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North Wake County Baseball Association




Rookie League Rules of Play

Rev. 3/2007





The Rookie League was established to provide children with a wholesome learning experience by teaching them to play as part of a team, to build character, and to learn baseball fundamentals.  The pressures of competition should not be stressed at this level.  Winning or losing a game, or the score of a game, should be secondary to providing your team a positive learning experience.




1.     General Rules of Play





A.     All coaches, players, parents and spectators are expected to conduct themselves at all times, exhibiting the highest level of sportsmanship.  Poor sportsmanship may result in the coach, player, parent or spectator being removed from the game, the field, or permanently barred from participation in the league.  Ultimately, the head coach of each team will be held accountable for the sportsmanship exhibited or not exhibited by himself, his assistants, his players, his players parents, and his teams spectators.  If one of the above crosses the line, it will be expected that the head coach will take the necessary action to stop the behavior at the time, and in the future.


B.     All players must wear a hard protective cup for their safety.  No soft cups are permitted.


  1. One umpire is provided by each team.  The home team is responsible for the home plate umpire, and the visiting team is responsible for the base umpire.  Coaches should ensure that the umpires are familiar with the rules of play, prior to the start of the game.


  1. The home team is responsible for keeping the official scorebook.


  1. Each team is to provide at least one new game ball per game.


  1. The home team is responsible for the preparation of the field prior to the game, including but not limited to:  dragging the field, putting out the game bases, chalking the field.


  1. The visiting team is responsible for field cleanup after the game, including but not limited to:  removing game bases and putting old bases out, locking of both sheds, picking up of all trash lying anywhere in the field area, removal of full trash bags to the schools trash dumpster.


  1. No smoking is permitted at any NWCBA events, including but not limited to head coaches, assistant coaches, umpires, etc. on or near field.


  1. Alcoholic beverages may not be consumed on the field, in the bench area, anywhere near the field, or in the parking lot; prior to, during or after a game or practice.  No one may be in any of the above areas under the influence of alcohol or drugs that was consumed prior to their arrival at the facility.


  1. A minimum of nine (9) players will be required to start and continue a game.  If one team has less than nine players, they must forfeit the game; or attempt a reschedule if their opposing team is willing, and fields are available.  Each team will have ten (10) minutes after the scheduled start time of a game, to see if they can get the minimum of nine players to start the game.


  1. A game will consist of 6 innings, or 2 hours (less time if schedule indicates), whichever comes first.  No inning may start after 1 hour and 45 minutes from the time the game began, nor 10 minutes before the start of another scheduled game; unless a delay is encountered due to weather.  Games rained out prior to 4 complete innings, will be rescheduled, starting over.


  1. Players are required to wear their team caps and shirts provided to them by the league.  They also must wear baseball pants and a protective cup during the course of a game or practice.  Plastic cleats on shoes are acceptable, metal cleats are not permitted.  Mouthpieces are optional, but recommended.




2.  Offensive Rules of Play



A.     All players attending a game must be in the batting order.  If a player arrives after the game has started, he will be added to the bottom of the order.


B.     When a team is batting, only 3 players should be out of the bench area:  the batter, the player in the on deck circle, and the player in the hole.  All 3 players are required to wear batting helmets.  The player in the hole should be behind the backstop.  All other players should be in the bench area.


C.     A teams at bat, will end when, either 3 outs have occurred, or when 5 runs have been scored, whichever comes first.  In the sixth inning, the run limit becomes 10 for both teams.  If the home team is leading, entering the bottom of the sixth inning, they will bat, only if the visiting team wants them to.


D.     No Big Barrel bats are allowed.  Kids will develop better hand-eye coordination using a small barrel bat.


E.      Batters, who throw the bat, will be issued 1 warning from the plate umpire.  If the same batter throws his bat a second time, then he shall be called out.  He will also be called out for each subsequent time he throws his bat in the game.


F.      Each team should have a coach at first base and at third base, when they are batting.  The coaches may not physically touch the base runners (push them to the next base, hold them back from running), while the ball is in play.  Base coaches should not allow runners to advance after the play is complete.


G.     A coach will pitch to his own team.  It is suggested that he pitch from the rubber, a distance of 45.  For weaker hitters, he can move closer, with the minimum distance being 20 from the plate.


