Baseball has thousands of rules to prepare those involved for the unlimited possible outcomes the game presents. With so many rules, and so many of them being rarely used, it can be difficult to keep track of every rule without a rulebook in your back pocket.
1. Rule 4.06 – No Fraternization
“Players in uniform shall not address or mingle with spectators, nor sit in the stands before, during, or after a game. No manager, coach or player shall address any spectator before or during a game. Players of opposing teams shall not fraternize at any time while in uniform.”
This is arguably the least enforced rule in baseball. While in baseball’s older years this rule may have been adhered to, nowadays it is all too common to see players fraternizing before, during, and after baseball games. While some baseball traditionalists may prefer to see the players stick with their team and promote competition and rivalry, relationships among players on opposing teams has undeniably become part of the game.
2. Rule 7.05b – Don’t Use Your Hat
“Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance three bases, if a fielder deliberately touches a fair ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play and the batter may advance to home base at his peril;”
While it may be common to try and make a catch with your cap during practice, using anything other than a bare hand or glove will result in a hefty penalty. This penalty will depend on the manner in which you interfered. The four different outcomes are a runner can be awarded one base for a interfering with a pitched ball, two bases for a thrown ball, three bases for a batted ball, and four bases for a batted ball that would have cleared the fence in flight.
3. Rule 6.04 Unsportsmanlike Conduct
“When a manager, player, coach or trainer is ejected from a game, he shall leave the field immediately and take no further part in that game. He shall remain in the club house or change to street clothes and either leave the park or take a seat in the grandstand well removed from the vicinity of his team’s bench or bullpen.”
Ejections are some of the most entertaining moments involved in a baseball game. Once the ejection has taken place, it is the ejected individual’s responsibility to leave the field of play. They have the option to hit the showers and remain in the clubhouse, or if they prefer, go take a seat in the stands. So depending on your luck, you could possibly find yourself sitting next to a Major League coach/player post-ejection.
4. Rule 8.01 Ambidextrous Pitchers
“A pitcher must indicate visually to the umpire-in-chief, the batter, and any runners the hand with which he intends to pitch, which may be done by wearing his glove on the other hand while touching the pitcher’s plate. The pitcher is not permitted to pitch with the other hand until the batter is retired, the batter becomes a runner, the inning ends, the batter is substituted for by a pinch-hitter, or the pitcher incurs an injury. In the event a pitcher switches pitching hands during an at-bat because he has suffered an injury, the pitcher may not, for the remainder of the game, pitch with the hand from which he has switched. The pitcher shall not be given the opportunity to throw any preparatory pitches after switching pitching hands. Any change of pitching hands must be indicated clearly to the umpire-in-chief.”
There have only been a small handful of ambidextrous pitchers in the history of the game. However, there are still rules to minimize the tremendous advantage that comes with being ambidextrous. These pitchers must clearly declare to the batter, umpire, and base runner which hand they will be throwing with.
5. Rule 10.15 Strikeouts
“When a batter leaves the game with two strikes against him, and the substitute batter completes a strikeout, the official scorer shall charge the strikeout and the time at bat to the first batter. If the substitute batter completes the turn at bat in any other manner, including a base on balls, the official scorer shall score the action as having been that of the substitute batter.”
While pinch-hitting with two strikes is very rare, it is a win-win situation for the pinch hitter. If the pinch hitter strikes out, the original hitter is charged with the strikeout. However if the pinch hitter gets a base hit or walk, the pinch hitter is credited with the result.
Baseball is a game of many rules and countless intricacies. It takes years of experience and being surrounded by the game to truly understand these small details. With some of these occurrences being so rare, some players may never experience these situations throughout their entire career.