TEXAS LEAGUE GROUND RULES
Video surveillance on BLL fields is for entertainment only! Never should or will video recordings or live feeds be used for game time management, or score verification or validation. Video review is not to be used for judgment calls made by umpires. The BLL Board does have the right to utilize recordings in investigating disciplinary actions of participating players and adults.
Texas league teams are limited to 3 touches per week. A touch is a practice or a game where at least 5 players are present. If a practice is rained out or cancelled, managers are free to reschedule the practice during the same week or move the practice to an indoor location so long as the team does not exceed 3 touches for the week.
1. Field Preparation, Pre-Game Warm-up, Field Shut Down
- 65 minutes before game -- home team uses field, visiting team uses cage. (For instance, with a 5:30 game, the visiting team has the cage from 4:25 to 4:55 - they must exit the cage at 4:55. For 7:30 games, the visiting team uses the cage from 6:25 to 6:55pm - they must exit the cage at 6:55.)
- 35 minutes before game -- home team uses cage, visiting team uses field. 5 minutes before game -- pregame conference with umpire.
- When there are successive games, the teams should allocate 5 minutes for the umpire pregame conference and then evenly divide the remaining time before the game starts for infield warm-ups for both teams, with the home team using the field first.
- When there are time restraints, the umpire may prohibit infield warm-ups for both teams.
- There is to be no soft toss of hitting off a tee into the fences. Please use the nets provided in the cages. Please also refrain from any hitting in area behind the first base dugout at Fox Field.
- A “double base” or “safety base” shall be used at first base (see LLI Rule 7.15).
- Managers shall exchange batting orders prior to the pre-game conference with the umpire.
- The batting order shall list the players’ jersey number and first and last names.
- Before the game, the home team is responsible for getting the field ready for play.
- After the game, the visiting team is responsible for locking up all equipment.
- Before covering up home plate and the pitching mound please lightly water the dirt firstand then cover.
2. Number of Coaches, Assignment of Dugouts
- During game time there will only be four (4) coaches allowed in the dugout area, one (1) manager and three (3) coaches.
- The home team will occupy the 3rd base side and visitors will occupy the 1st base side dugout.
- The manager and coaches will remain on their side of the field during the game.
- Coaches should be behind the dugout fence or in the coach's box. No food or beverage will be allowed in the dugout except for water or sports drinks (except in cases of medical necessity).
- Dugout coaches should ensure that catchers are replaced with courtesy runners when appropriate per Section 9 and should assist players with putting on catcher’s gear to maintain pace of game.
3. Time Limit and Run Limit for Games
- No new innings will start after 1 hour and 20 minutes from the start of the game (Fall Ball: in regular season play, no new innings will start after 1 hour from start of game)
- The game will end at the earlier of 1 hour 40 minutes after the game starts or 9:30pm curfew (Fall Ball: in regular season play, game will end 1 hour 10 minutes after game starts)
- If the game is not completed by 9:30, and if both managers agree, the unfinished game would be allowed to end in a tie (unless the home team is ahead at that time, in which case the home team wins). If both managers do not agree to a tie, the remainder and finish of the game will be scheduled with the BLL Scheduler and in compliance with the League touch policy to complete (Spring only).
- Runs will be limited to five (5) per half-inning for all innings in regular season play. (Fall Ball - Runs will be Limited to three (3) per half-inning for all innings in regular season play.)
- The 10-run “mercy rule” of 4.10(e) does not apply in the regular season
- There are no extra innings. Tie games are allowed once 6 innings are completed.
- If the home team is mathematically eliminated during their last at bat, the game will conclude after 1:20 minutes has expired.
4. Batters -- No Fake Bunts, No Thrown Bats, No Infield Fly Rule
- Continuous batting order will be used.
- All batters and base runners must wear protective helmets with full face masks.
- Bats of all-wood construction are not allowed.
- Batters are not allowed to show bunt then swing away. If a batter "shows" bunt, the batter’s options are: (a) bunt, (b) offer or not offer at the bunt attempt, or (c) pull the bat back taking the pitch. Penalty: the ball becomes dead at the moment of the infraction and the batter shall be warned if the ball was missed or the batter is out if the ball was hit. No runner may advance.
