NFHS / Pro Baseball Rules Differences

Steve O's Baseball Umpire Resoures 

compiled & edited by Steve Orinick

Beginning with the major rules differences in the NFHS rulebook (which was originally one short page), I intially expanded this umpiring aid this some time ago by adding rule excerpts to the simple list to assist high school umpires working baseball under Pro rules. I have extended the content significantly, attempting to be as all-inclusive as possible. Updated for 2015.
Please send an email if you can add to the list.

NFHS BB-SB Rules Differences / 2014 OBR

NFHS Rules / Official Baseball Rules

Defense in fair territory at time of pitch with minimum one foot in fair territory (except catcher): penalty-illegal pitch (2-18) 1-1-4 4.03 Two feet necessary (except catcher) - PBUC Umpire Manuel (3.16) states not to insist 1st baseman play with both feet in fair territory unless offensive team protests
Jewlery shall not be worn...religious and medical exception 1-5-12, 3-3-1(c) 3.15 PBUC Umpire Manual No "distracting" jewelry 
Playing Field: Distance/Size: 300 ft foul lines, 350 ft. center, etc. 1-2-5 1.04 320 ft foul lines, 400 ft. center, etc.
Bases 15" square, 2"-5" thickness, disengage from anchor system, double 1st base permitted by state adoption (1 colored base in foul territory), etc. 1-2-9 1.06 Bases 15" square, 3"-5" thickness
Legal Bat. Non-wood bats must meet BBCOR standard. 36" in length or less. Diameter @ thickest part: 2 3/4" or less (wood), 2 5/8" or less (non-wood). Max. minus 3 weight differential
Maximum diameter 2.62", not more than 42" in length, no length minus weight differential. Wood only. No BBCOR
Pitcher may wear two-tone glove (no white or grey) 1-3-6 1.15 Colors limited, not distracting
Catcher's glove may be any size 1-3-6 1.12 Size of catcher's glove limited
1st baseman's glove can be worn by any fielder 1-3-6 1.13 1st baseman's glove has specific size specifications which difer from fielder's gloves
Uniform requirements - should / shall 1-4 1.11 Uniform requirements - 2 sets, etc.
Pitcher may wear batting glove if not distracting to the batter 1-4-2 3.12 - PBUC Umpire Manuel Pitcher may not wear batting glove while pitching
Catcher's helmet testing restrictions-must be full helmet or two piece tested together, full ear protection, NOCSAE standard 1-4-8 No rule Ear protection not required, no testing standards
Helmets must have non-glare surface. meets NOCSAE standard at time of manufacture
No rule
Intentional base on balls. Dead ball award
Pitches must be thrown
Catch definition 2-9-1 2.0 Catch definition: includes voluntary & intentional release
7 inning game 2-17-1 4.10 (a-d) 9 inning game
Verbal obstruction 2-22-1 No rule
Obstruction: Always a delayed dead ball. Any obstruction entitles runner to minimum of one base beyond his position when it occurs
2-22-1, 8-3-2
If no play is being made on obstructed runner, play procedes, award if necessary (type B). If play is made on obstructed runner (type A), ball is dead and runner is awarded a minimum of one base. Dead ball immediately if the batter-runner is obstructed before reaching 1st base
Illegal slide: See rule 2-32-2 a-f
No rule
Interpretation: runner must be able to reach the base with a hand or foot or it is interference. Can't roll block or throw cross body block
Courtesy runner for pitcher or catcher 2-33-1 No rule Not permitted
Tobacco (all) chewing illegal 3-1p No rule No longer permitted in minors
Re-entry of starting players
No rule
No re-entry
Designated Hitter for any player, DH and player must remain in same spot in batting order; no multiple substitution to alter batting order permitted
No DH, NL. Pitcher only, AL. Pitcher may only bat in same slot in order if enters game as batter or runner for DH. If DH enters game on defense, pitcher must bat in slot vacated by player replaced on defense, multiple substitution permitted which terminates DH
...any amount of blood on uniform...changed or cleaned before individual participates again
9.17 PBUC Umpire Manual