H.     Any ball hit into fair territory is in play.


I.        Each batter will be allowed 8 pitches, or 3 swinging strikes (there are no called strikes), whichever comes first.  If the batter does not swing at the 8th pitch, he is out no exceptions.  If the batter fouls off his third strike, or his 8th pitch, he gets another pitch.  The umpire behind the plate is responsible for keeping track of the pitch count.


J.       There are no walks, and there is no bunting (an obvious attempt by the batter).


K.    If a ball comes into contact with the pitcher, the ball is dead, and replayed.  All runners will return to their bases.  A pitcher is responsible for getting out of the defensive players way, after the making of his pitch.


L.      Runners cannot leave the base until the batter has hit the ball.  The umpire who has authority over a particular base, will call a runner out for leaving the base before the ball is hit.  There is no stealing.  There is no advancing on a passed ball intended for the pitcher/coach.  Runners must slide feet first, directly into a base, if they slide at all.  Head first slides should be discouraged due to player safety concerns.  A runner will be automatically called out if he slides head first into home plate, due to safety concerns.


M.   A play ceases, when an infielder has the ball firmly in his possession, and he is facing the infield, with no intention of making a further play.  At this point in time, the umpires will call the play dead, and direct the runners to the appropriate base.  If a runner is more than halfway to the next base at the moment time is called, he gets that base.  If he is less than halfway to the next base at the moment time is called, he must return to the previous base.  In the event of non-agreement between the two umpires, the home plate umpires call will have priority.



N.    When there is no fence, there will be one base awarded on an overthrow.  Where there is a fence available, play the ball live off of that fence.  Once the ball is under control in the infield, the runners may continue advancing to the next base if they are over half way there.  If not, they must come back to the previous base.  If the defensive player makes an attempt to throw the runner out, the ball has become live again and play resumes.  Please note:  coaches are encouraged to be conservative when having their runners advance on overthrows.  We want to teach proper baseball techniques.  We do not want to encourage teams to throw the ball around due to overly aggressive base running by the opposing team.


O.    All base runners must attempt to avoid a collision with defensive players.  If a defensive player is standing in the baseline, the offensive player must go around.  Base runners may not intentionally collide with defensive players, when taking a base.  Runners must avoid contact, and slide into a base to do so.  Base runners that intentionally collide with a defensive player will be called out.




3.     Defensive Rules of Play



A.     The defensive alignment will include 10 players, 6 in the infield (pitcher, catcher, third base, shortstop, second base and first base), and 4 in the outfield (left field, left center field, right center field, right field).


B.     Each team is to make defensive substitutions and changes each inning.  The other team does not need to be notified of these changes.


C.     If a team has 12 players at a game, each player is required to sit out one inning.  If a team has 13 players (or more) at a game, then some players will need to sit out 2 innings.  No player should ever sit out more than 2 innings.  Note:  do not penalize players who come to practice, show up on time, have good attitudes and work hard, by making them sit out more than others just because they are weak players).


D.     Positions in the Field:


1.      The catcher will occupy the usual catching position.  He must wear full gear (mask and helmet, chest protector, and shin guards).  A catcher must always wear a protective cup.  It is strongly suggested that you teach your catcher proper techniques:  set up behind the plate, crouching on both feet, provide a target, bare hand behind the back.


2.      Pitcher must stand within the white circle around the pitching rubber.  Pitcher may leave the white circle, to make a play on a hit ball.


3.      Infielders should play in the standard positions for their infield spot.  No infielder may stand directly in the baseline.  Teach your infielders to stand in front of or behind the baseline.  All infielders should be taught to not block the base runners path, either at the base, or in the baseline, when not in the action of receiving the ball.  Intentionally interfering with a base runner, will result in the umpire awarding the runner the base.


4.      Outfielders should be positioned 4 across in the outfield, evenly spaced (preferred), or three across, with one rover or short fielder like in softball.  No outfielder may throw to first base on a ground ball in an attempt to retire the hitter.  Throws should go to the cutoff man, or to defenders occupying other bases.  An outfielder MAY throw to first base, after catching a fly ball, in an effort to double up a runner who left first base without tagging up.  This is the ONLY exception.


E.      All players must play a minimum of 2 innings at any of the six infield positions.  All players must play a minimum of 1 inning at any of the four outfield positions.  No player may play more than 2 innings at any one position, over the course of the game, regardless of whether those innings are consecutive or separated.


F.      One defensive coach is allowed on the field when his team is playing defensively.  He must be positioned in the outfield.  The pitcher for the hitting team should check with the defensive coach to make sure his team is ready, prior to delivering a pitch to start an inning.