- If a batter throws or wildly slings his bat after hitting (or attempting to hit) the ball to the extent that his coach and/or umpire believes other players are endangered, time-out will be called and the coach will discuss the infraction with the batter. If it happens again, in the same game, the batter may be called out, prohibited from batting further in the game, or ejected (umpire’s discretion).
- There is no infield fly rule.
5. Official Scorebook and Scoreboard
- The home team is responsible for keeping the official score and reporting the results to the League Rep. within 24 hours of the completion of the game.
- The visiting team shall be responsible for operating the scoreboard.
6. Pitches Thrown to Batter
- Batters will receive four (4) hittable (umpire’s discretion) pitches.
- Wild pitches, unless offered at or hit by the batter, will be called a "no pitch" and will not count in the total pitch count; provided, however, in recognition of the instruction which batters may receive that they must swing at the last pitch, the umpire may call a "no pitch" on the last pitch for a batter even though the batter swung at the pitch if the pitch otherwise would have been called a "no pitch."
- A “no pitch” is an immediate dead ball; therefore no runner may advance on a “no pitch” call by the umpire.
- The batter will be called out on the earlier of the third strike (swinging) or the fourth hittable pitch (if not fouled off or hit in play).
7. Pitching Machine and the Pitcher-Coach
- The pitching machine will be set at 38 mph.
- Only a coach or manager of the offensive team may feed the machine.
- The pitcher-coach may not wear a glove.
- The pitcher-coach shall not intentionally manipulate the pitching machine to cause wild pitches, including situations in which base runners are in position to steal bases. Any violation of this rule will be cause for ejection from the game.
- The pitcher-coach may request “time” from the umpire to adjust the pitching machine at any time during an at-bat (pitch count remains) or between batters. This request should be made sparingly and may be rejected by the umpire. The pitcher-coach should attempt several pitches before the first batter of each half-inning to ensure accuracy. Pitching coaches should become familiar with how to operate the machines during practice and before each game. See below pitching machine tips in the "Helpful Hints For Texas League."
- The pitching coach can not instruct base runners, that should be done by base coaches only. The first instance of a pitching coach instructing base runners in any capacity will result in a warning from the umpire. The second instance will result in the base runner being sent back to the previous base if a runner advanced. The third instance the pitching coach will be removed from the machine.
- For batters, quick instructions by the Pitching Coach such as "get closer to plate" or "back up toward catcher" are fine as long as there is not a delay in the game.
- The pitcher-coach must make every effort to avoid interfering with the ball in play and attempted plays by the defense. Interference may be called at the umpire's discretion if the pitcher-coach hinders the defense, and the batter or runners, as appropriate, may be called out for pitcher-coach interference at the umpire’s discretion.
8. Ball Strikes Pitching Machine or Pitcher-Coach
- If a batted ball strikes the pitching machine or the electrical cord prior to striking or being touched by any person on the field (including the pitcher-coach), the ball is dead; batter runner advances to first base and runners advance only if they are forced.
- If a batted ball is caught by the pitcher-coach, the batter is out and the ball is dead.
- If a thrown ball strikes the pitcher-coach or the pitching machine or the electrical cord (other than in a situation where the umpire has determined the pitching coach has interfered with the throw), the ball is alive and in play.
- If a thrown ball is caught by the pitcher-coach or lodged in the pitcher-coach’s clothing, the ball is dead.
9. Runners -- Courtesy Runner for Catcher, Stealing Bases
- If the catcher for the next half inning is on base and there are two (2) outs or four (4) runs, the catcher must be replaced with a courtesy runner (the player that made the last out). (Fall Ball regular season: catcher must be replaced with courtesy runner if there are two (2) outs or two (2) runs have been scored in the inning).
- After the first pitch, players are allowed to steal 2nd and 3rd bases only.
- Runners are not to leave a base on a steal until the ball reaches the batter.
- Players CANNOT steal home or advance past any base stolen on any over throw on a steal or any continuation of a play after a steal.
- Any runner who attempts a steal before they are entitled to steal (i.e., on the first pitch) or on a continuation of a play (i.e., attempting to steal more than one base), is at risk of being put out. Runners not put out on an improper attempted steal or continuation of play who safely achieve and hold the next base will be returned to the base occupied at the start of such play.
