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I am the scorekeeper for our youth / junior legion baseball team, twice this week we have had situations where batters were called out for illegal substitution. It is customary in our league to submit your lineup card with all eligible players listed, batting order and then substitutes available for the game.

First game is against a team that my son and I are very good friends with. The game score is 4 - 2 in favor of the other team. A pinch hitter comes to the plate and I notice that this is not the batter that should be batting now. I bring this to the attention of our coaches and after the first pitch is thrown to the batter they then bring it to the attention of the umpire, that the batter did not announce himself. The home plate umpire confers with the base umpire and the ruling is that the batter is out because of illegal substitution / not reporting into the game. Neither the plate umpire or myself were notified that he was going to bat.

This has not gone over well with our friends on the other team and I am afraid we may have lost out relationship with them, as we rallied in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead 5-4 and ended up winning the game which was shortened by the weather and called by the umpires as an official game.

Second game we are leading 4-1 when the other team announces a pinch hitter from their dugout to us. They called out his number, but not his name. I view the lineup card that was given to us pregame by their coach and there is no number on the card and no name without a number. A pitch has been thrown and I yelled over to their bench what is the batters name I do not have it on the lineup card. The umpires confer again and call the batter out for illegal substitution. The player arrived late to the game after the lineup cards had been distributed and their coach did not include his information on the lineup card, as a courtesy that we all use in our league, prior to the start of the game.

See official baseball rules - Rule 4.03(c) to 4.03(e) specifically the Rule 4.03 Comment (Rule 4.01 Comment) section. Where it is stated, among other items, As a courtesy, potential substitute players should also be listed, but the failure to list a potential substitute player shall not make such a potential substitute player ineligible to enter the game.

Further reading where it states - Teams should not be "trapped" later by some mistake that obviously was inadvertent and which can be corrected before the game starts.

I received a text the following day from my friend who coaches the first team that read: "Batter should not have been called out! He must finish his at bat in order for him to be illegal. I could have put the starting player back in and all would have been fine."

Curious as to the actual ruling I have been researching the "Official Baseball Rules" and the American Legion Baseball rules for the answer and to be honest I have not found the clear cut resolution to these situations.

What I have found is this: The illegal substitution is removed from the game, the player who was substituted for is removed from the game and play continues.

*From the Official Baseball Rules 2017 - pages 79, 80, 81, 81

Rule 6.03(b) (6.07) Batting Out of Turn

(1) A batter shall be called out, on appeal, when he fails to bat in his proper turn, and another batter completes a time at bat in his place.

Rule 6.03(b)(7) Comment (Rule 6.07 Comment): The umpire shall not direct the attention of any person to the presence in the batter's box of an improper batter. This rule is designed to require constant vigilance by the players and managers of both teams

There are two fundamentals to keep in mind: When a player bats out of turn, the proper batter is the player called out. If an improper batter bats and reaches base or is an out and no appeal is made before a pitch to the next batter, or before any play, that improper batter is considered to have batted in proper turn and establishes the order is to follow.

Approved Ruling: To illustrate various situations arising from batting out of turn, assume a first-inning batting order as follows;

Abel - Baker - Charles - Daniel - Edward - Frank - George - Hooker - Irwin

(Play 1) - Baker bats, With the count 2 balls and 1 strike,

(a) the offensive team discovers the error or (b) the defensive team appeals. Ruling - in either case, Abel replaces Baker, with the count on him 2 balls and 1 strike.

(Play 2) - Baker bats and doubles. The defensive team appeals (a) immediate or (b) after a pitch to Charles. Ruling - (a) Abel is called out and Baker is the proper batter; (b) Baker stays on second and Charles is the proper batter.

(Play 3) Abel walks. Baker walks. Charles forces Baker. Edward bats in Daniel's turn. While Edward is at bat, Abel scores and Charles goes to second on a wild pitch. Edward grounds out, sending Charles to third. The defensive team appeals (a) immediately or (b) after a pitch to Daniel.

