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MAJOR A LEAGUE RULES

The Major A League is the more competitive of the two Major League levels in Brookline Youth Baseball (BYB).

Eligibility

To be eligible this spring, a player must be 10, 11 or 12 years old on April 30 of the current year. A player who turns 10 after May 1, or turns 13 earlier than April 30, is not eligible.

League Format

The Major A League is a competitive league that emphasizes skill development, team play, and sportsmanship. At this level, players are taught the various positions on the field and the responsibilities of those positions, and all players are given a chance to play different positions over the course of the season. The league is made up of six teams.

Schedule

During the regular season, each team plays two or three games per week — on weeknights (no earlier than 5:30 p.m.) and Sunday afternoons (starting times vary). The regular season is followed by playoffs, which conclude by the final day of the public school year. The playoffs consist of three rounds of best-of-three-game series, and all teams qualify.

Regular season and playoff games are scheduled by the league VP. Practices are scheduled by each team’s head coach according to coach, player, and field availability.

Player Selection/Team Formation

A player is assigned to Major A after thorough observation, evaluation, and discussion. Those involved in the decision include: the Major A League and Major B League VPs; members of the BYB Board of Directors who have knowledge of the player; the player’s coach during last year’s spring, summer, and/or fall season; the player’s instructor during any recent BYB clinics he/she attended; and coaches who observed the player at this year’s preseason tryout.

While the preseason tryout is only one piece of the evaluation process, a player who does not attend a tryout may be less likely to be assigned to Major A. (Note: Players who were on a Major A team last spring and are still age-eligible for Major A this spring are not required to attend a tryout. These players are automatically reassigned to the same team in Major A.)

As players are selected for Major A, all players of league age 11 or 12 are considered. In general, a 12-year-old player is selected ahead of an 11-year-old of similar ability; however, a 12-year-old is not assigned to Major A based on age alone if the player is likely to be overwhelmed by the higher level of competition. BYB’s goal is to place each player at the level where he/she has the best chance for a successful season and a positive baseball experience.

Teams are assembled by the Major A League VP, who consults the Major B League VP and Major A coaches. The objective is to construct teams that are comparable in talent so that the competition among them is as balanced as possible.

Umpires

Major A League umpires are adults who are certified and assigned by a professional umpire service, or experienced former BYB players of high school age who have been trained in umpiring. One or two umpires may be assigned for a game. If no assigned umpire arrives by the time the game is scheduled to begin, the two head coaches may, upon mutual agreement, select one or two of those in attendance (including themselves) to umpire the game.

Before each game, head coaches must meet with the umpires at home plate to review ground rules and other rules that are unique to BYB’s Major A League. During a game, only a head coach may discuss a play with an umpire. The head coach of the home team is responsible for paying the umpire.

Bats and Baseballs

Only wooden bats are allowed in this league; aluminum bats are not permitted. Wooden bats used in a game must be between 27 and 32 inches in length and no more than 32 ounces in weight. Regulation hard balls are used in all practices and games.

Questions

Any questions or concerns regarding the Major A League should be directed to the league VP. Questions or concerns about umpiring should be directed to the VP in charge of umpires. See the BYB website (www.brooklineyouthbaseball.org) for a list of VPs and their email addresses.

Game Rules

The Major A League uses the official Little League Baseball playing rules as a standard guide, amended by the following game rules.

Code of Conduct

BYB’s principal goal is to ensure an atmosphere of sportsmanship and civility. Other objectives, such as winning and personal performance, are secondary. The following Code of Conduct, which is based on these priorities, applies to all BYB games and practices.

