Texas League Rules

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 in 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.
  • 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 dragging the field and locking up all equipment.
  • Before covering up home plate and the pitching mound please lightly water the dirt first and 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).
3. Time Limit and Run Limit for Games
  • No new innings will start from the last recorded 3rd out after 1 hour and 20 minutes from the start of the game
  • The game will end at the earlier of 1 hour 40 minutes after the game starts or 9:30pm curfew
  • 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. (Fall Ball - Runs will be Limited to three (3) per half-inning for all innings.)
  • 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, their 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 scorebook 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 score board.
  • In the cases of a forfeit resulting in teams unable to field at least 9 players the score will be recorded 6-0 in the favor of the winning team (Rule 2.00)
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.  The pitcher-coach should attempt several pitches before the first batter of each half-inning to ensure accuracy.  This should be done sparingly and may be rejected by the umpire.  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 runners may be sent back to a previous base or called out if the pitcher-coach gives aid to runners after the ball is in play.
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, 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).
  • 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 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.  This only applies to the first throw after a batted ball to any base.  "Overthrow" is defined as a ball thrown past the fielder.
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.
11. Appeals
  • 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.
  • 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 less 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 play-off’s the Player Agent will make an attempt to replace a comparable pool player from eliminated teams with League Representative approval.
  • If these regulations 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.
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
  • Regular season co-champions are possible if more than one team has equal Win-Loss-Tie percentage records
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 play-off’s 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

  1. 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.
  2. When batting with a big lead and the game is mathematically out of reach DO NOT STEAL.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. When you are the winning team, help clean up the field even if it's the other teams responsibility.
  6. Do not argue umpire calls.  Feel free to report them to your league rep so they can be addressed.

 

 

 

Helpful Hints for Texas League

Thank you for volunteering to coach/manage Texas League baseball this season. Texas League is the first division that keeps score, standings and has post-season playoffs. It is also the first time for many new coaches to experience winning and losing. With that said, Texas League is INSTRUCTIONAL baseball. These kids are just learning the game. The following are some helpful hints to make your Texas League experience a memorable one. These tips will also help the game run more efficiently.

  • Managers should have an idea of their batting order and defensive positions prior to arriving, yet be flexible, knowing that if a player is absent changes will take place.
  • Assign assistant coaches to specific duties. I.e., dugout coach should manage batting order, have catchers ready to go with two outs and maintain order in the dugout. Sometimes it is best to have two adults assigned to this duty. The pitching coach should be ready to take their position and have an extra baseball in case of a foul ball. Please have a towel ready during wet/muddy conditions.
  • It has been discussed that the team’s manager should not be the pitching coach. This gives the manager ample time to get defensive positions in order, catchers ready and address other issues as they develop.
  • Regarding catchers, at this level it is difficult to find players who are comfortable behind the plate. Trying out potential catchers should happen in practice. Experimenting during games could potentially cause delays. Catcher’s equipment should also be sized during practice sessions. Catchers must wear a protective cup and a throat guard. Shin guards are designed for the buckles to be worn on the outside. Please remember that during the pre-game meeting when the umpire asks if players are properly and legally equipped, and the manager certifies they are, the penalty for a player who is not properly equipped is ejection of the manager.

 

Safety tips include:

  • When your team takes the field, PLEASE teach your players to “go around the machine”. We have seen kids get hit before from “practice pitches”.
  • There is no on-deck position in Little League baseball. Those waiting their turn at bat should remain behind the painted yellow line in the dugout. No one should have a bat in their hands except the batter.
  • Pitchers must also wear a protective cup and a helmet. Pitchers must be positioned behind the pitching machine legs prior to the ball being released.
  • Four coaches including the manager are allowed in the dugout. Coaches should remain in the dugout unless coaching 1st/3rd or pitching. There must always be one adult in the dugout at all times. The dugout is not a gathering area for parents and siblings. The pitching coach is not allowed to give the baserunner instructions.
  • Do not let players out of the dugout until playing action has stopped. This includes the next batter and players assigned to pick up bats between hitters.

 

Speed up tips include:

  • It is important to start games on time and to stay on schedule, therefore infield and outfield practice prior to games may be cut short or not allowed at all. If there is a game immediately following yours, please clear the dugout area as soon as possible.
  • If your team wants to adjust the machine, please do this between innings. It is the umpire’s discretion to allow this during an at bat. Adjusting the machine on every pitch only delays the game.
  • Have your catcher geared up and ready to go with two outs, provided that they are not “on-deck or in the hole”.
  • If the grass in damp or playing conditions are poor, please have extra baseballs and towels available to keep balls and machine dry.
  • Infielders and outfielders should not warm up between innings. This has the potential to cause delays and injuries.
  • With two outs or four runs, catchers should be run for. The player recording the last out should run for the catcher in this situation. This helps speed up the game if all parties are tuned in.
  • Home team should keep the official book. Umpires appreciate it when the official scorer updates them with the score. It is not the umpire’s responsibility to keep score.

 

Managing/coaching tips include:

  • Managers set the example of good sportsmanlike behavior and should hold their players, coaches, and parents accountable as such. There has been discussion regarding aggressive base coaches. It is better to HOLD a runner at 2nd or 3rd and allow the batter the opportunity to drive in the run. Aggressive baserunning takes the bat away from your kids. Umpires have been instructed to kill the play immediately to prevent aggressive baserunning. Base coaches need to understand this concept as well.
  • If there is a questionable call, only the team’s manager may have a discussion with an umpire. Please remember that judgement calls such as ball/strike, safe/out, fair/foul can not be argued. Discussion over rules interpretation is allowed but should not delay the game. Umpires will put themselves in the best position to see the play but remember that Texas League uses only one umpire and sometimes it is difficult to see everything.
  • No new inning will begin after 1:20. If the home team has a lead and is batting when time expires, the game will be called at that time. If the home team is mathematically eliminated, they will be allowed to bat until time has expired, then the game will be called. Teams who manipulate the clock will be subject to disciplinary action by the league. The umpire is the official timekeeper.

Pitching machine tips:

  • Pitching machine coaches should become very familiar with how to deliver consistent strikes.
  • Machine coaches should setup and test the machines well prior to first pitch.
  • Brand new baseballs tend to result in higher pitches.
  • Worn baseballs tend to result in lower pitches.
  • Put the ball in the same way each time.  4 seem is preferable, just drop the ball in.
  • Forcing the ball in the machine generally results in higher pitches.
  • When adjusting the machine, (in between innings), the slightest movement will result in huge deviations.  Practice adjusting the machine over and over so during the game you do not have to call time and delay the game if an adjustment is needed.
  • Gently pushing down on the top of the machine while pitching will result in lower pitches.
  • Gently pulling up on the machine while pitching will result in higher pitches.
  • If the machine is consistently pitching inside or outside, gently tapping on the blue base pole with your foot in the opposite direction will resolve this - but do this in between innings.
  • Your only job as pitching machine coach is to deliver consistent strikes.  It's not fun when you strike out your players on bad pitches (and this will happen many times).  You can avoid this with lots of practice with the machines.
  • Do not delay the game by constantly asking for time to adjust the machine, the above minor adjustments can be done without slowing down the game.
  • Managers - avoid putting a new coach on the machine for the first during during a game.

 

And remember: Your child’s success or lack of success in sports does not indicate what kind of parent you are. But having an athlete that is coachable, respectful, a great teammate, mentally tough, resilient and tries their best IS a direct reflection of your parenting.

Have a great season!!!

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Bellaire Little League
P.O. Box 2016
Bellaire, Texas 77402