Was this a BALK?

Our starter pitched a great game today going 6 full innings on 89 pitches…but he took the loss 1-0. The play of the game was a 4th inning 2 out balk called on this pitch:

The runner advanced to 2nd and was driven in on a base hit after that. The next batter struck out. That was the only run of the game.

So… on this pitch…was it really a balk??

high school rules




It would only be a balk if he didn’t come set prior to starting his motion.

Do you know what the reason was for the balk?

Everything look fine. I think the full video would be helpful to see if he came to a complete stop or not.

The actual motion had nothing illegal with it. Usually with lefties, you see issues with their high leg kick.

As a current umpire with several years of experience, I see nothing wrong with what I watched. I can’t imagine any other state’s rules are that different.

from what i have been told so far, the umpire said that his entire foot was not in contact with the rubber.

what I think it might really be is that his heel extends beyond the edge of the rubber. I don’t have the current hs rules handy, but one rule of the set position that I seem to remember was that in the set position the entire pivot foot had to be in front of the rubber. Usually in front of means touching and anywhere forward of the rubber…including beyond the side edges as long as still in contact with the rubber.

But in hs rules, I think I saw that they defined in front of the rubber as not extending beyond the side edges.

Anyone have the current rule?


ps-- the reason I didn’t include the complete stop phase of this was that we learned that it did not have anything to do with that issue. I’ll recut the original later, though, and post so that we can look at the entire movement.

From the MLB rule book not the NFHS rulebook but it is the same.

Rule 2.00

An ILLEGAL PITCH is (1) a pitch delivered to the batter when the pitcher does not have his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate; (2) a quick return pitch. An illegal pitch when runners are on base is a balk.

So maybe the umpire saw that his left foot was not in contact with the rubber as he came set, it looks as though he is quite far off. Tough way to take a loss.

By definition that is a balk, but many MLB guys do the same. I watched Clay Rapada do just that last year.

As far as the jump from the rubber with the back leg, that is also very common (also technically a balk) and doesn’t get called.

kylejamers, you say “By definition that is a balk”, I don’t know what you mean, do you mean the position on the rubber or what.

I’m certified in Fla. as a HS ump, this is not a balk by the limited clip anyway. It could be a whole bunch of things and nothing…a ton of balks are called because “you don’t look right”…he may never ever get called for it again or he could run into a series of umps who get a bug…a thousand guys may have seen it different. The stress of the game and umpteen other factors made that call…even just a finch…you are right though…the wrong thing to turn a great game on…another lifes lesson on the unfairness of it all 8) I love our art because it’ll turn this kids way…just a matter of time :wink:

Last I looked, NFHS rules do require the pitcher’s feet to be entirely in front of (i.e. within the length of) the rubber. Don’t recall, however, if the penalty is a balk, an illegal pitch or just a warning.

Not contacting the rubber when set. We are in agreement.

I want to add - It is impossible to say for certain if the pitcher is touching the rubber from this angle, but not touching it at all is (obviously) a balk.

Thanks kylejamers, we are on the same page. It’s interesting what Roger says, “pitcher’s feet to be entirely in front of” that would make sense as to there being a balk called. Thanks Roger!

got this from my certified pitching coach colleagues at the National Pitching Association. I think this is what happened, although I’ll never know for sure…

Originally posted by palmbeachtim

what we were told today was that the umpire said that the pitcher was not in contact with the pitchers plate as required by the rules…

what i think he is saying is that part of clay’s foot extended past the 3rd base side edge of the rubber. the set position rule says that the entire pivot foot must be directly in front of the pitcher’s plate.

Here’s the NFHS rule (6-1-3… I’m only including the relevant part):

For the set position, the pitcher shall have the ball in either his gloved hand or his pitching hand. His pitching hand shall be down at his side or behind his back. Before starting his delivery, he shall stand with his entire non-pivot foot in front of a line extending through the front edge of the pitcher’s plate and with his entire pivot foot in contact with or directly in front of the pitcher’s plate.

Babe Ruth rules say essentially the same thing in 8.01(b):

Set Position shall be indicated by the pitcher when he stands facing the batter with his entire pivot foot in contact with, and his other foot in front of, the pitcher’s plate, holding the ball in both hands in front of his body and coming to a complete stop.

However, note that MLB rules were changed to omit the word “entire” (I forget which year this happened):

Set Position shall be indicated by the pitcher when he stands facing the batter with his pivot foot in contact with, and his other foot in front of, the pitcher’s plate, holding the ball in both hands in front of his body and coming to a complete stop.

The NFHS Case Book gives an example of this and the enforcement in 6.1.1, Situation A:

F1 pitches with the toe of his pivot foot (right foot for right- handed pitcher) in contact with the pitcher’s plate but his heel is outside a line through the end edge of the plate. He pitches from (a) windup position, or (b) set position. RULING: Legal in (a). Illegal pitch or balk in (b).

So, yes, technically if Clay’s pivot foot was extending off one end of the rubber, it was an illegal pitch and, hence, a balk since there was a runner on base.

That being said, those who enforce this rule on their own are what’s known as OOO’s – Overly Officious Officials. In other words, extreme and unnecessary nit-pickers. Usually, it’s only enforced if the umpire is backed into a corner in that the opposing coach brings it up. An umpire can choose to ignore little pedantic details that don’t affect the spirit of the rules when left to his own devices, but he can’t once they’re brought to his attention or he risks the whole game being protested.

That also being said, it doesn’t look like Clay’s foot was off the end of the rubber to me. The video doesn’t provide a 100 percent conclusive angle, but from what I can see, if it was off the end at all it was by a very small amount, like an inch or less. If I were umpiring that game, I would never have called that a balk even if pressed by the opposing coach. The few times I’ve ever seen this called, it’s when the pitcher stands with more than a third of his foot past the end of the rubber, and usually only when it’s the majority of the foot.

So, that’s a long way of saying, if that was the rationale, Clay and his team got hosed!

Kinda sad to learn that every pitch I’ve thrown over the last 2 years is a balk. As a righty I stand on the left side with just the front half of my foot infront of the rubber, never been called though, interesting little factoid in this thread. :shock:

This rule is rarely called - probably only called when the opposing team complains. However, here’s a small trick. If you feel it appropriate to have your posting foot heel off the end of the rubber (i.e. off the glove side of the rubber), place your front foot in a position such that the posting foot toe aligns with the front foot arch. This is a good position to use regardless. However, in this case, doing so places the front foot within the length of the rubber and from the HPU’s perspective looks “mo’ betta” making him less likely to call it.

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