be an infield fly if the ball is caught on the outfield grass? Is an infield fly a dead ball or live ball, and can runners legally advance?

A The infield fly rule is perhaps one of the least understood rules. There are two basic criteria for the infield fly rule to be in effect:

1) There must be runners on 1st and 2nd base, or bases loaded with less than two out;

2) The ball must be a popup that can be caught with ordinary effort by an infielder.

The ball is live, runners can advance at their own risk whether the ball is caught or not but the batter is definitely out, whether the ball is caught or not. Remember, the key here is a ball that can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort. Whether the infielder is standing in the infield or standing on the outfield grass does not alter the fact that it is an infield fly.

(The umpire will call “infield fly” once he has determined the ball to be catchable with ordinary effort). Rule 3-48 page 16.


Q: I don’t understand the BC Nine Rule. If we play with only nine players do we take an auto out? Can we insert a late-arriving player in the line up midway through the game? Do we still need to take an auto out even if we have the correct number of females in the batting order?

A: The BC Nine Rule is normally implemented only in Qualifiers or BC Provincial Tournament events but may also be used in regular league or tournament play. The purpose of the rule is to allow teams that have a minimum of nine players to avoid losing by forfeit.

In Co-ed division, if the late arriving player arrives before his first at bat he may be inserted into the game immediately. If the late player is not present for his first at bat, an auto out will now be in effect for the entire game and player is not allowed to enter the game except as a substitute.

In Men’s, Women’s, Masters or Seniors divisions, teams may start with nine players without taking an auto out however, a team that starts with nine players must finish with nine players ie late arriving player is not allowed to enter the game except as substitute.

* Note: The SPN rule book is a national publication, which means it does not contain the BC Nine Rule.