Obscure Rules – Top of the Order

Last week Mariano Rivera received a win for a game he, by typical standards, saved, all because of Rule 10.17 (c) which states:

(c) The official scorer shall not credit as the winning pitcher a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when at least one succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain its lead. In such a case, the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the succeeding relief pitcher who was most effective, in the judgment of the official scorer.

Rule 10.17(c) Comment: The official scorer generally should, but is not required to, consider the appearance of a relief pitcher to be ineffective and brief if such relief pitcher pitches less than one inning and allows two or more earned runs to score (even if such runs are charged to a previous pitcher).

This rule isn’t enacted often (in fact, I’ve only been able to find one other instance from recent years – May 7, 2009 Rays v. Yankees), but it made me want to find other obscure rules. 

I’ve mentioned a few in previous posts, but in realizing I had never known of this “the winning pitcher may not actually get the win” nonsense, I wanted to scour the the rules more carefully.

(I am not including all of the text for each rule…this would be a long post, but rather just the portion that is relevant to my comments.)

1.06 First, second and third bases…shall be 15 inches square, not less than three nor more than five inches thick, and filled with soft material.

Did you know there was a height requirement to the bases? Or even, a height range that is acceptable? Do all the bases in one game have to be equal height? Does the height of the base vary by game or ballpark?


(f) Glass buttons and polished metal shall not be used on a uniform.

Who wore a glass button in a game and what happened to him to make this a written rule?


(a) The pitcher’s glove may not, exclusive of piping, be white, gray, nor, in the judgment of an umpire, distracting in any manner. No fielder, regardless of position, may use a fielding glove that falls within a PANTONE® color set lighter than the current 14-series.

Players must be artists too…

3.18 The home team shall provide police protection sufficient to preserve order. If a person, or persons, enter the playing field during a game and interfere in any way with the play, the visiting team may refuse to play until the field is cleared.

PENALTY: If the field is not cleared in a reasonable length of time, which shall in no case be less than 15 minutes after the visiting team’s refusal to play, the umpire-in-chief may forfeit the game to the visiting team.

How does this work during the playoffs? By this rule, back in the 2004 ALCS the Yankees could have refused to play, and have won.

4.18 If the umpire-in-chief declares a game forfeited he shall transmit a written report to the league president within 24 hours thereafter, but failure of such transmittal shall not affect the forfeiture.

So the point of the written report is….?

Rule 6.07 Comment: The umpire shall not direct the attention of any person to the presence in the batter’s box of an improper batter. This rule is designed to require constant vigilance by the players and managers of both teams.

Pay attention, coaches!



I only made it through half the rule book, but I’ll get to the other half soon. Some of these have got to make you wonder what the heck happened to warrant a rule!


Posted on September 19, 2013, in 2017, MLB. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. a treasure trove of useless, but entertaining information.

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