Changing Delivery....Balk?

At a recent youth, 11U game, our pitcher was called for a balk because he changed his delivery/mechanics with a lead runner on 2B.

All from stretch position…

With no runner on 2B, or lead runner on 3B, his stride leg would come straight up, then straight towards the plate when delivering a pitch.
With a lead runner on 2B, he would bring his stride leg up and back towards 2B, closing his hips a lot more, give a stern look at the runner, then deliver the pitch. Obviously, this was to make the runner believe he was going to pick him off, making him hesitate to steal 3B. The umpires call this a balk. They said he was deceiving the runner.
I understand a lot of people believe the pitcher cannot deceive a base runner without committing a balk. However, it’s my understanding a pitcher can try to deceive a runner, as long as he doesn’t break any of the balk rules. I tried to find a balk rule that covers this scenario, but couldn’t. So, is it a balk? If so, what rule covers this? If not, how does one deal with umpires who call this a balk?


I have never heard of such a thing in major league baseball, or in the minors for that matter. In my opinion, that umpire was just showing off, coming on like he knew everything there is to know about the balk rule when in actuality he doesnt know his elbow from third base. What difference does it make what the pitcher does with this leg or that as long as he comes to a full stop of one second before delivering the pitch? Balk, my Aunt Fanny!
And more often than not it’s one of the base umpires who will call the balk if the circumstances warrant. As for “deceiving the runner”—come on! If the runner wants to try and steal a base, he’ll do it, and if he decides that discretion—that is, holding the bag—is the better part of valor he’ll do that. My advice: ignore the umpire. He has a lot to learn about what constitutes a balk, or not.
My wise and wonderful pitching coach told me once, “If the runner on first is a speed demon he’ll probably steal second base anyway. Okay. Let him have the base if he wants it so such—but make sure he stays there.” The kind of move you describe is not deception; it’s just keeping the runner close to the bag. And by the way—with the bases loaded, there’s nothing in the rule book that says a pitcher can’t go to the full windup. When I would come into the game in relief and the bases were loaded, I would just go after the hitter, challenge him—and strike him out. All from the full windup. 8) :slight_smile:

Well there is a thing of intentional deception, which is a balk, if the action toward second is too aggressive and the body moves toward 2nd then home, there can definately be a balk called, at least through college ball. You can even come to a post and hang there, make a small move toward 2nd, this can be considered a balk.

buwhite, yes, his action toward 2B is aggressive. His body and stride leg do move more towards 2B with a lead runner on 2B. When his stride knee is at it’s highest point, it’s pointing towards the direction of SS, with his upper body closed a lot more than with a lead runner at any other base. He even seems to pull the ball out of his glove sooner in this sitch. He does all this to make the runner think he might throw a pick off, but delivers a pitch instead. However, his motion is continuous (i.e. no pause), but looks significantly different than if the lead runner was on 1B or 3B. With the lead runner on 1B he does more of what I would call a slide step, with little leg lift. With a runner on 3B he has more of a “normal” delivery from the stretch, raising his knee almost straight up, slightly above his waist.
Is he intentionally trying to deceive a lead runner on 2B, therefore holding him close…absolutely. Is it illegal? If yes, why? What rule did he break?

I’m thinking it’s not a balk and agree with Zito’s statement: “What difference does it make what the pitcher does with this leg or that as long as he comes to a full stop of one second before delivering the pitch? Balk, my Aunt Fanny!”

i was called for this last year, i was playing 15u at the time. i used to do this all the time and finally got called for it a couple times at the end of last season. The umpires reasonings were im intentionally decieving the runner, you can still stop and look at him when your legs up but you cannot turn your body towards second and throw home. These are OBA rules, Ontario Baseball Assosiation

Link to official balk rules:

Rule 8.05 Comment: Umpires should bear in mind that the purpose of the balk rule is to prevent the pitcher from deliberately deceiving the base runner. If there is doubt in the umpire’s mind, the “intent” of the pitcher should govern.

I believe the language in the 8.05 Comment could be worded better. This comment isn’t a rule in and of itself. It simply provides guidance in how to apply the actual balk rules found in 8.05.

Pitcher from the set position, takes a deep breath and shrugs his shoulders. Technically he’s started his motion, but there was no intent to deceive the runners and the runners were not deceived. Therefore, though he broke rule 8.05(a), the 8.05 Comment tells the umpire he shouldn’t call it a balk.

With that in mind, I can’t find a reason/rule to call our pitcher for a balk, simply for changing his delivery to hold a runner close to his base.

If I read your post right the issue is in the “back towards 2B” action then coming home, this would be an intentional action to deceive the runner I think.

100% not a balk. All you are doing is twisting more while looking at second base. You can’t call a balk because someone twisted too much. If it ever happens again then kindly ask him why it is a balk. Your allowed to change your delivery… Once you make a pitch you don’t have to repeat that motion every pitch… You should but you don’t have to. It simply isn’t a balk.

If he all the sudden does a Louis Tiant…sp?..then balk.

I was warned by an umpire at 15 for changing my mechanics in the stretch for this. Runner on 1st i used a mussina style stretch my whole life. That year. Runner on 2nd i used a more nomo turn towards them. Runner on third i would leg kick directly towards third and then go home. İt was deceptive but it was also extremely consistent and i personally didn’t feel it broke any rules

Because. A short step to me is also the same deal. Mixing up that regular motion to keep runner tighter. You can’t have the short step and long step if the rule is any deception