Ruling - (a) Abel's run counts and Charles is entitled to second base since these advances were not made because of the improper batter batting a ball or advancing to first base. Charles must return to second base because his advance to third resulted from the improper batter batting a ball. Daniel is called out, and Edward is the proper batter; (b) Abel's run counts and Charles stays on third. The proper batter is Frank.

(Play 4) With the bases full and two out. Hooker bats in Frank's turn, and triples, scoring three runs. The defensive team appeals (a) immediately, or (b) after a pitch to George.

Ruling - (a) Frank is called out and no runs score. George is the proper batter to lead off the second inning; (b) Hooker stays on third and three runs score. Irwin is the proper batter.

(Play 5) After Play (4)(b) above, George continues at bat. (a) Hooker is picked off third base for the third out, or (b) George flies out, and no appeal is made. Who is the proper leadoff batter in the second inning?

Ruling - (a) Irwin. He became the proper batter as soon as the first pitch to George Illegalized Hooker's triple; (b) Hooker. When no appeal was made, the first pitch to the leadoff batter of the opposing team legalized George's time at bat.

(Play 6) Daniel walks and Abel comes to bat. Daniel was an improper batter, and if an appeal is made before the first pitch to Abel, Abel is out, Daniel is removed from base, and Baker is the proper hitter. There is no appeal, and a itch is made to Abel. Daniel's walk is now legalized, and Edward thereby becomes the proper batter. Edward can replace Abel at any time before Abel is put out or becomes a runner. He does not do so. Abel flies out, and Baker comes to bat. Abel was an improper batter, and if an appeal is made before the first pitch to Baker, Edward is out, and the proper batter is Frank. There is no appeal, and a pitch is made to Baker. Abel's out is now legalized, and the proper batter is Baker. Baker walks. Charles is the proper batter, but he is on second base. Who is the proper batter?

Ruling - The proper batter is Edward. When the proper batter is on base, he is passed over, and the following batter becomes the proper batter.

Now with all this information provided to the best of my ability from memory and the sources listed. What would your two calls be?

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Replies to This Discussion

I did not read the entire post. Until the hitter puts the ball in play he is not illegal. In fact, it's best that you don't say anything unless the hitter actually does something worthwhile to hurt your club and then you tell the umpire because then he is out. A few years back I was managing an Indy game and they had a guy hit out of turn the entire game but he kept making outs so I said nothing until he came up in the top of the ninth with 2 outs and they were down by a run. He hits a double in the gap so now I went to the umpire and informed him of the situation. It didn't take long and the umpire called him out and the game was over. From experience, i have always put EVERY player on the roster regardless if they are at the game or not even in the country because your original roster and lineup card is what would be used if something happens during the game and it is delayed or finished at a later date.

That kind of thinking comes with experience


Hard to make a ruling for you unless we know the type of games played. Little League, Travel ball, High School etc.

You stated American Legion rules. But it sounds as though you are in a lower division.

In little league anyone can notify the Umpire, Scorekeeper, O.D. etc that there is an issue so that it can be remedied without penalty.

In some upper divisions the batter can enter a game without penalty and be added to the bottom of the line up.

The name should be correct in case there are multiple no#s.

But if a batter is not the batter of record and gets to a base. He/she can be called out if brought to the attention of the Umpire BEFORE the next play or attempted play.

If the batter is in the box then the correct batter would be brought in without penalty but they would assume the count of the incorrect batter.

I hope that I made it easy to understand.

UPDATE - This is interesting and funny. 

I am not listed on the coaching roster for our junior american legion team, therefore both of the coaches that experienced the examples listed above have contacted the league president and submitted complaints that I had sat in the dugout during the games.

I was approached by the league president this evening and was told that I am not allowed to sit in the dugout because i am not on the coaching roster and that he had received 2 complaints of me sitting in our teams dugout. 

That ruling is correct, I am not allowed in the dugout as a score keeper only.

Both teams coaches must have either researched or read the the 2017 American Legion Baseball Rule Book, they may also be interested in reading the American Legion Coaches Ethics book as well.

This is one of the many reasons why I no longer want to help, be involved in or coach organized sports!

The kids are great, it's the adults who make it difficult.


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