- On an overthrow runners may advance only one base at their own risk. Runners may only advance for an overthrow on the first throw after a batted ball to any base. "Overthrow" is defined as a ball thrown past the fielder. For example, a batter who hits a ground ball to shortstop may advance to second base at his or her own risk if the shortstop makes an overthrow on the play. The batter may not advance to third base if the first baseman subsequently makes an overthrow in attempting to throw the batter out at second base and remains at risk of being put out per the preceding bullet.
10. Continuation/Termination of a Play
- After a ball has been put into play from the machine, the ball shall be live until the point at which the umpire calls "time" or declares "dead ball."
- The umpire will stop play when any defensive infield player (including catcher) with possession and control of the ball has stopped the lead runner (judgment call).
- Runners advanced past the half-way marks will advance, unless that base is occupied in which case they will be returned to the last obtained base.
- Once play is stopped, the ball shall be returned to the pitcher-coach.
- A team may appeal a play after the ball is dead. To perfect the appeal, the manager may make the appeal to the umpire after the ball is dead.
12. Mandatory Play Rules
- Each player must start and finish each defensive inning played (subject to injuries or disciplinary action).
- No player may sit two (2) defensive innings until all players on the game roster have sat one (1) defensive inning. No player may sit two (2) consecutive defensive innings.
- By the end of the 4th inning, each player shall have played at least one (1) inning of infield and at least one (1) inning of outfield (for purposes of this “player rotation rule,” catcher shall be considered an outfield position).
- In the event one team starts the game with more players than the other team, the team with fewer players must rotate all players into an outfield position (includes catcher) at least two (2) times in a six (6) inning game or bench and outfield combined at least two (2) times in a six (6) inning game.
- Only the Executive Committee of the League will consider written requests from parents that their child not be required to play an infield position each game.
- If these mandatory play rules are not complied with for any reason, managers will be subject to review and possible disciplinary action by the League, which may include suspension from League play.
- In the event a team has 9 or fewer players, the team should request a pool player. By refusing to go to Player Pool at 9, the notification is too late, or Player Pool is unavailable the team playing with less than 10 will be required to play 9 as their own team, no borrowing a player from their opponent. Teams playing with 9 will also be required to take an OUT in the 10th spot in the batting order each time that 10th spot comes to bat. If both teams have 9 players, no 10th spot out will need to be taken.
- Pool players will be picked from season pool based on a random draw. If player from opposing team is picked, another player will be chosen. Once pool players have participated, they will not be available until all pool players have been contacted. In the post season the Player Agent will make an attempt to replace a comparable player from the eliminated teams with League Representative approval. There is no player pool in the Fall.
- The player pool player(s) should play in the outfield and should bat at the bottom of the order.
- If a team has fewer than 9 players because of player pool limitations, when at bat the team with less than 9 will be required to take an automatic out in the 9th batting spot and the 10th spot. When in the field the team with less than 9 players can borrow a player (the last batter from prior inning) from the opposing team and place in the outfield.
- In regular season the Player Agent will select the next available pool player
- In playoffs the Player Agent will make an attempt to replace a comparable pool player from eliminated teams with League Representative approval.
13. Defense – Number of Players, Positioning, Equipment
- A maximum of 10 players shall be permitted in the field on defense.
- Defensive players may be placed anywhere within the field of play, except as follows: one player shall be placed at the catcher's position, one player shall be placed at the pitcher's position, not more than four additional players may be placed at infield positions, and the remainder of the defensive players shall be stationed anywhere in the outfield.
- Pitchers must wear a protective helmet with full facemask. All male pitchers must also wear a cup. Pitchers must have at least one foot inside the pitching circle and behind the front legs of the pitching machine until the pitch is released.
- Infielders may not position themselves or advance toward home plate beyond the front legs of the machine until the pitch is released.
- Outfielders must begin and remain in the outfield at least 30 feet back from the infield during play. An Outfielder may not make an unassisted out on the infield. If so, an immediate dead ball will be ruled, runner is safe.
