Rules

(As of April 2019)

1. Equipment/Field Set-Up:

i) Field equipment (such as softballs, bats, and bases will be provided). Volunteers to help bring this equipment to and from each game are welcome! Please help to make the work of setting up the field before the game, and cleaning up the field after the game a collective activity.

ii) Other player equipment (such as softball gloves) will not be provided by the league. If you have extra gloves or other softball equipment please feel free to contribute them to the league’s equipment share!

iii) Base Distance:  

Softball bases should be placed roughly 15-20m (20-30 paces) apart, or whatever works best given the size of the diamond. Both teams should agree on the placement of the bases.

iv) Bats:

Only aluminum softball bats are permitted for league play. Wooden bats/aluminum baseball bats are not to be used.

v) Head Protection:

Players pitching to their teammates must wear the batting helmet provided. A helmet is also available for hitters if they wish to wear one.

 2. Game Time/Default:

a. Start of Game

Games begin at 8pm and 9:30pm. Please try to arrive 15 minutes early so that we can start our games on time.

b. End of Game

i) Standard Game – Games are a maximum of seven innings in length with a time limit of 1.5 hours (8:00pm – 9:30pm and 9:30pm – 11:00pm).

ii) Short on Players – If a team cannot field a lineup of 7 players by the scheduled start time the team may borrow players from teams playing before/after the game. Alternatively, a team that does not have 7 players may borrow players from the opposing team to complete a defensive line-up (i.e. players waiting to bat for the offensive team, play in the field for the team that is short players). The number one priority is to avoid games being cancelled due to a shortage of players.

iii) Weather: Games that are forced to be cut short due to weather, or are not complete in the 90 minute game time will end with the final score being the score at the end of the previous completed inning. However, if the game ends with the score tied or the home team in the lead without finishing the inning, the score will be taken as it stands at the time the game is called.

iv) Lights: If the lights at your diamond go out after the allocated 90 minute game time (your game is scheduled from 9:30-11pm – and the lights go off at 11:03pm) than the result of the game will be the score at the end of the previous completed inning. However, if the game ends with the score tied or the home team in the lead without finishing the inning, the score will be taken as it stands at the time the game is called.

v) Final Inning – Captains on both teams will agree upon the final inning of the game at any point between 25-15 minutes remaining. If the “last inning” ends quickly and there is still more than 15 minutes left to play, teams will attempt to play an “ultimate final inning” that must be completed in its entirety to count (i.e. Visitors record 3 outs, Home team records 3 outs or wins). No new inning can start within 5 minutes of the scheduled end time of our games.  If the game ends in a tie, the score will revert back to the last inning where one team led after the inning was over. This team will be declared the winner. It is important that all four teams have the opportunity to play complete 1.5 hour games.

 3. Food and Drink:

a. Alcohol & Other Drugs

It is important to note that alcohol consumption during our games can jeopardize the standing of our permit with the City of Toronto. Different people have different relationships with alcohol and other drugs. Please be mindful that your consumption of alcohol during games may have a detrimental effect on others. If you are drinking, please be conscious of how much you are consuming for safety reasons, and please drink outside the field of play. We are not permitted to have alcohol or drugs on the field and in the dugouts as part of our permit.

b. Allergies

Due to allergy concerns, peanut products are also not permitted at our games.

c. Sharing Snacks

If you would like to help contribute to providing refreshments for our games, please contact our social committee!

4. General Rules:

a. Safety

i. Sliding: There is absolutely no sliding. Any base runner that slides is automatically out.

ii. Protective Gear: The catcher must wear the provided mask. The pitcher must wear the provided helmet.

iii. Shoes: Metal cleats are not allowed. No open-toed shoes allowed. Players are encouraged to wear cleats, but any shoe that is not open-toed is acceptable.

iv. Safety Bases: 1st base and home plate will have “safety bases”. As such, there will be a base for the first baseperson and the catcher to touch and a separate base (or line) for the runner to step on (run across).  If the runner steps on the base that is designated for the catcher, the runner is out and the run does not count. If the fielder steps on the base designated for the runner, the runner is safe.