All players, coaches, and spectators must:

  • Treat other players, coaches, spectators, and umpires with respect.
  • Refrain from: criticizing, insulting, taunting, blaming, or threatening another person; using foul language; and physically abusing another person.
  • Accept the decisions of umpires without complaint. (A head coach may question the application of a rule, but judgment calls may not be argued.)
  • Treat all equipment with care

In addition:

  • Players must play by the rules of the game and accept coaches’ decisions without complaint.
  • Head coaches must monitor the behavior of their players, assistant coaches, and spectators, and must act immediately to put a stop to unsportsmanlike behavior when it occurs.
  • All coaches must follow the rules, treat each player as an individual, recognize and reward effort as well as talent, and promote sportsmanship.
  • Spectators are encouraged to cheer and show appreciation for good plays and efforts made by both teams, and may not challenge or criticize a coach’s decision.

Zero Tolerance Policy

In the event that a player, coach, or spectator violates BYB’s Code of Conduct, both the umpire and the league VP are authorized to dismiss the individual from the field, and to stop the game and declare a forfeit if the individual does not comply. In addition, BYB reserves the right to impose further sanctions, including expulsion from the BYB program (without a refund of registration fees to players or their families).

Game Format

Major A League games are designed to allow players to apply the skills they’ve learned during practices. These games are competitive, and scores are recorded. All games are scheduled to last six innings.

Inclement Weather

In the event of inclement weather during the day of a game, head coaches are responsible for contacting each other to determine whether the game can be played. Head coaches are also responsible for calling the Town of Brookline’s Recreation Information Line (730-2083 or 730-2084) to find out if the fields are closed because of poor conditions; the recorded message on this line is typically updated by 11:00 a.m. on weekdays and 7:00 a.m. on weekends.

Before a game, the head coaches have the authority to decide whether the game can be played (if the fields are open); if the head coaches cannot reach an agreement, the head coach of the home team has final say. Once a game has begun, the umpire has the authority to stop the game due to inclement weather or poor field conditions, after consulting both head coaches. (Note: The most important consideration must be the safety of the players.)

Postponements

If the two head coaches are unable to reach each other directly, only the home team’s head coach may postpone a game on his/her own. In this situation, he/she must immediately leave a voice message notifying both the visiting team’s head coach and the league VP of the postponement, or risk losing the game by forfeit.

If a game is postponed before the teams have arrived at the field, the home team’s head coach must notify the league VP of the postponement as soon as possible so that the league VP has time to notify the coordinator of umpires. (Ideally, the league VP should be notified three hours before the scheduled start time, but this isn’t always possible because of sudden changes in the weather.) If the umpire arrives at the field because BYB provided late notice or no notice of a postponement, the home team coach must pay the umpire the full amount.

Rescheduling

A postponed game must be rescheduled at a later date, time, and location agreed upon by the two head coaches and the league VP. The league VP is responsible for providing an umpire at the rescheduled game.

Game Equipment

The home team is required to provide bases for each game. Both teams must provide their own bats and batting helmets, although each team must share batting helmets if the other team doesn’t have enough. Each team is required to provide two new game balls to the umpire before the start of the game.

Ground Rules

Before the game, head coaches must meet with the umpire at home plate to review ground rules and other rules that are unique to BYB’s Major A League.

Coaches and Spectators

Coaches are allowed to choose two assistant coaches and a scorekeeper to be in the bench area during games. Only head coaches and assistant coaches are allowed on the field during a break in play to instruct players. Only head coaches, assistant coaches, and players are allowed to coach from the first- and third-base coaching boxes (players must wear helmets). Only a head coach is allowed to discuss a play with an umpire.

Spectators who are not coaches must watch the game in the areas designated for spectators, and are not allowed on the field or in the bench area with the team. No spectator may stand behind the backstop during a game.

Fielding a Team

A team must be able to field at least eight players to play a game. If a team cannot field at least eight players when the game is scheduled to begin, the start of the game may be delayed for 10 minutes in order to allow late players to arrive. If, after 10 minutes, the team still cannot field at least eight players, that team must forfeit the game. If an injury or early departure leaves a team unable to field at least eight players at any time after a game has begun, that team must forfeit the game. (Note: A shorthanded team may not borrow players from the opposing team.)

