Umpire Compensation

Only scheduled youth umpires are paid. Umpires are paid at concession immediately after the game if concession is open, or when concession is next open. Full fees are paid for partial games rained out or where the plate umpire is present at the scheduled game start time and has to call the game for rain, but not for games cancelled in advance of game time.


Umpire pay for Juniors games, paid to umpires of all ages excluding League volunteers. Paid by etransfer at the direction of the Umpire in Chief. Juniors game umpires are not paid from concession.


Umpires for the post-season District 6 & Provincials tournaments (All-Stars) are paid by District 6 and not by SVLL. Umpires for home games July and later (exhibition games, Summer Ball, and Fall Ball games) will be paid by the game organizer.

Umpire Decisions

Hit by pitch (HBP)

A batter hit by a pitch is NOT automatically entitled to first base.

If a batter is hit by a pitch outside the strike zone that he/she is not attempting to hit, then the batter is entitled to 1st base. (6.08.b.) (The rule stipulates that the batter must attempt to avoid being hit, but in LL that is pretty much ignored because most kids are incapable of "taking one for the team". They either dive or freeze in fear.)

However if the batter was attempting to hit the ball, or if the point of contact was within the strike zone, then it is a strike and nothing more. The ball is immediately dead and no runners may advance. (6.08.b. APPROVED RULING) If a play subsequently occurs then it must be nullified and runners must return to the last base occupied.

There is a well-known baseball myth that the batter's hands are part of the bat. That is meaningless nonsense. It does not matter what part of the batter is hit. Only two things matter: Whether or not the hit occurred within the strike zone; and whether or not the batter was attempting to hit the ball, either swinging or bunting. If either are true, then it is a strike and if strike 3 the batter is out.

Richard Rickard, Umpire-in-Chief, 2015

Late entry

A protest was lodged over a late entry into the lineup, in the 4th inning. The argument was that: The player was:

  1. Not on the official batting order submitted to the umpire at the beginning of the game.
  2. Not recorded in the official scorebook at the beginning of the game
  3. Not present at the field at the beginning of the game.

My response was: This protest is denied. The pertinent rules are:

  1. SVLL In-House Rules 5.b.: “Late players may be added to the end of the batting roster by the Manager (per Rule 4.04)”
  2. Rule 4.04 (last sentence): “Also, if a child arrives late to a game site, if the manager chooses to enter him/her in the lineup (see Rule 4.01 NOTE), he/she would be added to the end of the current lineup.”
  3. Rule 4.01 NOTE 2 “Rostered players who arrive at the game site after a game begins may be inserted into in the lineup, if the manager so chooses.”

Following a request for clarification... A “rostered player” is a player on the team, as determined by the player draft at the start of season and evidenced by subsequent participation in games and practices. In other words, a recognized team member, not a call-up or borrowed player.

Richard Rickard, Umpire-in-Chief, 2015

Rule book on the field

A coach brought out a rule book to settle an issue. The opposing team’s coach objected saying that it’s not allowed to bring a rule book onto the field. That is a myth. There is no rule against having a rule book on the field. I remember this question coming up in an umpires clinic I attended many years ago and the veteran umpire leading the clinic actually recommended that umpires always carry a copy of the rule book with them on the field. His reasoning was that it’s better to spend a few minutes on the field with the book to settle a rules question rather than risk a protest and having to replay an entire game.

"There ain't no rule in the rule book about bringing a rule book on the field." (Earl Weaver, Hall of Fame manager - Baltimore Orioles 1968-82 and 1985-86)

Richard Rickard, Umpire-in-Chief 2014

Tag on batter/runner going to first

Ball hit to second baseman. Throw to first was off and first baseman bobbled and dropped the ball which rolled into foul territory in the direction of home. First baseman came up with the ball quickly but was now several steps from the bag so he elected to tag the runner rather than risk a race to the bag. Meanwhile runner from third crossed the plate before the tag was made. The offense argued that it was a tag play, therefore a timing play, and the run should score. I ruled otherwise: no run scored.