v. Over-running Bases: To prevent collisions, a runner may overrun any of the bases without penalty. If they wish to proceed to the next base, the runner must “tag-up” by going back to the bag and tagging it with their foot before proceeding.

b. Right of Way:

There are rules in place that allow players on offense and defense to safely and effectively make plays without being impeded by opposing players.

i) First priority right of way is given to a player on the fielding team that is making, or is about to make, a play with the ball. A baserunner must avoid running in to a fielding player by going around them in a way that does not interfere with the play. A few common examples:

Example A: A batter hits a pop fly in the infield, and the shortstop is standing under the ball, directly between second and third base, waiting to catch it. A runner going from second to third base must run behind the shortstop on their way to third base because the shortstop is about to make a play on the ball. Running in front of the shortstop could interfere with their ability to make the catch (as would running in to the shortstop and knocking them over!).

Example B: A batter hits a ground ball to the second basefriend. The second basefriend is between first and second awaiting the ball as it rolls to them. Again, the runner must go behind the fielder to avoid interfering with the play. If the baserunner is hit by a batted ball (before it is touched by the defensive team), that baserunner is out.

ii) Runner Interference: A common occurrence where this can go wrong is a runner going between bases has the impression that they must “run along a straight line” and bumps into a fielder just as they are scooping up the ball. In this case the runner is in the wrong and is called out for interference. Safety-wise this makes sense because a fielding player needs to keep their eye on the baseball flying at them (an object that cannot alter its path) rather than also having to monitor the baserunner (who can alter their path between bases).

iii) Second priority right of way goes to a baserunner that is moving between bases. They should be unimpeded by a player on the fielding team that is not making or about to make a play with the ball.

Example A: A runner is on first base. Their teammate hits a ball into deep left field, and the runner on first goes to second while the outfielder is chasing the ball. The fielding team should all be out of the way for the runner to go between first and second. This includes not standing directly on second base, because there is no play about to be made at second base.

If the runner decides to go keep going, and advances towards third base while at the same time while the outfielder is throwing the ball to third base, the second basefriend and shortstop should both be out of the way of the runner, because they are not making a play or about to make a play with the ball.

The third basefriend can occupy the space they need to catch the ball coming in to them. If the throw is on target, that space will be third base. If the throw is off target that space will be near third base. The defensive player has the right to stand on third base as they await the throw. In this case, the runner has the right to safely occupy third base as well. In order to prevent collisions, and because we do not have sliding in our league, the runner can run just to the side of and beyond third base rather than colliding with or stepping on the third baseperson.

iv) Fielder Interference: Common occurrences in our league where this can go wrong is that a defensive player not making a play with the ball stands right on the base they cover, forcing a runner to slow down, change their route, or otherwise miss the opportunity to advance between bases. If you are a fielder, please don’t stand right on the base unless you are about to catch the ball and make a play there.

v) Being Safe vs. Being in the Right: Despite all of this, please keep in mind that for the Field of Dreamers league, being safe is more important than being right. If you come across a situation where you have the right of way but a fellow Dreamer is in the way, try to avoid colliding with or otherwise contacting them in a way that could cause injury. If you believe you were interfered with, bring the situation to the attention of an umpire or team captain and a decision can be made.

c. Fielding Positions

i) Fielding Positions – a full defensive team is made up of four (4) outfielders (right, centre, left, and rover) and five (5) infielders (first base, second base, short stop, third base, and catcher). The pitcher is an offensive player.

ii) Sharing Space: All players should play the position that they are assigned and not enter into the space of another fielder without their consent.

iii) Rover: The rover must be located in the outfield at all times during an at-bat. If the rover enters the infield before the ball is struck the hitter will be awarded either a new pitch or will first base.

iv) Pitcher: The team at bat provides their own pitcher. The safety of all pitchers is a priority in our league!  We recommend the following steps to help minimize the risks with pitching in our leagues:

  • We strongly recommend a minimum pitching distance of roughly 12 paces from home plate
  • We recommend pitchers consider wearing the helmet provided
  • If a hit ball touches the pitcher, the ball is declared dead and the pitch is redone – base runners return to their previous bases and the pitch count is restored.
  • Pitchers should do their best to avoid making contact with a hit ball, but please protect themselves if necessary on a hard-hit ball).

d. Base Running & Recording Outs

i) Commitment Line: There is a commitment line halfway between 3rd base and home plate marked with an extra base. Once the runner has crossed this line, they cannot return to 3rd base. If they do, it is an automatic out. If the ball is caught at home plate by the catcher before the runner reaches their home base, the runner is out.

ii) Force Out: A “force out” will always be in effect between home plate and first base. (i.e. the defensive player only has to touch their base and not tag the runner to achieve an out).