If a coach knows ahead of time that he/she will not be able to field at least nine players for a game and would like to borrow a player from the Major B League, the coach must first contact the Major A League VP, who will request a player from the Major B League VP. Only a player who does not have a Major B game on the same day is allowed to play in a Major A game. (Note: Major B players may not pitch in a Major A game and must bat at the bottom of the batting order.)

Playing Time

During each game, each player must play in the field for at least four innings, except when:

  • The game is stopped prior to six innings of play because of inclement weather, poor field conditions, or darkness.
    The coach benches a player for disciplinary reasons such as missing games and/or practices without notifying the coach, insubordination, or disruptive behavior. The coach must notify the opposing coach of the disciplinary action before the start of the game. (Note: Poor play is not a valid reason for benching a player.)
    Each player must sit on the bench for at least one inning per game, except when:
  • Not enough players are available. Each time a coach doesn’t have enough players available to comply with the must-sit requirement, he/she must allow a different player to play a complete game. No player, except a catcher (see the next bullet), may play two complete games until each player on the team has played one complete game.
  • An injury to or absence of a player leaves no back-up catcher available. In this case, the coach may keep the same player at the catcher position for the entire game. The coach must inform the opposing coach of the injury or absence prior to the game or immediately when the injury occurs. (Note: Only an injury to or absence of all back-up catchers permits one player to catch an entire game, and each team must have at least two catchers to help prevent this situation.)

A pitcher may not pitch more than five innings in a game under any circumstances.

Substitutions and Mound Visits

As long as playing time requirements are met, players may be freely substituted throughout the game — except at pitcher. All fielding changes, except pitching changes and substitutions due to injury, must be made at the start of an inning. No fielding substitutions may be made in the middle of an inning unless it involves a pitcher switching places with another fielder.

A “mound visit” occurs any time an umpire calls time out to allow a coach to speak with the pitcher, or to speak with a position player who then speaks with the pitcher before the next pitch. Coaches are allowed one free mound visit per inning to speak with each pitcher. A second mound visit to the same pitcher in the same inning requires the coach to replace the pitcher. (Note: If a coach replaces a pitcher during a mound visit and speaks with the new pitcher before leaving the mound, the visit does not count as a mound visit to the new pitcher.) A pitcher who is removed from the mound may not re-enter the game as a pitcher, but may re-enter the game at another position. Other infielders (but not outfielders) may huddle with the coach on the mound during mound visits. However, the umpire may direct the players back to their positions and the coach back to the bench if, in the umpire’s opinion, the game is being delayed unnecessarily.

Bench Area

The on-deck batter may not hold a bat while waiting in the on-deck area. All players who are not at bat or on deck must remain on the bench at all times, unless warming up to pitch. Pitchers must warm up away from the bench area: down the foul line, in foul territory, adjacent to the outfield nearest their bench. Spectators who are not coaches must watch the game in the areas designated for spectators, and are not allowed on the field or in the bench area with the team. No player, coach, or spectator may stand behind the backstop during a game.

Pitchers

The following pitching rules are in force during the regular season, and in the playoffs unless adjusted by the league VP. If the league VP adjusts these rules for the playoffs, he/she will inform the league’s head coaches before the playoffs begin. These restrictions are designed to protect pitchers’ throwing arms from overuse. A team that violates a pitching rule is subject to disciplinary action, which may include forfeiture of the game in which the violation occurred and/or suspension of the coach.

Innings Limit

Maximum innings for each pitcher:

  • Per game: 5
  • Per pitching week (Sunday–Saturday): 6 

Important notes about innings limits:

  • Any inning in which a pitcher throws at least one pitch to a batter counts as a full inning for that pitcher.
  • If a game is stopped before it has become an official game, the innings pitched still count toward each pitcher’s total innings for the week.

Rest Requirements

The following rest requirements remain in force even when a new pitching week has begun (in other words, the start of a new pitching week does not eliminate the rest requirement). Note that players may not pitch on consecutive days.