.. garment penetrated by blood or other infectious material...removed immediately or as soon as feasible...In most cases it is expected...can be resolved between innings...may be cases...must be acted upon immediately
Base coaches: "One player or coach may occupy each coach's box..." 3-2-1 4.05(a) "The offensive team shall station two base coaches...". Implies that the offensive team must have two base coaches
Assistant coach leaving dugout or coaching box to argue: he and head coach restricted to bench 3-2-3 No rule
Fielder without ball fakes tag: Obstruction
3-3-1a, 8-3-2
No rule
Malicious contact, collisions
2-21-1b, 3-3-1n
No rule
Umpire discipline of coach: restriction to dugout
3-3-1 Penalty
Ejection. No restriction to dugout provision
Team warnings
3-3-1 Penalty
No rule
Defensive conferences.
Pitcher must be removed on 4th trip. Can have 3 conferences in 1 inning with no pitching change. 1 conference per inning in extra inning game
The second trip to the same pitcher in the same inning results in the pitcher's removal from the game. After conference with pitcher is complete, pitcher must complete pitching to current batter or retire the side before he can be removed, unless offense pinch-hits after conference
Offensive conferences: 1 per inning
No rule
Umpires decide if 2nd game of doubleheader is started (unsuitable weather or unfit field) 4-1-1 3.01(b) Umpire-in-Chief of 1st game makes the decision
"Mercy" (10 run) rule after 5 innings or 4 1/2 if home team is leading; can end after 3 full innings if both head coaches & UIC agree (Casebook 4.2.4) 4-2-2 No rule  
Game called after visiting team takes lead or ties the score in top half of inning, score reverts back to last completed inning 4-2-3 4.12(5i) Game is suspended
Backswing interference - ball is dead 5-1-n No rule  
Player removing helmet in live ball territory w/live ball - delayed dead ball - team warning - 2nd violation same team: bench restriction 5-1-2e No rule  
Umpire handles live ball: Ball immediately dead
No effect on play if immediately released, ball remains live
Umpire makes indavertant foul call: Ball immediately dead
No rule
Balk: Ball immediately dead
8.05 Penalty
If balk is followed by a pitch, play continues. If all runners including the batter-runner advance at least one base, balk is nullified, runners liable to be put out. If there is a balk to a base and ball is thrown to the base, ball remains alive. If runner from first advances to second and continues to third while missing second, he is out on appeal
Fair ball lodges in players equipment or uniform - dead ball 5-1-1f (5) No rule  
Making ball live: ...held by pitcher...umpire calls "Play"... 5-1-4 5.11 See rule: ...with a new ball...
Illegal pitch: Ball dead immediately... 6-1 (1-2-3 pen.) 8.01(d) Illegal pitch: Ball unless batter reaches 1st...
If a pitcher is ambidextrous, the umpire shall require the pitcher to face a batter as either a left-handed pitcher or a right-handed pitcher, but not both
8.18 PBUC Umpire Manual
Pitcher must visually indicate which way he will pitch...pitcher must throw one pitch to the batter before any "switch" by either player is allowed...afterwards each may switch once per at bat
Click here for video behind rule
Allowable movements from the windup position: Can't throw to a base without stepping back off the rubber
The Windup Position. The pitcher shall...
Pitching restrictions - state association mandated rest period 6-1-6 No rule  
Pitcher must distinctly wipe pitching hand after bringing in contact with mouth before touching ball 6-2-1e 8.02(a) Pitcher may go to mouth if not in contact with pitcher's plate and clearly wipes the fingers dry
8 warm-up pitches for starting pitcher, 5 in subsequent innings. Within 1 minute from 1st pitch (starting pitcher), from last out of previous 1/2 inning (relief pitcher) 6-2-2 8.03 2:15 to throw unlimited warm-ups (nationally televised game) or 1:55 (locally televisied game)