As well, a force out will always be in effect between 3rd base and home plate once the runner has crossed over the commitment line.  All plays at home are force-outs (the runner may not be tagged once he passes the commitment line). The catcher must stand on home plate for plays at home. 

There is no force out at 2nd or 3rd base unless the bases before them are full (e.g runner on 2nd must run to third since runner at 1st base is coming to 2nd) – these players must be tagged.

iii) Tag Out: When a defensive player has the ball in their hand or glove, they can tag any baserunner at any time for an out, if that baserunner is not safely on a base. Note that the defensive player must tag the runner either with the ball itself (if the ball is in their bare hand) or with their glove (if the ball is in their glove). The exception to when a baserunner cannot be tagged for an out is when over-running a base in order to avoid sliding and collisions).

In any situation that is not a force play, the baserunner must be tagged to be out. So, if a runner chooses to run rather than be compelled to run, they must be tagged to record an out.

Example A: A runner is on first, and their teammate hits a ground ball. The runner is compelled to go to second base and does not need to be tagged – a force play at second is an out. Keep in mind, however, if that runner is tagged somewhere between first and second, they are indeed out – as mentioned above, a runner can be tagged out at any time between bases.

Example B: The runner who was on first makes it safely to second and chooses to continue to go to third. While the runner had no choice but to run to second, advancing to third was their decision. In this case, the runner must be tagged out – either between the bases or directly at third base. If there is no tag, the runner is safe.

Example C: The runner is on their way to third but changes their mind and goes back to second base. In this case, a tag is now required to get the runner out. The force play became null and void the moment that runner made it safely to second.

iv) Over-Running Bases: A player may overrun any base. If they overrun first, they must turn away from the field. If they overrun second or third, they must return to the base before proceeding to the next one. If you overrun 1st base into fair play, you can be tagged for an out.

v) Lead Offs: There are no leadoffs for base runners; you must wait until contact with the ball is made first.

vi) Runner hit by a Batted Ball: A base runner who is hit by a batted ball in fair territory is declared out for interference.  This ruling stands even if the base runner is in contact with a base (the base is not a safe haven and is in fair territory).  Any other runners on base at the time interference is called must return to their base.  In addition, the batter is awarded first base, as long as the interfering runner is not the third out of the inning.

EXCEPTIONS:
– A runner is not out if an infielder makes a play on the ball and misplays it prior to the ball hitting the runner.  This includes: intentionally or unintentionally allowing a ball to pass by, a deflection of any kind of an infielder prior to hitting the runner (NOTE: This does not include the pitcher)
– If a fair batted ball touches two runners, only the first runner is out, as the ball is dead as soon as it touches the first runner
– A runner is not out if they are touched by an infield fly, so long as they are in contact with a base

vii. The Infield Fly Rule (IFR): IFR is in effect when there are runners on first and second, or if the bases are loaded with less than two out.  In these situations, if a fair pop-up is hit that, in the pitcher’s judgment is catchable by an infielder with ordinary effort, the batter is out regardless of whether the ball is actually caught in flight. To invoke the rule, the pitcher must loudly announce, “Infield fly” when there is a pop-up in the infield.  If this occurs, the batter will automatically be out, even if the ball is not caught. Runners can attempt to tag up on any caught ball, or attempt to advance if the ball is dropped (although the force place is removed since the batter is out).

