Balk rule and teaching 13-14

I need a refesh on the balk rules.

Can a pitcher ever have his foot on the rubber to make a jump throw to first base? Then again can he ever have a foot on the rubber trying a pick off move?

My understanding of the balk rules, with regards to your question are:

Can a pitcher ever have his foot on the rubber to make a jump throw to first base?..
There needs to be movement towards a base on a jump move. As an umpire, if the pitcher jumps and the pivot foot lands exactly in the same spot, I would be highly inclined to call a balk.

Then again can he ever have a foot on the rubber trying a pick off move?..
In the 2008 NFHS Baseball Rules 6-2-4b discusses the non-pivot foot only needing to be stepped towards a base. Nothing about the pivot foot. I could very well be wrong, but I could see how you could make a step directly towards a base with your non-pivot foot for a throw and still keep your pivot foot on the rubber.

Again, I could be incorrect, but that is my understanding and the interpretation of balk that I use when I am behind the plate.

basically a jump move. you have to take the foot of the rubber BEFORE you moce your shoulders or else its a balk

If you read Rule 8.05 in the official rules of baseball—and this applies to all levels of the game—it’s very clear about the many ways a balk can be committed. And one of the ways is if a pitcher fails to step off the rubber before throwing to first—or any other base.
There’s a very funny story about what happened with Yankee pitcher Vic Raschi in 1950, the year where the umpires decided they were going to enforce that rule. Until then the pitchers had been getting away with murder, just coming to a slight hesitation before delivering the pitch. But the umpires decided to enforce that rule. One day Raschi was pitching for the Yankees, and there was a runner on base, and he came to that slight hesitation—and the ump called him for a balk. He did the same thing a little later, and again the ump called him for a balk. This happened two more times, and now Raschi was extremely exasperated and was ready to hit the ceiling—imagine! Four balks being called on him in a game, and as far as I know that record still stands. But Allie Reynolds managed to calm him down and said to him, "I’ll put a stop to this."
The next day Reynolds was pitching. There was a runner on base, and when Reynolds got the ball he just stood there and held it for what seemed to be an interminable length of time. Then he called time, stepped off the mound and went to the rosin bag and futzed with it for a minute or two. Then he got back on the mound—and held on to the ball and held on to the ball and held on to the ball. By now the plate umpire was very nervous, and he went out to the mound and asked “Why don’t you throw the ball?” The reply: “I’m afraid to.” Allie Pierce Reynolds, who was not afraid of anything. The umpire asked, “What do you mean, you’re afraid to throw the ball?” And Reynolds replied, "Because if I let go of the ball you’re going to call me for a balk."
The umpire spluttered and then burst out laughing—and finally he made his decision: the Yankee pitchers, and only the Yankee pitchers, could go back to what they had been doing, just coming to a slight hesitation when throwing from the stretch. But after that year, the pitchers observed the rule about coming to a complete stop of one second before delivering the pitch. :slight_smile: 8)

Jump move by a right hander is allowed but then the pitcher is required to throw to first. There are some people wondering if a righty can step directly to first without disengaging the rubber and my thoughts are that even if its not a balk, the ump is going to call it one. If a righty steps back he can fake to first without a throw. Lefty obviously wouldn’t need to jump turn since he doesn’t need to turn, he can step directly to first to pick off but must throw to first then and can step back if he wants to without throwing. Lefties also seem to get about 45 degrees (almost at the dugout) and still consider that first base (damn lefties). All pitchers must go home if they cross the plane of the rubber with the leg they lift, that commits them to home.

I am sure that if I am inaccrate on something then someone will make it clear

I was reading this post, because I’m having conversations around little league on whether the pitcher can step to first with his foot on the rubber and make a throw without it being a balk and the answer is yes.

Reading rule 8.05 (a) is taken to mean that if the pitchers motion with his foot on the rubber is associated with any part of his pitch delivery, then this would be balk – this would include lifting his knee of his free foot as if going into his delivery, at this point he couldn’t step to first with his foot on the rubber without it being a balk. However, if he steps to first directly, without any association to his pitching delivery, he can make the throw to first, or any base, if he is so able physically. However, if he does this he must make the throw (hence 8.05 b), for if he fakes the throw with his foot on the rubber a balk must be called. But even further, if he fakes a throw to second or third in similar fashion, with his “step throw” to that base(s) then this allowed and is not a balk.