Pitcher must pitch within 20 seconds of receiving ball 6-2-2c 8.04 With bases unoccupied, pitcher must deliver ball within 12 seconds after receiving ball
Pitcher feet on or astride pitchers plate or within approx. 5 feet of the plate without ball or makes any movement naturally associated with his pitch while off plate-balk. (hidden ball trick) 6-2-5 8.05(i), 8.05 comment Pitcher without ball on or astride rubber or while off the plate, feins pitch: Balk
Batter must have one foot in batter's box thoughout time at bat (see exceptions). Leaving box with both feet and delaying game: called strike 7-2-1(e), 7-3-1 6.02(d) Same. Will be enforced in 2015.
Batter delays after 20 sec: strike, ball is live 7-3-1 6.02(c) Batter refuses to take position in box: strike, ball is dead
Batter is out for hitting ball w/foot completely out of the box OR stepping on home plate: (heel on line, foot on plate... out)*
Batter is out for hitting ball with entire foot out of box
Batter interference on strike 3 with runner stealing, batter is out, runner may be called out 7-3-5 Penalty Batter and runner automatically out
Playing short: one less than in starting lineup, out recorded when at-bat reached 7-4-1 Not permitted Forfiet
Missed base or leaving too soon on a caught ball (Verbal appeal) 8-2 Penalty 7.10 No verbal appeals. No dead ball appeals. Must throw to base while time is in. If defense attempts a play, even if initiated by the offense, they lose the right to appeal. Feint of a throw is not a play. Throw to retire a runner is a play
Ball hit over any fence is a home run 8-3-3a 1.04 Ball hit over fence less the 250 feet from plate can be a ground rule award
Fielder steps into dead ball territory after catch: Each runner awarded one base 8-3-3d 5.10(f), 7.04(c) Any boundary lines are out of play. To make a catch the fielder must have both feet in live area. If catch is made in live area and fielder enters dead ball area while standing ball remains live. It becomes dead if any part of the body, other than hands or feet, touches ground in dead area
Runner interference: Not in 45-ft. lane. Must be in lane up to bag. Any throw. Fielder must be in possesion of ball to leagally obstruct runner. 8-4-1g 6.05(k) Last stride before touching base may be outside lane. Must be "true" throw (legitimate chance to be caught by fielder). Fielder may be in immediate act of receiving a throw to legally obstruct runner.
Runner is out: On a dropped 3rd strike, he gives up by entering the bench or dugout area or with 2 outs does not attempt to reach 1st base before all infielders leave the diamond... 8-4-1i 6.09(b) Comment ...once he leaves the dirt circle surrounding home plate
Illegal to dive over fielder 8-4-2d No rule Permitted
Runner shall slide or avoid contact on a force or tag play 8-4-2b,c,d,e,f No rule
Interference on a double play attempt 8-4-2g 7.09(g) Interference must be willful and deliberate for a double play to be called. Otherwise, only the runner is out. If interference is on the first play, runners return to base occupied at time of pitch
No bowling over catcher 8-4-2f 7.13  Limited collisions at home plate
see new rule for 2014
Winning starting pitcher must pitch 4 innings 9-6-6a 10.19(a) Winning starting pitcher must pitch 5 innings
Umpire jurisdiction - begins when the umpires arrive at the confines of the field for the purpose of officiating the game; ends when umpires leave the playing field, but retain clerical authority 10-1-2 4.01 Umpire jurisdiction - begins when the home team's lineup is presented to the plate umpire; no rule addressing end of jurisdiction
UIC may ask for help on checked swing, not required 10-1-4a 9.02(c) notes If requested by catcher or manager, plate umpire must ask for help
Rectify any situation in which a reversed umpire's decision has placed either team at a disadvantage (example: an overturned check swing) 10-2-3l No rule  
Not a balk No rule 8.05 (c) comment Balk: 3rd to 1st move from the rubber
Replay prohibited     Limited replay

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