NOTES:
–  If the pitcher does not announce “Infield fly,” then play is live with no IFR.
–  IFR does not apply to foul balls.
–  IFR does not apply to line-outs or fly balls in the outfield.

viii) Infielders Need to Stay on the Baseline: All infielders must remain on or behind the baseline until the ball is hit.

e. Hitting

i) Number of Pitches: Every batter can receive a maximum of three (3) pitches. All foul balls, wild pitches, strikes and balls count as one of the three pitches. The only exception is a ball that hits the pitcher (see rule ix). Players who self-identified as “beginners” or “intermediate” when signing up for the league may be offered a 4th pitch if they have not hit the ball into play after 3 pitches and receive a 4th pitch if they choose.

ii) No Bunting: There is no bunting or faking to bunt. However, a ball that is hit with a full swing, but does not go past the pitcher IS a live, playable ball.

iii) Batting Order: Team captains will arrange a batting order prior to the game. There are no rules about the gendered order of batters in this league! Teams might consider batting orders based on alphabetical order or uniform number. Other tips for how to strategically set a batting order will be circulated during the season.

iv) Pinch Runners: If the batter would like a pinch runner to run in their place when they hit the ball, the last player who was recorded out may run in their place.

v) Two Balls: To even the playing field and to improve safety, Field of Dreamers uses two different balls (a soft ball) and (a hard ball). These balls will be marked and the pitcher will let fielders know when each is coming into play. Hitters who can regularly hit the ball into the outfield and/or can pose health risks to others given the strength of their hits will be deemed to received a “soft ball”. All other players will receive a “hard ball”.

f. Scoring

i) End of an Inning: An inning ends when a team incurs either 3 outs or scores 5 runs. A team can only score a maximum of five (5) runs in one inning.

ii) Mercy Rule Exceptions: If a team is trailing by 5 runs or more prior to the start of a new inning, this exception rule comes into effect.

  • If a team trails at the start of an inning by more than 5 runs, the mercy rule in that inning for the trailing team will be the lesser of 8 runs or the number of runs needed for the trailing team to tie the game.
  • The final inning must be declared when there is 25 minutes to 15 minutes remaining in the game (9:05-9:15pm or 10:35-10:45pm). If teams are within 5 runs of each other, there is no mercy for either team in the final inning.
  • If a team is leading by more than 5 runs, that team is capped at a mercy of 5 runs, while the trailing team can score unlimited runs up-to a count equivalent to 5 runs more than the previously leading team.

iii) Is it a Home Run?: There is no home run fence at Trinity Bellwood’s Park. If a ball is struck in the air and exits the field beyond the tree line then it is considered a home run. If the ball rolls into the tree line and/or out of play, the hitter is granted a ground rule double.

g. Fair or Foul:

i) Volunteer Umpire: Fair or foul calls will be made by the volunteer umpire. If there is no volunteer umpire at the game, all fair or foul calls will be made by the pitcher to the best of their ability and with help (if needed from base coaches).

ii) No Presh: Volunteer Umpires or players making officiating calls on the field should not feel pressured or uneasy about getting the call “wrong.” Close plays are called “wrong” in baseball all the time, it’s part of the game, and over the course of the season close safe and out calls tend to cancel each other out! All players should accept the decision of the person responsible for making it without anger or resistance.

iii) 8 Feet Rule: A ‘foul ball’ pop-up behind home plate can only be caught for an out, if it goes higher than 8 feet.  A ball not exceeding this desired height, is considered a ‘strike’.

5. Ground Rules:

Captains should decide prior to the start of the game if they are going to play any ground rules with regards to boundaries. Please make sure that both teams are aware of these rules so there is no confusion.

i) The area behind the backstop, dugouts, home run fences and/or the fences running along first/third base is out of bounds, and the ball is dead when it goes in those areas.  Additionally, for the fenceline that runs along first and third base, when the fence stops, imagine the line if it kept going (parallel to the foul line)…if the ball goes behind this line then it is out of bounds and play is dead.  If the ball goes out of bounds while an active play is going on (i.e. an overthrow to first base) then the baserunner(s) will advance one extra base.

6. Rough Play & Aggressive Behaviour

i) This Rule Supersedes all Others: All players should go out of their way to avoid creating an unsafe play. 

ii) An incident on the field: If there is an incident where a player is injured, harmed, or causes harm in the course play – all play will be stopped. Captains, the parties in question, and the Commissioners will seek to find an on-field resolution prior to resuming play.

iii) Off-field resolutions: Some plays may warrant off-field follow up and this will be determined in conversation with players involved in an incident, team captains, and Commissioners.