Innings Pitched in a Game Full Calendar Days of Rest Required Example
1-3 1 A player who pitches 4 innings on Friday may not  pitch again until Tuesday.
4-5 3
  • A player who pitches three innings on Sunday may not pitch again until Tuesday.
  • A player who pitches four innings on Sunday may not pitch again until Thursday.

Pitch Limits

In addition to abiding by the mandatory innings limits and rest requirements, each head coach must record the number of pitches thrown by each pitcher on his/her team during each game, and must report each pitcher’s pitch count to the league VP after the game. Coaches are expected to limit the number of pitches each pitcher throws according to the pitch maximums in the following table, and to verify ongoing pitch counts with the opposing coach after each half-inning. BYB reserves the right to discipline any coach who allows a pitcher to exceed these limits.

  Pitches per Day Pitches per Week
Before May 18 60 80
On or After May 18 80 100

Prohibited Pitches

Any pitch that entails the snapping or turning of the wrist — such as a Curveball or Slider — is prohibited. When done incorrectly or too often, this type of delivery is likely to lead to forearm and elbow injuries. The intent of this rule is not to keep a player from throwing a pitch that changes direction, but to keep him/her from snapping or turning the wrist during the delivery of the pitch. Therefore, a pitch that changes direction but does not entail snapping or turning the wrist, such as a Two-Seam Fastball or a Circle Change-Up, is allowed. (Note: Head coaches are responsible for ensuring that the umpire is aware of this rule before the game begins.)

If a pitcher snaps or turns the wrist during delivery, the umpire must issue a warning to the pitcher. If the batter swings at and misses the pitch or hits into an out, the pitch is called a ball and the batter continues his/her at-bat; however, if the batter hits the ball and reaches base safely, he/she may remain on base. Upon a second violation of the rule by the same pitcher, the pitcher must be removed from the mound but may remain in the game at another position.

Miscellaneous

Balks are not called. Intentional walks are allowed only if first base is open and there are less than two outs. A pitcher who hits two batters in an inning or three in a game must be removed from the mound. A pitcher who is removed from the mound may not re-enter the game as a pitcher, but may remain in or re-enter the game at another position.

Catchers

Each player at this position must wear a complete set of catcher’s equipment: helmet, face mask, throat guard, chest protector, catcher’s mitt, shin guards, and protective cup.

If a catcher, when his/her team is batting, reaches base or is on base with two outs in an inning, the coach has the option to temporarily replace the catcher with a pinch runner so that the catcher can begin putting on the catcher’s equipment. This rule is designed to allow the next half inning to begin without delay, and applies only if the catcher will return to the catcher position. The pinch runner must be the player who made the most recent out.

Batters

Each batter must wear a helmet in the on-deck area and throughout the at-bat.

Batting Order

Each team must provide the opposing team’s scorekeeper with a batting order before the game. With the exception of players who become injured or leave the field early, all players must remain in the same spot in the order throughout the game — even when not playing in the field. If a player must be removed from the order because of injury or early departure, the removal must be reported to the opposing scorekeeper and the player’s spot in the order may be skipped for the rest of the game without an out being recorded. Players who arrive after the game has begun must be added to the end of the order and reported to the opposing scorekeeper immediately.

When a player fails to bat in his/her proper spot in the order:

  • If the mistake is detected and pointed out by either head coach before the at-bat is completed, the improper batter is replaced by the proper batter, who inherits any balls and strikes that had already been called.
  • If the head coach of the fielding team appeals to the umpire after the improper batter has concluded the at-bat but before the first pitch to the next batter, the proper batter (the one who failed to bat in turn) is called out. In this case, the improper batter may not remain on base, any advances by base runners that resulted from a ball hit into play by the improper batter are nullified, and the batting order resumes with the batter who would normally bat after the proper batter, even if it’s the same batter who just batted improperly.
  • If the head coach of the fielding team appeals after the first pitch to the next batter, the improper batter remains on base, no batter is called out, base runner advances are not nullified, and the batting order resumes with the batter who would normally bat after the improper batter.
  • BUNTS/SACRIFICE FLIES/DROPPED THIRD STRIKES Bunting is allowed; a bunt into foul territory after the batter already has two strikes is a strike out. Sacrifice fly balls, in which a base runner tags up and advances to the next base after the ball is caught, are allowed. A batter may not advance to first base on a wild pitch or passed ball on a third strike.

