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In a little league championship game, there have been two outs, with a man on second. The batter hits a home run. The batter runs bases and gets home, but the outfield team notice that he didn't step on third base.

The coaches instruct the pitcher to go back to mound and throw to his third baseman, who tags the base. The umpire then calls the runner out. As a result, the home run doesn't count and this is the third out.

While the other team is celebrating, the team in the outfield leaves the field. The coaches of the team that just hit the home run start questioning what happened. After the umpire explains to them why the batter is out, the coaches start verbally disputing the decision.

After a long discussion with both team coaches, the umpire decides to change his call and allows the home run to count. This is in spite of one of the outfield coaches openly admitting that the player missed third base.

Is there any basis in the rules for the call being changed, or was the original call correct?

Even if the original call was incorrect, is the umpire permitted to change it at this stage once the outfield team has left the field?

Should umpires in little league be making decisions based on input from coaches from either or both teams?

  • I've added the rules tag, since there is probably a "can the umpire" element to this question (as opposed to the "should the umpire" as covered by the officiating tag). I will attempt to edit the question, but please note that paragraphing makes the question easier to read. This can avoid unnecessary downvoting / close voting and make it more likely to receive an answer. – studro Jun 13 '17 at 4:35
  • I've removed what I felt was not relevant to the general question. I don't think it was important what was said, but rather, the fact that the outfield coaches disputed the decision. I've tried to distill what you were getting at into three points at the end. If you feel this edit has changed the question too much, please feel free to roll it back. – studro Jun 13 '17 at 4:46
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    VTC, too broad. You are asking three separate questions which arise from a scenario, related though they may be. At the very least, the third question must be split off. The others would fare better if also split up. – Nij Jun 13 '17 at 5:14
  • I agree this may be too broad, but I disagree with the separation you have proposed. I think the second and third questions are the two most closely related. They go to the core issue, which is the decision making process in little league baseball. The first question, if any, should be split off, as it is a simple rules question based on whether a player who fails to touch third should be tagged out. – studro Jun 13 '17 at 5:40
  • I think we need more information from the original questioner, as to whether they want information on the decision making process (how late can a decision be changed and should coaches have input into a changed decision in little league), or the correctness of the out decision itself. – studro Jun 13 '17 at 5:41
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Traditionally, an umpire only changes his calls after discussion with the rest of the umpiring crew. Technically, the umpire that made the call is the only one that can overturn it.

So yes, an Umpire is allowed to change a call like this, however it is highly unusual to do so after coaches protest. If the kid did truly miss the bag, there is really no reason to call him safe, and changing a call like this is unprofessional.

However, depending on the ages of the kids, and the opinion of the pitching teams coach, this may not be so egregious. If the kids are young, and the coach of the defense agrees that they want to let the kid have the homerun, than this call might not be so bad. If the kids are older, and this is the championship in a competitive league, or the defense's coach was not in agreement, this is poor umpiring.

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I would say, technically, the umpire can do so, but there is usually a more formal process vs off the cuff, which seems to have been followed here.

So, this brings up the larger issue of what we mean by "little league." A relatively informal kids' T-ball league? The earliest iterations of pitched baseball, meant mostly to get kids interested and having fun? More competitive leagues that are looking to qualify for the eventual World Series?

It makes a difference, both in how they want rules applied for that league, and the amount of experience and formal structure there is to the umpires organizations that officiate the games.

If it's the lower levels, do you really want to crush a kids' spirit because he got so excited about hitting his first-ever home run, a game-winner, that he missed third base? Do you want the other team to "earn" their win not through play on the field, but a technicality? As the kids get more experience, we expect them to understand the rules, follow them more tightly, and to understand the consequences, but if we're talking about 7 or 8 year-olds, it would be a horrible thing to be that pedantic about the rules and to look to win games on that kind of a technicality at that level. It sends all the wrong messages about sports to kids, IMO.

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