The Batter Uses an Illegal Bat


A.      HIGH SCHOOL – A batter may not use an illegal bat (as opposed to defective).  PENALTY – If the infraction is discovered by the umpire or the defense before the next pitch to a batter of either team, the defense may elect the penalty (batter out, runners return to the Time of the Pitch (TOP)  [7-4-1a; 7.4.1d]B.      NCAA – If the batter uses an altered bat, he is out; runners return to the Time of the Pitch (TOP) [1-12a Penalty; 7-10b Penalty).  No out is called for a ‘pine-tar’ bat, or for any bat illegal for other cause, such as a loose knob, no safety grip, dented, bent, etc. (1-12c Penalty)C.      OFFICIAL BASEBALL RULES (OBR) – If the batter uses an altered bat, he is out, ejected, and in MLB possibly subject to additional penalties.  Runners must return TOP though any outs on the play will stand.  (5.09d; 6.06d)Note:  Neither NCAA nor OBR gives a time frame for the appeal.  NCAA says ‘after hitting’; OBR says, “He uses.”  BRD recommends: Do not allow an appeal after the next pitch to a batter of either team.Authoritative Opinion by Jaksa/Roder:  “An appeal that an altered bat has been used must be made before the identification of the bat that was actually used becomes questionable.  If a suspect bat has been removed to the vicinity of the dugout (usually by the batboy) and the umpires are not absolutely positive which bat was used, the appeal can no longer be considered.” 

Play – Bases loaded, 1 out:  B1 singles.  R3 and R2 score, but tremendous defensive work gets R1 out going for 3rd and B1 out for trying to sneak into 2nd.  3 outs, 2 runs in.  The sides  change, and the pitcher prepares to pitch when the team now at bat appeals that B1 used an illegal bat altered to increase the distance factor.  After inspecting the bat, the umpire agrees.

Ruling – In HIGH SCHOOL, the coach may accept the play (if he wants the inning over, or he may send the runners back and take his chances with 2 outs.  In NCAA, no runs are in:  The bases are loaded, now with 2 outs.  In OBR, B1 is out and ejected.  The out made by R1 also stands, so 3 outs and no runs in.Note: Several people emailed to ask why the runs didn’t count in OBR.  “It’s a time play,” Randy from Arizona wrote.  “If there’s no force play, runs that score before the 3rd out count.  We are so accustomed to the batter making a ‘real out’ that it’s hard to equate a technical out with the rules.  The runs don’t score because the batter-runner (B1) did not make 1st base safely. 

Play – B1 steps into the box with a bat altered to increase the distance factor and homers.  Next, B2, the on-deck batter who is holding the same bat, marches into the box.  At that moment the defense appeals the illegal bat.

Ruling – In NCAA, the defense has blundered: B1 simply gets a legal bat, while giving the opponents the raspberries.  In HIGH SCHOOL and OBR, the defense has obtained a double play:  B1 is out for using an altered bat; B2, for trying to use such a bat.


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