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Three rule changes for junior baseball teams

Three rule changes for junior baseball teams
(Photo by Eldon Lindsay)

The 2014 American Legion Baseball season gets underway Jan. 1 with new rules for all junior teams that departments may elect to adopt. Coaches and department baseball chairman voiced their ideas for possible rule changes in a recent Legion Baseball survey, and the Legion Baseball Subcommittee and National Americanism Commission listened.

The three rule changes that will be in the 2014 Legion Baseball Rule Book are:

Rule 1 E. Courtesy runners. Teams have the option to use a courtesy runner for the pitcher or catcher at any time. For speed-up purposes, it is recommended that the courtesy runner be used with two men out in all games.

Rule 1 G. Designated hitter. A hitter may be (not mandatory) designated for any one starting player (not just pitchers) and all subsequent substitutes for that player in the game. A starting defensive player cannot be listed as the designated hitter in the starting lineup. A designated hitter for said player shall be selected prior to the start of the game, and his name shall be included on the lineup cards presented to the umpire-in-chief and to the official scorer. Failure to declare a designated hitter prior to the game precludes the use of a designated hitter in that game.

Rule 1 Q: Re-entry. Any of the starting players, with the exception of the pitcher and the designated hitter, may withdraw from the game and re-enter once, provided such players occupy the same batting position whenever they re-enter the lineup. Starting pitchers and designated hitters that change positions later in the same game are NOT eligible to re-enter.

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Bob Williams, Illinios

July 6, 2014 - 11:13am

Why would coaches not want more players to be part of the game when there main job as a Jr. Legion coach is to teach the game. As an umpire and past player I know that a mistake during live action will make a strong point on a player as the coach tells him what went wrong with the young man's thinking and decision on the play or at bat. Games go smother with courtesy runners and once again another bench person gets some live game time. If you are a coach and do not use your line-up in the course of a long summer season you need to reconsider the age group you wish to coach. This is the age group that needs your expertise as coach, please coach them all.

Steve 23

February 6, 2014 - 6:48pm

When you apply the DH rule to someone other than the pitcher you have now created a DF rule. A baseball player that stands out on the field and does not come to bat is not a baseball player. I am not doing that to one of my players.If he can't learn to hit enough to be included in the batting order then his Legion career will be over.

Steve 51

July 28, 2014 - 8:10am

I love the DH rule for any player. We had a player injury his throwing arm this season but was still able to bat. He finished the season with a batting average of 450 and was second in RBI's and lead the team with on base percentage. He would hit for our catcher or who ever was struggling at the plate at any given point in the season. This also allowed for our catcher to have some down time in the shade during some long hot games. This DH rule also stays consistent with the NFHS DH rule.

Legion Coach

February 2, 2014 - 11:17pm

Kudos to American Legion Baseball for making a positive step. We as coaches are not out there auditioning for jobs as major league coaches, this game is about the kids. We are gearing back to a younger group (primarily high school kids) in 2015 and these rules do not hurt the integrity of the game but allow more kids to be involved in the game. Those with issues about these rules are those that appear to making the game about them. The allowing of a DH for someone other than the pitcher, using courtesy runners and re-entry are only a problem if we as coaches allow it to be. Teaching the fundamentals, participation and keeping kids involved in this great game is what our role as coaches should be.

Bob S - Pgh, PA

January 22, 2014 - 12:17pm

First, I applaud American Legion Baseballs initiative last year to survey the coaches, umpires, and current leadership on the state of affairs in American Legion Baseball to include opinions on the rules. I hope that the 2014 rule changes are the direct result of careful review of input collected from those surveys. In my opinion, as I responded in the survey, aligning American Legion Baseball rules more closely with high school rules is a positive move for legion baseball! Making the local high school baseball squad is the goal of most legion players and adjusting them to high school baseball rules in the summer helps them to make it to the "next level" - high school baseball. Senior/Junior Legion Baseball and high school baseball is REAL baseball to players of this age; the vast, vast majority of theses players statistically will never play at the major league level, thus why force the restrictive rules of MLB on young legion players. Even D1 college baseball includes courtesy runners, the DH rule, and the re-entry rule, just like legion baseball (thanks to the new rule changes) and high school baseball. Thank you for the "REAL" changes to legion baseball for 2014.

JLG - Wisconsin

January 22, 2014 - 5:38pm

These are not the "rules" for baseball above the high school level. This is why there are umpiring errors in game administration for AL baseball. Re-think your answers and include factual information.

Oscar R, AZ

November 19, 2013 - 3:36pm

These rules are exactly the same for NFHS rules. Which are the rules that all High School coaches abide by. Allows more players to play, Speeds the game up so Pithers especially catchers can get there gear on and be ready to go. This will increase more teams to participate especially in The High School Teams. It would be a positive change.

John H.

October 31, 2013 - 8:15pm

I was contemplating putting our Post sponsored Jr.Legion team on the field in 2014 for the 32nd year. 32 YEARS!!!!!!!! If these kiddie rules are implemented, that decision goes out the window. American Legion Baseball has always been REAL BASEBALL. These rules will be a nail in the coffin of the Legion Program, especially if it makes its way to the 'AAA' Program!

Charlie F Triplett

January 13, 2014 - 10:43pm

John, At least in Tidewater, Virginia, American Legion is battling to win back their rightful place in summer baseball for players whose families can't afford to pay the price for AAU/USSSA baseball. These rule changes, to enhance the flow of the game, recognize the need to protect the young bodies of junior players and don't substantially detractfrom the integrity of the game. Legion Baseball needs to beasprogressive as Little League. Little League moved the fence back from 200 to 220 feet, has ventured into the 70 foot bases forwhat used to be majors. Youth athletes are changing, our organizations that support them need to as well.

Lorie F

October 31, 2013 - 1:55pm

Leave the game alone..Just improve the safety of the kids; i.e. the finger printing of all adults dealing with the kids, better safety equipment, etc.

Mike M

October 30, 2013 - 9:18pm

You continue to relegate a great tradition to something very similar to AYSO Soccer. A terrible decision that no doubt you will inflict on the Seniors and continue to drive this great game to shear mediocrity. Great job.

Joe B.

October 30, 2013 - 3:51pm

So basically Jr. Legion has taken a step closer to being Little League...

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