Baseball Instruction/Rule 7.13
Dear Mr. Senger,
I am assisting a coach for a 11/12 year old team. My experience has been with a team years ago in another state and we followed rule 7.13 regarding a runner leaving the base "after the ball reaches the batter". We have had no instruction from the league or umpires to disregard the rule. The coach of our team, once realizing the other teams were running at will followed suit and we have a "track meet" during each game.
I want to convince our coach to follow the rules and am going to present the rule to him in writing and ask that he ask umpires to enforce the rule. I have printed the rule from the internet but am a bit confused as to how a coach forces the rule to be applied.
Can you advise?
Also, do you have information on how and why rule 7.13 was established so I can have ammunition for a meeting with league officials if it occurs?
Richard E Norris
I'm not experienced with the history of Little League rules. However, in my experience I've found that the rule you mention is to make it harder for base runners to steal bases. With the younger ages, as I'm sure you've seen, the catchers aren't skilled in attempting to throw out base stealers, so the rule delays the time the base runner can begin attempting their steal.
As for how to get the rule enforced, I'm surprised the umpires are allowing it to happen. If this is something you've seen from all umpires, it's possibly best to bring the matter to someone above the umpires, such as an umpire-in-chief or a member of the board of the organization. Ignoring the rule is only making the game worse and, in some way, ill-equipping your players for tournaments or other games with umpires who know and follow the rules.
My worry is that bringing it to an umpire's attention before the game may not help. It's possible the umpire is ignorant of the rule. If he doesn't know the rule (or worse, hasn't been taught the rule), I don't think making a mention of it at the plate conference is going to change what he does.