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Ask the Ump – Play 19

Play: While coaching first base for a Middlesex County Legion team I came across a situation I would like you to clarify. The pitcher contacted the rubber with his toe in the set position with a runner on first(his heel in the air). My job of course is to watch the heel of the pitcher to help my base runner not get picked off. Because he has contact with the rubber I understand that this is a legal foot position. I noticed that the further along in the game the pitcher could not continue this position because of fatigue and his heel eventually lay flat. Was he not deceiving the runners in previous innings with the foot position. It was difficult to get a read on his heel while it was in the air. I must admit this was a great way to keep runners close but it did not seem very fair. Your comments please.

Set Position: Entire Pivot Foot In Contact with the Rubber

Ruling: Both the Major League rules and the National Federation High School rules clearly state that the pitcher, in set position must have the entire pivot foot on or in front of and in contact with the pitcher’s plate. In the play that you cite, the pitcher failed to comply with the rule each time he pitched with his heel in the air. The penalty for this rules violation is a balk with one or more runners on base and a ball awarded to the batter.

Sources: MLB 8.01(b), 8.05 (e); NFHS 6.1.3 and 6.1.3 Penalty

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