One other thing, he must step directly to the base, even though I’ve seen the 45 degree angle rule applied to the interpretation of what it means to step directly toward the base. If on the “base” side of the line that makes the 45 degree angle, then no balk; if on the plate side of that line then balk. The 45 degree angle line is the 90 angle made between first and home plate that is bisected.

With his foot off the rubber he can do whatever the heck he wants.

What do you guys think?


Wow…there was some very heated discussion on this about a year ago and really it comes down I think to what a particular umpire would call as a “Disceptive Move”, they could call a direct move by a righty to 1st disceptive and maybe they will go with the rule the way its written, all in the interpretation. How long can you stay in your post with a runner on 2nd without it being a balk? How much is too much for a lefty to 1st, 45 degrees, 40 degrees, many of us saw the White Sox pitcher last year have back to back balks on seemingly less than 45 degree picks, he got thrown out for his tyrade. It is all on how that set of umpires view a particular action. We can theorise all we want but at game time its still opinions that count.

Bal rule…baseball players…coaches and umpires is a topic of discussion that could go on for days and one I have had many times over.

First of all we must try to understand that many umpires are afraid to call it. Second of all we must understand the rule itself in that there are legal things to do that skirt the obvious of the rule…yet they are legal.

For instance stepping to 3B and then wheeling to first…legal move but one I absolutely hate and here is my main point when discussing any thing to do with the balk rule.

Regardless of what rule book one is looking at the purpose of the balk rule is to keep the pitcher from deceiving the runners. Yet there legal things to do that are clearly deceptive.

Or how about this one…“a pitcher may not fake a throw to first base because he steps.” Yet how many times at youth levels of the game do we see young pitchers do this? CONSTANTLY! One guy who is informed we yell out balk and the whole park will erupt in unison being concured with by the umpire that it is not a balk…it is a balk yet kids do it all the time…coaches teach kids to do it (wrongly…because you can’t step towards first base, not throw and have it be legal.

In regards to not disengaging the pivot foot from the rubber in just about every rule I am aware of as it relates to the balk this would be illegal but good luck getting anyone to call it…especially the lower the level you go.

In closing I have spoken at umpire clinics on several occasions and the title of that portion of the clinic is “Doctor Balk.” I know laugh all you want :)…yet most of these clinics have been directed at collegiate level umpires. One would be suprised as to how little umpires actually know even at that level as it relates to the balk and what pitchers can do all the while not being called on.


The only exclusions to the rule would then be if the pitcher is not good enough at being deceptive to not be seen…

“end game.”

NFHS Rule 6-2-4 spells out balks pretty well. Here’s a link to the 2010 NFHS Rules.

Regarding breaking the plane of the rubber with the stride foot, leg etc.- NFHS 6-2-4f balk when: failing to pitch to the batter when the ENTIRE non-pivot FOOT passes behind the perpendicular plane of the BACK edge of the pitcher’s plate, except when feinting or throwing to second base in an attempt to put out a runner.

In a typical two man umpiring system this is about impossible to regulate or see.

Some other points- NFHS

There is no 45 degree rule in the rule book. In the umpire’s judgment the pitcher either steps toward first or he doesn’t.

Once engaged the legal way to disengage from the rubber is to step back and off- meaning toward 2nd base- with the pivot foot. Stepping sideways or forward with the pivot foot is a balk.

Once properly disengaged the pitcher becomes a fielder and different overthrow/out of play rules apply- two bases on a ball out of play by fielder but only one on ball out of play by pitcher. The pitcher can legally step and fake a throw once properly disengaged.

Coaches would be well served to understand prior to the game what set of rules govern that particular game- Official Baseball Rules or NFHS Rules. It may be a good idea to politely ask the umpire to refresh you on the differences- or just verify a few with him. If you’ve coached your players properly this should be to your advantage. There are a lot of differences. Here’s a link to some of the differences.

I’m not sure how up-to-date this comparison is so I suggest checking to see if any revisions have taken place since this was created. I think the glove color has been amended.