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Rule 10 - Umpiring

Section 1 - GENERAL

10-1-1   Game officials include the umpire-in-chief and one, two, three or more field umpires. Whenever possible, at least two umpires are recommended. Any umpire has the authority to order a player, coach or team attendant to do or refrain from doing anything that affects the administration of these rules and to enforce prescribed penalties.

10-1-2   Umpire jurisdiction begins upon the umpires arriving at the field (within the confines of the field) and ends when the umpires leave the playing field at the conclusion of the game.

10-1-3   If there is only one umpire, he has complete jurisdiction in administering the rules and he may take any position he desires, preferably behind the catcher.

10-1-4   Any umpire’s decision which involves judgment, such as whether a hit is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out, is final. But if there is reasonable doubt about some decision being in conflict with the rules, the coach or captain may ask that the correct ruling be made. The umpire making the decision may ask another umpire for information before making a final decision. No umpire shall criticize or interfere with another umpire’s decision unless asked by the one making it.

a.   The umpire-in-chief sometimes asks for aid from the base umpire when there is a question as to whether a batter’s “half swing” is such as to be called a strike. As an aid in deciding, the umpire may note whether the swing carried the barrel of the bat past the body of the batter, but final decision is based on whether the batter actually struck at the ball.

10-1-5   The use of videotape or equipment by game officials for the purpose of making calls or rendering decisions is prohibited.

10-1-6   No umpire may be replaced during a game unless he becomes ill or is injured. His right to disqualify players or to remove nonplayers for objecting to decisions or for unsportsmanlike conduct is absolute. Ejections will be made at the end of playing action.

10-1-7   Casts, splints and braces may be worn, if padded. Umpires may wear prostheses and use mobility devices.

10-1-8   Umpires shall not use tobacco or tobacco-like products on or in the vicinity of the playing field.

10-1-9   Umpires shall wear gray slacks, and navy pullover shirt or state association-adopted shirt.


10-2-1   If there are two or more umpires, the umpire-in-chief shall stand behind the catcher. The umpire-in-chief, when behind the plate, shall wear proper safety equipment including, but not limited to, chest protector, face mask, throat guard, plate shoes, shin guards and protective cup (if male). He shall call and count balls and strikes; signal fair balls; call out “Foul Ball,” except on a caught foul fly ball, while signaling a foul ball, except on fair/foul situations commonly called by the field umpire(s); and make all decisions on the batter. He shall make all decisions except those commonly reserved for the field umpire.

10-2-2   The umpire-in-chief has sole authority to forfeit a game and has jurisdiction over any rules matters not mentioned in 10-2-1 and not assigned to the field umpire in 10-3.

10-2-3   His duties include those listed in 10-2-1, 2 and the following:

  1. Inspect equipment and condition of field, receive batting order of both teams, announce special ground rules and formulate such if the two teams cannot agree, designate the official scorer (9-2-2) and see that each player takes his glove and other loose equipment to the bench at the end of his term in the field.
  2. Call “Play” and use the correct hand signal to start the game or to resume play; and call “Time” whenever ball becomes dead.
  3. Eject a player or coach or clear the bench or send a coach from the field or restrict a coach or player (illegal substitution) to the bench/dugout if it becomes necessary.
  4. Announce each substitution.
  5. Call game if conditions become unfit for play.
  6. Penalize for rule infractions, such as balk, interference, baserunning infractions, delay, unwarranted disputing of decision, or unsportsmanlike conduct.
  7. Make final decision on points not covered by the rules.
  8. Forfeit the game for prescribed infractions by spectators, coaches, players or attendants.
  9. When game is played under the auspices of an organization which permits protests to be filed, he shall report the protest to the organization along with all related conditions at the time of the protested play, provided the protest is brought to the attention of an umpire by the offended team at the time of the play and before the next pitch after such play, or before the umpires leave the field if the play in question is the last play of the game. The umpire-in-chief shall then inform the coach of the opposing team and the official scorekeeper.
    1. If there is a question about a rule that was possibly misapplied, the team’s coach or captain shall inform the umpire at time of the play and before a pitch to the next batter of either team, or before the umpires leave the field if the play in question was the last play of the game.
  10. Keep a written record of defensive and offensive team charged conferences for each team and notify the respective coach each time a conference is charged to his team. He shall also be responsible for keeping a lineup card and recording all substitutes, courtesy runner participation, and team warnings (1-1-5, 3-4-1, Courtesy Runner Rule #6).
  11. Prohibit a player who has been rendered apparently unconscious during a game to resume playing that day without written authorization from a physician (MD/DO).
  12. Rectify any situation in which an umpire’s decision that was reversed has placed either team at a disadvantage.
  13. Correct a scorekeeping error if brought to an umpire’s attention before the umpires leave the field when the game is over.
  14. Order the lights turned on whenever he believes darkness could make further play hazardous. Whenever possible, lights should be turned on at the beginning of an inning.

Section 3 - FIELD UMPIRE

10-3-1   A field umpire shall aid the umpire-in-chief in administering the rules. He shall make all decisions on the bases except those reserved for the umpire-in-chief. He shall have concurrent jurisdiction with the umpire-in-chief in calling time, balks, infield fly, defacement or discoloration of ball by the pitcher, illegal pitches, when a fly ball is caught, or in ejecting any coach or player for flagrant, unsportsmanlike conduct or infraction as prescribed by the rules. In some instances, he will rule on the ball being fair or foul.

10-3-2   When there is only one field umpire, he shall make all calls pri marily at first, second and third unless the calls are more conveniently made by the umpire-in-chief.

10-3-3   If additional field umpires are used, they are referred to as base umpires and their normal positions are behind third and second bases. They have concurrent jurisdiction with the first field umpire.



2020 NFHS Baseball Rules

Table of Contents

NFHS Rule Changes 2020

Rule 1 - Players, Field & Equipment

Rule 2 - Playing Terms & Definitions

Rule 3 - Substituting, Coaching, etc.

Rule 4 - Starting & Ending the Game

Rule 5 - Dead Ball – Suspension of Play

Rule 6 - Pitching

Rule 7 - Batting

Rule 8 - Base Running

Rule 9 - Scoring – Record Keeping

Rule 10 - Umpiring

Appendices to the Rules

INDEX to the NFHS/FED Rules

[ Version 5.0, February 2020 ]
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