Infield Fly/Hidden Ball

The Infield Fly Rule is enforced in this league, and applies only when all of the following conditions are met:

  • An infield pop-up is in fair territory and, in the umpire’s opinion, can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort.
  • There are base runners on first and second bases or the bases are loaded.
  • There are less than two outs.

When calling the Infield Fly Rule, the umpire calls the batter out whether or not the ball is caught, and the base runners may tag up/advance at their own risk.

BYB does not allow hidden ball plays designed to deceive base runners at any level of play.

Base Runners

Each base runner must wear a helmet until he/she returns to the bench.

Leading and Stealing

Leading is not allowed in this league. A player who takes a lead must receive a warning on the first offense and be called out on the second offense.

Stealing is allowed, but the base runner may not leave the base until the ball crosses home plate. If a base runner leaves a base early and steals successfully, the base runner must return to the base where he/she started; however, if a base runner leaves a base early and is thrown out trying to steal, the base runner is out. Base runners may not advance if the pitcher is standing on any part of the mound with the ball.

Sliding/Avoiding Contact

A base runner may not intentionally make contact with a fielder. A base runner who, in the umpire’s opinion, initiates contact with a fielder anywhere on the base paths may be called out.

To prevent collisions, a base runner approaching second base, third base, or home plate must slide feet-first if a throw is made in an attempt to get the base runner out — even if the throw is late or off target. A base runner who does not slide may be called out by the umpire if the base runner makes contact with a fielder. A base runner who slides head-first when advancing to a base may be called out by the umpire. Head-first slides are permitted only when a base runner is diving back to a base to avoid being doubled off on a line drive or to avoid being picked off. (Note: A base runner may not slide when advancing to first base.)

Plays at Home Plate

If a base runner is trying to score from third base on a passed ball or wild pitch, the batter must clear out of the batter’s box to avoid interfering with the play. If, in the umpire’s opinion, the batter does not make a legitimate attempt to get out of the way, the umpire may call the base runner out.

Advancing on Overthrows

If a fielder causes a ball to leave the playing field — beyond the backstop or the side boundaries (usually the team benches) agreed upon before the game — each base runner is awarded the base he/she is going to plus one additional base. When the ball is within the playing field, base runners advance at their own risk.

Pinch Runners

If a catcher, when his/her team is batting, reaches base or is on base with two outs in an inning, the coach has the option to temporarily replace the catcher with a pinch runner so that the catcher can begin putting on the catcher’s equipment. This rule is designed to allow the next half inning to begin without delay, and applies only if the catcher will return to the catcher position. The pinch runner must be the player who made the most recent out.

Mercy Rule

An inning must end when the batting team scores 10 runs or the fielding team makes three outs, whichever occurs first. The 10-run rule, however, does not apply during the final inning of play. The inning is not over after a team bats around the order — only after 10 runs have been scored.

Extra Innings

If the score is tied after six innings, play continues until one team has more total runs than the other after the bottom half of an extra inning.
If the score is still tied when darkness, weather, or the scheduled start of another game causes the game to be stopped:

  • If it’s a regular season game, the game is complete and considered a tie.
  • If it’s a playoff game, the game must be concluded at a later date, time, and location agreed upon by the two head coaches and the league VP.

Darkness

Prior to May 15, an inning may not be started after 7:30 p.m. After that date, an inning may not be started after 7:50 p.m. If, in the umpire’s opinion, after consulting both head coaches, an inning is unlikely to be completed in daylight, the game must be stopped before the start of that inning.

Under no circumstances may a game be continued when it’s difficult for any player to see the ball. The umpire is authorized to stop a game because of darkness at any time. If a game is official and is stopped in the middle of an inning, the score reverts to what it was at the end of the last completed inning.

Official Game

A game is considered official after two-and-a-half innings have been played when the home team is leading, or after three full innings otherwise.

Partial Game

If a game must be discontinued because of inclement weather, poor field conditions, or darkness before it becomes an official game, it must be resumed at a later date, time, and location agreed upon by the two head coaches and the league VP.

Resumed Game

A partial game that’s resumed must continue from the exact point where it left off: the same half of the same inning, with the same batter, batting orders, base runners, pitchers, and fielders. Partial game players who are unavailable for the resumed game may be replaced by other available players who were not in the field or in the lineup when the partial game was stopped. However, a pitcher who had been removed from the partial game before it was stopped may not pitch in the resumed game. The league VP is responsible for providing an umpire at the resumed game.

Game Recording and Reporting

Each team is required to keep score. Coaches/scorekeepers should meet after each half inning to ensure that they agree on the score, and to notify each other of lineup changes and substitutions.

The head coach of the winning team (or the home team if the game ends in a tie) is responsible for reporting the following to the league VP within 24 hours after the game:

  • The winner and score of the game (the score of a forfeit is recorded as 6-0)
  • The number of innings played
  • The numbers of innings pitched by each pitcher for both teams

Each head coach must record the number of pitches thrown by each of his/her team’s pitchers during each game, and must report each pitcher’s pitch count to the league VP after the game.

Each head coach should also report any inappropriate behavior by coaches, players, or spectators.

Rule Violations, Disputes, and Protests

A coach who notices that the opposing team is about to violate a rule (such as a playing-time rule) must notify the opposing coach immediately. It is not acceptable to wait until the rule has been violated in an attempt to win by forfeit; this is not consistent with the spirit of youth baseball or the objectives of BYB

If a rule violation has occurred:

  1. The head coach who observes the violation should first bring it to the attention of the opposing head coach and, if possible, resolve the issue without involving the umpire.
  2. If the issue cannot be resolved between the two head coaches, they must then consult the umpire. For certain violations, such as batting out of order or use of an illegal bat, the umpire must be notified immediately after the conclusion of the at-bat in which the violation occurred, before the first pitch to the next batter (see BATTING ORDER for more details).
  3. After the umpire makes a decision to resolve the dispute, the coaches must abide by that decision and must resume play and complete the game. The umpire has final authority while the game is in progress, and his or her decision cannot be reversed during the course of the game without his or her consent.

If a head coach disagrees with the umpire’s decision and wants to elevate the issue to the league VP, he or she must:

  1. Formally protest the game before resuming play. To do this, the coach must write the word "protest" in his or her scorebook, record the game details at the time of the protest (inning, score, outs, base runners), and have the umpire sign the score book. Any other form of protest, such as refusing to resume play (except when the safety of the players is compromised), is not allowed and may result in a forfeit against the protesting team and further discipline against that team’s head coach.
  2. Contact the league VP within two hours after the conclusion of the game to complete the protest. The league VP will then take whatever steps are necessary to resolve the dispute fairly, and will make a decision that may include allowing the final score to stand, replaying some or all of the game, or awarding a forfeit to overturn the outcome of the game.

Note: A coach may not protest a game after the conclusion of the game without following the protest process described above. Therefore, any rule violation or dispute that is not brought to the attention of the opposing head coach and the umpire while the game is in progress cannot be used as grounds for a protest after the game has ended. 

Standings and Playoff Seedings

Standings are determined using each team’s Total Points (win = two points; tie = one point). The top two seeds at the end of the regular season receive a bye in the first round of the playoffs. If two teams are tied, the following tie-breakers are applied in the order shown:

  1. Winning Percentage (ties are ignored in calculating winning percentage)
  2. Win/Loss Record: head-to-head
  3. Runs Scored minus Runs Allowed: head-to-head
  4. Win/Loss Record: versus the next-best seed
  5. Runs Scored minus Runs Allowed: versus the next-best seed