#25 - Dead Ball Appeals - Why I Hate The USA Softball Rulebook


Michael Leavitt 160The 2019 USA Softball Umpire Exam is now available... LINK.


DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU ARE ALSO EASILY FRUSTRATED... But, proceed cautiously if you really want the answer to #25 on the 2019 USA Softball Umpire Exam...

Here is question #25 from the exam. It typifies my ongoing frustrations with our current USA Softball Official Rules of Softball book when it comes to finding answers. This seems like a straight forward test question...

25) With 1 out and R1 on 3B and R2 on 1B, B4 hits a double scoring R1 and advancing R2 to 3B. After the ball has been returned to the infield and time is called, F7 makes a verbal appeal to the base umpire that R2 missed 2B while advancing to 3B. The correct ruling is:

This should be easy to head to RULES SUPPLEMENT #1 APPEALS and find the answer. The test question raises the following issues...

1) Can an outfielder (F7) make a dead ball appeal?

2) What is the procedure for a dead ball appeal?

But then the 4 offered answers raise more questions...

a. This is a proper dead ball appeal, the base umpire should rule on whether R2 missed 2B.

If outfielders can make dead ball appeals, then this could be true.

b. Since F7 no longer has the ball, this is an improper appeal and the base umpire should not rule on the play.

Does the fielder have to have possession of the ball on a dead ball appeal? Does that have anything to do with the ruling?

c. This is an improper deal ball appeal, only a coach or infielder may make a dead ball appeal.

Is it true that only a coach or an infielder can make the appeal? Certainly, the rule book should clear this up.

d. Since the ball is dead there is no longer an opportunity to appeal the last play.

I have a hard time believing this answer choice.


Heading to the rulebook, I found the following in RS#1 APPEALS....

C. Dead. The dead ball appeal may be made:

1) Once all runners have completed their advancement and time has been called. Runners must be given ample opportunity, in the umpire's judgment, to complete their base running responsibilities. Any infielder, with or without the ball, may make a verbal appeal on a runner missing a base or leaving a base too soon on a caught fly ball. The pitcher and the catcher are considered infielders for the appeal process, the appropriate umpire should then make a decision on the play.

This verbiage appears to be well written and clears up several issues...

1) Answer D is clearly wrong because the last play can be appealed when the ball is either live or dead.

2) F7 is an outfielder, and they are NOT allowed to rule on dead ball appeals so answer B is wrong. Unfortunately, it doesn't say what the umpire should do... Maybe we are to put our hands over our ears and say repeatedly "La-la-la-la-la" until F7 realizes that we cannot accept an appeal from them. :-) This sarcasm gets credited to my lovely wife Shelly.

3) Since F7 can't make a dead ball appeal, this also rules out answer A because it is NOT a proper dead ball appeal.

4) So, without reading answer C I have already shown that it must be right... But wait!

c. This is an improper deal ball appeal, only a coach or infielder may make a dead ball appeal.

Reading RS#1 you will not find the word "coach" anywhere. According to RS#1, answer C is also incorrect. Hence my disdain for the way our USA Softball Official Rules of Softball book is written. Why can't I just go to the book, find the answer and be done with the topic?

I seem to remember last year that the word coach was added to appeals, but for the life of me I can't remember if it was high school or USA Softball. I just remember that it made so much sense, because coaches were always instigating the appeals anyway. But where was that change made?


One would think that after spending $15 each year for the electronic app for the USA Softball rules, that I could easily search them for key words and phrases... Nope. My only option is to search chapter by chapter. What an absolute joke... The developer is stealing our money and lazy in their development skills. I searched the Rules Supplements and a couple of other chapters, but I quickly gave up on a complete text search.


I decided to search my 2017 USA Softball Case Book Plays. This also frustrates me because we have to pay an extra each $15 per year for access to these casebook plays, and I refuse to do it. Every other year is good enough for me. It only comes in an electronic download and is never published openly, much to our detriment. In fct, start taking a poll amongst your fellow USA Softball umpires by asking, "Do you own a recent version of the USA Softball Casebook Plays?"

I can tell that I am really getting frustrated by this search... I should not have to go all Oak Island treasure hunting to try to find a simple exam question answer.

Researching further, I finally found a 2017 Casebook Play...

PLAY 8.7-16

With no outs, R1 on 2B and R2 on 1B, B3 hits a fly ball to F7, who catches it for an out. Both R1 and R2 advance; however, R1 leaves too soon. The ball is returned to the infield and F1 asks for ‘‘Time’’ to make a dead ball appeal on R1 leaving too soon. F1 then appeals again, (a) by announcing to the umpire that R1 left too soon, (b) by carrying the ball over and touching R1 standing on 3B, or (c) by throwing the ball to F4 who touches 2B.

RULING: In all cases, the ball is dead. The verbal appeal is recognized regardless of the actions taken after the appeal. (8-7I[3])

This is a very similar play, except it is the pitcher (F1) making the appeal. It confirms what I already knew, but at least there is a rule reference... (8-7I[3]).



I. When running or sliding for any base and the runner fails to touch it, provided the defense properly appeals.

3. (Dead Ball Appeal) Once the ball has been returned to the infield and time is called, any coach or infielder with or without possession of the ball, may make a verbal appeal on a runner missing a base or leaving too soon on a caught fly ball. No runner may leave a base during this period as the ball remains dead until the next pitch.

The key to this section is the gray highlighted "coach or" that was added in 2018. It is the key to the question on the test and makes "C" the correct answer. Yes, finding this bit of added information is rewarding, but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. When they added "coach or" to section 8-7, they should have gone to the rules supplements and added the same two words to RS#1. Sure, this was an oversight, but it remains to be seen if the change was finally made to the 2019 rulebook. Here I am studying the 2019 test with a 2018 book because we won't get the new book until the day we finally take this test. None of this makes logical sense, but it is the reality each year with this "Gotcha" type USA Softball Umpire Exam... Man am I grumpy today, or what?!?!?

Make it a great game! Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah