Pitcher allegedly intentionally throwing at batters

  • Our league has a situation where a pitcher has made threats to kids at school that he was going to hit them when pitching. Then in the games this pitcher does indeed hit batters with 60+ mph fastballs. We are unable to confirm if these were done intentionally, or if the player threatened was also the player hit. This pitcher has a history of throwing very hard, and also a history of some wildness that leads to hit batters.

    We are looking for guidelines on handling such matters. I do not see specific language in the rule book regarding disciplinary actions for players. We have a local rule that a pitcher must be removed from the game once he hits 3 batters, and this particular pitcher has been removed per this rule multiple times.

    I would be interested in the online community's input.

    Thank you.

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  • First, a local rule for removing a pitcher for hitting 3 batters, although well intentioned, is a bad rule (in my opinion).

    All hit batters are not the same. What if 2 of the 3 bounced in the dirt before hitting the batter?

    Removing a pitcher for hitting batters is up to the manager, same as removing a pitcher for walking batters.

    It's up to the manager to determine when the pitcher needs to be removed.

    Now, as for intentionally hitting a batter. If the Umpire truly believes the pitcher intentionally threw at/hit a batter the pitcher should be ejected, no warning, just ejected. At that point, the BOD could impose an additional penalty to the required one game suspension.

    Probably your best option in this situation is for your Board to call for a "Disiplinary Hearing" on the issue.

    Gather "the facts" as best you can.

    Schedule the hearing, invite the player, his manager and his parents.

    The BOD listens to both sides of the issue and then decides what to do.

    It takes 2/3 vote of the BOD to discipline/suspend the player.

  • Not only is a local rule that requires a pitcher to be removed after hitting three batters bad, it's not allowed without a waiver from Williamsport, because such a rule contradicts the Little League rule book.

    Now here's something I think Little League needs to correct: The Little League rule regarding a pitcher intentionally throwing at a batter states that "if, in the umpire's judgment, such violation occurs, the umpire shall warn the pitcher and the manager of the defense that another such pitch will mean the immediate expulsion of the pitcher."

    That's too lenient. I think the pro rule should be adopted: The umpire can immediately eject the pitcher the first time and, if warranted, eject the manager.

  • It's unsportsmanlike to intentionally throw at a batter. No need for any other rule reference.

    Do not use what you see the pros do as any sort of guideline for what should be happening on a LL field, in this regard. If an umpire is positive it's intentional, whether they hit them or not, they've got to go. No warning, just gone.

  • Unfortunately, the Little League rule clearly states that if the umpire believes the pitcher did intentionally throw at a hitter, the umpire "shall warn" the pitcher. The rule doesn't give the umpire the option to eject the first time.

    The Little League rule is surprisingly lenient compared to the pro rule. It, in effect, gives the pitcher a free pass to throw at one hitter with no penalty except a "don't do that again."

  • That's simply not true. I can eject for UC, which is a pure judgement call, for an intentional plunking. UC is a pretty big umbrella, which can cover the holes that the long green book has permitted.

    The real trick is knowing when it's intentional.

    Try this: If a manger says, "Hit him with the next pitch", then it happens, nobody in their right mind is going to issue a warning. If you're certain it's intentional, you're obliged to dump him.

    Now, if you suspect there might be a start of a bean-ball war coming, then warn both sides. I think that's what you're thinking of, not the no-doubt, that's what that was, plunking. Yeah, I know what the LL rule states, but OBR should be guiding everyone on this.

    Hey WP! OBR has two options for this. Dump, or warn. Your book just say warn, and is causing confusion for some folks. Yeah, I know we can use UC for this, and take care of our own business, but how 'bout including that language from OBR?

  • The rule on a pitcher intentionally throwing at a batter clearly states that the umpire "shall warn" the pitcher. It does not say the umpire can eject the pitcher. "Shall" means "must." It's not an elective course of action.

  • Thanks everyone for your input. Hoping to direct the conversation in this direction....

    We have heard from kids and parents that this pitcher is threatening to hit kids.

    Kids are getting hit (in some cases the kids that were threatened, in some cases others)

    In the game it does not appear intentional.

    In fact, it might not be intentional.

    But the threats at the school yard and at the fields, combined with the hit by pitches (whether intentional or not), have created a problem with parents. And we can see this starting to grow... As a board we need to formally address the situation.

    At last Saturday's game a boy was hit in the helmet with a 60+ mph fastball. Kids are scared, parents are nervous and in some cases angry.

    We have no evidence that this is actually intentional, but it might be. There was nothing going on in the game to make the umpire believe that it is intentional.

    Louis posted previously about a disciplinary Board of Directors meeting with the child, parent and manager present... with a vote that could lead to a suspension. This is certainly one such path.

    Any other recommendations? Have you had anything similar to this in your league?

  • John - I am not saying that this might be the case but think of it this way:

    Johnny Rocketarm throws harder than any other pitcher but has control issues. He goes around school telling kids he is going to plunk them in the game that night but the issue is he can't control his pitching. What you have here is a bit of intimidation. He has players backing out and maybe even swinging at the same time.

    Be very VERY careful how you treat this. I think Louis has the best idea. Let the kid know as a BOD you won't stand for this intimidation.

    If the umpire hears of this before the game he can eject him for UC. People need to remember to sometimes umpire BY the book and not always WITH the book.

  • A few years ago in my league, we had a player telling his classmates he would be hitting them in an upcoming game. Was it intimidation? Was it a real threat? Was he joking around? A batter ended up with a broken nose. From what I recall, the players involved were best friends.....unfortunately, I do not know if there were any warnings, ejections.....

  • Has anybody talked to this kid's parents? The president and player agent should probably let the kid's folks know what's going on at school, and the perception that it is being brought onto the field.

    What about the kid's manager? Does he/she know? I know that if I were the manager of this kid, I'd tell him in no uncertain terms that his threats at school and his actions on the field are intolerable, and I'd better not see what I perceive is an intentional pitch at a batter. This is LL, not high school or college ball!

  • I will side with Tom on this somewhat. The BOD should have a conversation with coach and parents... not even include the child necessarily. Let them (coach and parents) have the conversation with the kid... if he's been saying it, knock it off. If he's been doing it, REALLY knock it off.

    As president or UIC, the umpires for the next few games become aware of the situation. Any hint, a warning comes down HARD. And I mean to scare the kid when the umpire does it... not to be mean, but to put an end to any and all of it, discussion or otherwise. Keep in mind that the coach doesn't want to get tossed, either. And I'm going to come hard at him, as well. Coach is going to know coming out of that parent meeting that if he gets tossed for this, the BOD is going to give him more than "plus-1" and the parents are going to know that there is a real good chance their child would be getting that, too. That also lets coach think about the fact that when that warning comes down, does he even leave him out there to pitch?

    Now... with all of that said, they are still kids and you don't want to mess this kid up if you set forth orders and he accidentally plunks someone. Yes, the kid has brought this on himself somewhat with his bravado... but you also remember kids will be kids. When they hit age 14 and up, I take "throwing at someone" a lot more seriously than I do at 11 or 12. Can it hurt the same? Sure. But do they understand what they are saying and doing? Not entirely.

  • What happens if a kid is hit in the face thenthen the next at bat for the same player he is hit in the head!!! Shouldn't the umpr same something warn the pitcher or talk to the coaches