Explanation: Whether an out is a force out or not does not depend on how the runner is put out, merely where the out occurs. Any out on a runner forced to advance is a force out provided (a) the runner has not yet touched the base to which he or she is forced and (b) no following runner has been put out. Thus, any of the following are force outs:

  1. A forced runner is tagged before reaching the next base.
  2. The bag to which the runner is forced is touched before the runner reaches it.
  3. A runner is called out on appeal for missing a base to which he or she is forced.
  4. A runner is called out for a head-first slide before reaching a base to which he or she is forced. (Majors and below only)

Once a runner touches the base to which he or she is forced, any subsequent out made on that runner is no longer a force play. Similarly, if any following runner is put out, the force is removed. myth #33

Richard Rickard, Umpire-in-Chief 2014

Appeal on runner missing home plate

Runner came home safely but failed to touch the plate, which was noted by the umpire, who said nothing. The offensive coach at third also saw it. But it was clear that the defense had not seen the missed base because they did nothing and said nothing. This is an appeal play, the onus is on the defense to act. Since an appeal has to be made before the next pitch the best thing for the offensive coach to have done would have been nothing, just let play continue. Instead, the offensive coach requested time and called the runner back. But this only created a conundrum because an appeal can only be made when the ball is live. Similarly a run cannot score during a timeout. The only chance for the offense in such a situation would be to position the runner near the plate and wait for the umpire to put the ball back in play so the runner could step on the plate. But by calling time they alerted the defense to the runner’s mistake so now the defense will be prepared to try to make an appeal. You can probably imagine what a mess that might become! So, the point is: in the case of a missed base and an appeal, do NOT request time, whether on offense or defense.

Another rule relevant to the scenario above is this: Once a runner has entered the dugout that runner may not return and touch the missed plate.

Richard Rickard, Umpire-in-Chief 2014

Run into batted ball

I have written about this rule before, but in a scenario where the runner was NOT out. Today’s comment involves scenarios where the batter/runner IS out. I have received 2 inquiries on this topic:

1. When a batter bats or bunts and runs, and runs into the ball, why are they out? Does it matter where the ball hits their body? What if the ball has bounced or rolled and then hits them?
2. This one happened to N--- last night. Bunted a ball way over his head directly down into fair... ball has back spin on it, and N--- steps out at front of plate in fair territory in front of batter box... ball spins and hits him in stomach waist area.

Governing rules:

5.09 - “The ball becomes dead and runners advance one base, or return to their bases, without liability to be put out, when - (f) a fair ball touches a runner or an umpire on fair territory before it touches an infielder including the pitcher, or touches an umpire before it has passed an infielder other that the pitcher. Runner hit by a fair batter ball is out.”

7.08 - “Any runner is out when – (f) touched by a fair ball in fair territory before the ball has touched or passed an infielder. The ball is dead and no runner may score, no runners may advance, except runners forced to advance.”

Why are they out? It is interference: the batter has interfered with a fair batted ball before the defense has had an opportunity to make a play on it. This is fairly common in bunt situations, either the ball comes back at them (as described in scenario 2), or the ball dribbles down the first base line and the batter/runner inadvertently kicks it while running to the bag. In these scenarios it is usually obvious that the ball has not yet passed an infielder so the call is an easy one. However, an important consideration is the batter’s box. The batter is protected by the box. If the batter has even part of one foot still in the box when a back-spinning ball hits him, it is a foul ball; but if both feet are out of the box at the time and the ball is in fair territory when it strikes the batter, the batter is out. Nothing else matters: not where it hits the batter, not whether it has bounced, rolled or whatever.

In addition to bunt scenarios runner interference with a fair batted ball is sometimes seen on the base paths between 1st and 2nd, or between 2nd and 3rd. Runners advancing on ground balls hit into these areas sometimes misjudge either their own speed or the speed of the ball and as a result run into or kick a ground ball. If the infielders are playing deep and the runner contacts the ball before it has passed an infielder, then the runner is out.

Reminder: There is a stack of LL Rule Books in the score shack, on the umpires’ shelf (top shelf at back); help yourself.

Richard Rickard, Umpire-in-Chief 2013

Balk rule

There is no balk rule in Little League; the comparable rule is called Illegal Pitch, and the penalty is a ball. I typically see this when, as the pitcher goes into the wind-up and takes his eyes off the batter, the batter squares to bunt, the pitcher's eyes come back to the batter squared off and the pitcher is surprised and stops his/her action. I've seen that twice already this season in the Majors.

Warnings are entirely at the discretion of the umpire; there is nothing said about that in either the house rules or the D-6 Interlock rules. I used to sometimes give the pitcher a warning in the first week of the season but I stopped doing that. Pitchers need to learn the rule and awarding the batter one ball is hardly an onerous penalty.

