When the Rules aren’t the Rules

Baseball at its heart is a very simple game. Hit the ball, run in a circle and score a run. Other side, try to get three guys out before they circle the bases. Yeah, there are nuances and oddities in there, but for the most part weeks will go by when all that is called is out/safe, ball/strike and fair/foul.

The challenge becomes really knowing the rules when something odd does happen. Then, for umpires that do multiple leagues, the challenge on top of the challenge becomes knowing the rule differences.

I wanted to write a quick post discussing all the potential leagues out there and what rule set they use.

There are 3 base rule sets:

  • OBR – stands for Official Baseball Rules. These are the rules that govern Major League Baseball. RuleGraphics is based on this rule set
  • NCAA – College rules are very similar to OBR rules with some differences based on participation and safety. RuleGraphics would be the same in about 80-85% on instances.
  • NFHS – High school rules are a bit different from OBR. In addition to changes for participation and safety, this rule set has some differences making in “simpler” for umpires in some situations. There are about 220 differences between OBR and NFHS rules. Most are small. RuleGraphics would be the same in about 70-75% of instances

The key question becomes how does this relate to your child’s ball game. Again, I am taking broad strokes, but in general here is a breakdown.

  • Little League – uses the same base rules as OBR. They do have added safety and participation rules. But the core rules are similar. RuleGraphics would apply to these leagues.
  • Babe Ruth / Cal Ripken – uses the same base rules as OBR. In fact, the Babe Ruth Rulebook is a direct copy of the Major League Baseball rule book with sections added noting the difference. Again, most are safety and participation related. RuleGraphics would apply in these leagues
  • Pony League – OBR based like LIttle League and Babe Ruth. RuleGraphics would apply. Again, some age based modifications made for safety and participation
  • Other Youth Leagues – Dixie, and USSSA use OBR based rules with modifications. RuleGraphics would apply
  • Travel Tournaments – In my neck of the woods most of these tournaments use NFHS rules. Check your local listings

If you are super interested in learning all the minutia around the differences. This is a great resource.

If your desire is to learn the basics of the rules for your child’s game, there is a good chance RuleGraphics will get you what you need to know.


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