The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Jeff Parsons
columnist Baseball by the Book 

Rough me up


One of the most overlooked rules in the book is the treatment of the baseball itself.

Why? you ask. First, a little background.

The American baseball is made with a small squishy ball center wrapped in lots of thread. Nine inches of leather is then hand sewn using 216 single stitches to cover the ball, bringing it to its legal size and weight of 9 inches around and 5 ounces in weight. Different sizes are made depending on the country and the level of play.

Each baseball has a waxy type coating on the leather to make it look nice and to preserve it during shipping. It is the responsibility of the Official (no one else) to remove this coating using and approved medium, typically a light muddy substance, before the start of each game. This substance is to simply remove the sheen without altering the baseball. The Official, being the only true representative of baseball, does this to keep it fair for both teams. To the game of Baseball, altering a baseball to gain an advantage is called “defacing,” our topic of the day.

Pick up your book, flip to the index and look up the word “Baseball.” You will see the word “Defaced” with rule 3.02 and 8.02(a).

Based on Rule 3.02, the offender caught intentionally defacing a baseball by applying any foreign substance to the ball is to be ejected immediately from the game and the ball removed from play. There are two key bits in this rule: “Intentionally” and “Foreign Substance.” Simply rubbing the ball between your hands is acceptable, but once someone “intentionally” alters the ball using anything beyond this is considered a “foreign substance.”

Rule 8.02(a) sub lines 1 thru 6, goes into detail concerning the pitchers role. Without going too deep at this point, the results are the same.

As you can guess, over the past 32 years I have seen some real gems. Here are a few:

A pitcher pounding the ball with the rosin bag.

Bye Bye.

Someone using a nickel in the dugout in the attempt to raise the seams.

No more Coach.

A Pitcher “intentionally” sneezing in his glove then rubbing it into the ball.

Gross and gone.

And my all time favorite:

A pitcher dropping the ball on the mound and grinding it into in the dirt with his cleats.

See ya

(By the way, the coach got tossed too because he told the pitcher to do this, yelling it from the dugout)

I know it sounds funny and hard to believe, but some are willing to try anything to gain an advantage.

The rules of baseball are designed for teams, coaches and players to have a fair and level playing field. Baseball takes a very dim view on those who break the rules and those who try to bend the rules in their favor. That’s why each rule has situation rulings attached, all directed to keep the play fair.

My suggestion to gain the advantage over your opponent? Prepare, practice and execute.


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