The rule is 8.05 - An illegal pitch when a runner or runners are on base is when (a) the pitcher, while touching the plate, makes any motion naturally associated with the pitch and fails to make such delivery; (e) the pitcher makes a quick pitch. Umpires will judge a quick pitch as one delivered before the batter is reasonably set in the batter’s box; and (j) the pitcher, while touching the plate, accidentally or intentionally drops the ball.

The entire rule is nearly a full page long. See the rule book for the complete explanation. There is a stack of 2013 LL Rule Books in the score shack, on the top shelf at back; help yourselves if you don’t already have one.

Richard Rickard, Umpire-in-Chief 2013

Catcher blocking


When is it considered "blocking" when the catcher stands over home plate or just in front?

If catcher is "waiting for ball to be thrown in" and it has not been thrown yet... is that blocking? Should they instead be standing behind plate or in front? If a child is coming home, how can that child get to home without injuring the catcher and yet not compromising time to get to home safely? Should they slide to try to avoid collision and risk kicking them? If they run around, that could cost time and also go off baseline.


All 3 of these questions are related. Although the questioner uses the term “blocking”, the proper baseball term is “Obstruction” and the relevant answers are addressed at least 3 places in the LL rule book:

2.00 – DEFINITION OF TERMS “OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball, impedes the progress of any runner. A fake tag is considered obstruction. (NOTE: Obstruction shall be called on a defensive player who blocks off a base, base line or home plate from a base runner while not in possession of the ball.)”

7.06 – “When the obstruction occurs, the umpire shall call or signal ‘Obstruction’.” “(a) If a play is being made on the obstructed runner, or if the batter-runner is obstructed before touching first base, the ball is dead and all runners shall advance without liability to be put out, to the bases they would have reached, in the umpire’s judgment, if there had been no obstruction.” . . . “(b) If no play is being made on the obstructed runner, the play shall proceed until no further action is possible. The umpire shall then call ‘Time’ and impose such penalties, if any, as in that umpire’s judgment will nullify the act of obstruction.” . . .

7.08 – “Any runner is out when – “ . . . “(a) (3) the runner does not slide or attempt to get around a fielder who has the ball and is waiting to make the tag;”

Obstruction is a judgment call. When there is contact between a runner and a fielder on the base line it’s clearly obstruction, but when there is no contact, it’s more challenging. If the runner clearly has to slow down or move laterally to avoid contact and doing so slows him down such that he is thrown out at the next bag, then that too is obstruction and the out should be nullified. However, if the runner reaches the next bag safely and in the umpire’s judgment the runner could have gone no farther regardless of the obstruction, then there is no penalty. In other words, a runner is NOT automatically entitled to an extra base on obstruction. The proper decision for an umpire when obstruction occurs is to ensure that the outcome of a play is as the umpire thinks it would have been if the obstruction had not occurred.

Richard Rickard, Umpire-in-Chief 2013

Runner hit by batted ball

The situation: Runners on 1 and 2. 1st baseman playing well inside. Batter hits sharp grounder into gap about 1/3 way from 1st to 2nd. 1st baseman charges the ball and just misses; 2nd baseman has no chance. R1 going to 2, a good 6’ behind 1st baseman, runs into fair batted ball, which is deflected into the infield. Runner reaches 2 safely. The manager of the defense comes out and argues that the runner should be called out for interfering with a fair batted ball. The umpires confer and agree on a decision. “That was nothing”. The manager disagreed and said, of the fact that an infielder had a chance to play the ball, “That doesn’t matter.”

Governing rule: 5.09 - “The ball becomes dead and runners advance one base, or return to their bases, without liability to be put out, when - (f) a fair ball touches a runner or an umpire on fair territory before it touches an infielder including the pitcher, or touches an umpire before it has passed an infielder other that the pitcher. Runner hit by a fair batter ball is out. NOTE: If a fair ball goes through, or by an infielder and touches a runner immediately back of said infielder or touches a runner after being deflected by an infielder, the ball is in play and the umpire shall not declare the runner out. In making such decision, the umpire must be convinced that the ball passed through, or by, the infielder and that no other infielder had the chance to make a play on the ball...”

Richard Rickard, Umpire-in-Chief 2013