Unwritten Rules of Baseball
The unwritten rules of baseball are just one of the ways that the game has stood the test of time. From jinxes, on-field etiquette, and cardinal rules of baseball, there is a rich history to our sport which goes back hundreds of years.
Today, we will be exploring some of these unwritten rules and how they apply to youth baseball and softball players. While future generations will certainly bring their own flavor to the game, passing on the unwritten rules of the past is a great way to carry on baseball’s history.
Unwritten Baseball Etiquette for Youth Baseball and Beyond
There is no Emily Post book for baseball etiquette. All we have is time honored traditions and unwritten rules of the game which have been passed down through generations of ballplayers. Here are some unwritten rules to teach your youth athletes:
Never stand in the batter’s box to watch a home run. Admiring a long ball is one thing, but you should be moving down the line as you do it.
Never steal, bunt, or swing on a 3-0 count when your team is up by an insurmountable margin.
Never warm up near the batter’s box when a pitcher is throwing.
Do not show anyone up on the field. Ever.
Do not get visibly upset with a fielder for making an error. This goes for pitchers and other fielders.
Never show up an umpire.
Don’t run onto the mound unless you are the pitcher.
Don’t dig holes or kick lines around the batter’s box.
Baseball Superstitions Over the Years
While these aren’t so much rules as they are silly superstitions, they are deeply embedded into the culture of baseball. Baseball players are a strange and superstitious bunch. Here are some of the more well known unwritten baseball rules when it comes to jinxes and superstitions.
Never Jinx a Perfect Game or a No-Hitter
This one makes me feel dirty just thinking of it, just in case someone out there is working on a no-hit bid. This superstition is so ingrained into baseball’s unwritten rules that even announcers will avoid telling their viewers about a perfect game or no-hit effort in progress.
Instead, announcers might say something like “he has faced the minimum”, “he has retired every batter he faced”, or “_____ have not had a baserunner today”.
Don’t Step on the Foul Lines
During my playing days, I never stepped on the foul line when entering or exiting the field. I can’t speak to what might happen if I had stepped on the line, but I think I may have exploded.
This is one of those baseball superstitions which make absolutely no sense. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
Many players will admit that their superstitious behaviors stemmed from a particularly great day. Maybe they went 4/4 with a home run after eating a Snickers bar. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll start eating Snickers bars before every game.
If you are an athlete, just do us a favor: if you are going to avoid washing your uniform for luck, don’t tell your parents it was our idea!
Unwritten Rules of Youth Baseball Strategy
So far we have covered some of baseball’s unwritten rules for behavior, but what about the unwritten rules for winning the game? Don’t worry, there is no shortage of that list either. Here are some highlights:
Never make the third out at third base. The risk is not worth the perceived reward.
Never walk or hit the lead-off batter.
Center fielders’ calls should always wave off any other position players when calling for a fly ball.
Infielders should always concede to outfielders when the outfielder is calling for a fly ball.
Never take the bat out of your best hitter’s hands.
Pitchers should throw a “chase pitch” on an 0-2 count to try and get a cheap strikeout.
Fielders should never throw behind a runner.
If the opposing pitcher is struggling with command, do not swing until he or she throws a strike.
The list goes on and on. Modern approaches often crunch the numbers for every little detail of the game, but these cardinal rules remain over the years. The unwritten rules of baseball are a great way to teach youth baseball players about the history of the game, the strategy of the game, and how to behave with respect between the lines.
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