14. Intentional Delay or Otherwise Making a Travesty of the Game
- Causing players to intentionally perform poorly (including intentionally striking out, intentionally being put out, intentionally failing to record an out, or intentionally making wild pitches or throws) for the purpose of extending or shortening a game, or otherwise engaging in any action whose purpose is to manipulate the time or duration of the game (including repeated and unwarranted timeouts or replacement of players (including catchers), shall be considered making a travesty of the game.
- Willfully and knowingly disregarding the requirements of these Ground Rules and other applicable rules also shall be considered making a travesty of the game. In addition to ejection, additional penalties (up to and including forfeiture of a game and/or disqualification of the team, managers or coaches from further league or tournament participation) may be imposed if, in the opinion of the Disciplinary Committee of the Board of Directors of BLL, such additional penalties are warranted in light of the offending conduct.
15. Season Champions
- Regular season champions will be determined by Win-Loss-Tie percentage records.
- In the event of a tie in Win-Loss-Tie percentage records, regular season champion will be determined based on the following tiebreakers: (a) head-to-head results, (b) runs against over the entire regular season, then (c) runs for over the entire regular season
- Regular season co-champions are possible if tie cannot be broken based on the above tiebreakers
Texas League Post-Season Tournament Rules
To the extent there is a post-season tournament scheduled, the following additional rules shall apply unless otherwise amended by the League Representative or the Vice President of Operations of the Board of Directors of the League, who shall be the Tournament Official.
- The first game of the day will start when the schedule indicates; subsequent games will start 20 minutes after the conclusion of the preceding game or at the time the schedule indicates, whichever is earlier.
- Seeding will be based on regular season records (other than in the Fall, in which case the League Representative will determine seeding). In the event of a tie in season records, ties will be resolved by determining a winner based on (a) head-to-head results, if still tied then (b) runs against over the entire regular season, if still tied then (c) runs for over the entire regular season and if still tied (d) by coin toss.
- Highest seed will be home team (descending order with top seed #1, next #2, #3, #4, etc.)
- For tournament games, no new inning will start after 1:30, with no drop dead time limit (finish the last inning started). For the championship game and the if-necessary championship game, there shall be no time limits and the game will go 6 innings (unless run rule).
- The ten-run rule or mercy run rule defined in 4.10(e) is in effect for the tournament. The Championship Game mercy run rule will be 15 runs after 3 and ½ innings.
- All games shall be completed before 10:00pm, and shall be considered final if it has become a regulation game under Rule 4.10(c); provided that no game shall end in a tie. Tie games shall be continued until a winner is determined in accordance with the Rules.
- The “player rotation rule” in Section 11 shall be amended as follows: Each player must play at least one full inning in the infield (does not include catcher) prior to the completion of the fourth (4th) inning. There are no outfield rotation requirements, provided, however, if, at the start of the game, one team fields a roster with more players than the other team, the team with fewer players must rotate all players into an outfield position (including catcher) or bench at least once in a six inning game. The player pool will be available in the playoffs but the Player Agent will make an attempt to replace a comparable player from eliminated teams with League Representative approval.
- A maximum of five (5) runs may be scored by each team in each of the first three (3) innings of a game. Specifically, the home and visitors teams may each score up to five (5) runs in their respective half of each of the first three innings of each game. After three (3) innings, the number of runs that may be scored in each half inning is unlimited.
The "Unwritten" Rules of Texas League for Managers
Revised January 2023
- Do not be overly aggressive on the bases. If the ball is in the infield and the play is over, hold your runners and don't take extra bases. Do not try to get a cheap run. Do not play games on the bases to try to bait throws. This teaches bad base running and is not fair to the kids to take advantage of those that cannot throw and catch.
- When batting with a big lead and the game is mathematically out of reach DO NOT STEAL.
- When batting with a big lead and the game is mathematically out of reach do not take unnecessary extra bases to run up the score.
- When fielding with a big lead and the game is mathematically out of reach, put your weaker defenders in the infield. This serves two purposes. It gives the kids on your team a chance when they may not normally have one, and it makes it more likely that the other team will score and get some confidence. The "runs against" tie breaker only applies to playoff seeding, not regular season standings so don't try to shut out teams if the game is out of reach, give your other kids a chance on the infield.
- When you are the winning team, help clean up the field even if it's the other team’s responsibility.
- Do not argue umpire calls. Feel free to report them to your league rep so they can be addressed.Revised January 2023