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Discussion: hitting the pitcher

Posted Discussion
Jan. 25, 2008
Men's 50
3114 posts
hitting the pitcher
It's hard to think that SSUSA or anyone who knows senior ball
could adopt such a rule as:
“Any batted ball striking the pitcher (except his arms, while not in a protective or
self-defense position) before hitting the ground shall be a dead ball out.”
It means that the now infamous ball Don Clatterbaugh struck that snapped the ulna
of my right arm would not necessarily have been a dead ball out and subject to interpretation as to my defensive posture
and I'm sure grounds for argument by either side.

It also means that a dead ball out will deter a batter from not hitting the middle on purpose and that's poppycock.
Not me, it won't.

Ejecting the batter from the game with the second offense bringing suspension from the tournament would be a deterrent.
The batted softball coming at the pitcher 95 mph has more mass(lethality)
and a shorter distance to cover(faster) than the fast ball of a major league pitcher
and there they have the pitcher ejected for such intentional or reckless behavior.

That's the way the interpretation should go.
With all decisions final by the on field umpire and no appeal.
Then you'd be surprised how many guys would be able to make the adjustment.
That's a deterrent.

I'd offer help to the umpires in 2 ways:
a ball hit at excessive speed up the middle would constitute recklessness on the part of the batter for not being in control of a "deadly" weapon.
second, if the umpire can see, feel or hear intent on the part of the batter
or his team at any given shot at/through the middle then that player
would be ejected from the game subject to suspension from the tournament
for a second offense.
The umpire could use a warning at any time
before or during a game to either or both sides
as he sees fit with the next offender "doing time".

That's what a meaningful deterrent sounds and looks like SSUSA.
Jan. 25, 2008
Men's 65
4549 posts
I think the rule should not be limited to the Major + divisions.
All divisions have a pitcher, why the discrimination here?
Make the rule across the board.
Jan. 25, 2008
62 posts
So the pitcher can try to get hit by the ball to earn his defense an out?
Jan. 25, 2008
Men's 65
3146 posts
I haven't hit a pitcher it quite a while, maybe the 70's when our team put a bounty on the pitcher. Let's forget that. In the last two years I have come close twice, both times I was playing class D and we were out of hrs. I was a little off my mark caused by the juking and antics of the Utrip pitcher.
For the past 4 or 5 years I have kept my average high by hitting near the pitcher, just out of his reach.
Joe, I wouldn't have been as kind as you were in Vegas after being hit. I'll leave it at that.
In Vegas and Ft Meyers I didn't hit up the middle at all. I was very confident with my swing so I felt like I didn't need that single. To me the 325' fences in Ft. Meyers seemed like 285'. The balls and bats combination was perfect. In 2008 I foresee many inning ending outs.
With the new rule, if we are out of hrs I will hit up the middle, (maybe I shouldn't advertise this) hopefully my control will be on and I won't hit it within reach of the pitcher.
What doesn't make sense to me is when some of these Major Plus players drop down to play Major why won't the same rule apply there??
One positive thing on the new rule, it sure has caused quite a stir here.
Thanks USSSA for providing this board.
Jan. 25, 2008
Men's 50
68 posts
Einstein, you're right, I think this rule will cause a lot of arguments. Just imagine a batted ball being hit straight back at the pitcher in less than half a second. Now, where were his arms when he got hit? Were they out to the side or di he have them tucked in to his sides? Was one up and the other down? Did he make an attempt to block it?
One team will say yes, his arms were in a defensive position and the other will say no, he didn't have them in a defensive position.
It sounds like the ball is pretty much a line drive straight at the pitcher. If, in fact, that's true, Jetboy, why the hell would anybody stand there and take a shot like that just to get a defensive out? I've played first and third and been nailed by a lot of balls over the years and every one of them hurt. The pitcher is a lot closer than first or third so I would imagine it would hurt a hell of a lot more then what I've experciened. I can't imagine anyone "taking one for the team" in something like this.
Jan. 25, 2008
Men's 65
601 posts
Jetboy - as it is written it does not appear the pitcher can throw out a body part to take a hit and gain a DBO. The umps are going to have to take many things into consideration before issuing a DBO. The pitchers actions should be 1st on the list. Becoming a goalie should not be rewarded.

I think as it is written the rule is designed to eliminate head hunting. I know I'll be one of the 1st to protect my pitcher and many guys feel the same. In the heat of the game -contest - mano on mano - and physological games that happen some can get over zealous to the point of danger to another individual. It's part of our make up and ingrained in us from an early age in this sport.

As Joe has brought up alot depends on the intent which is a hard thing to judge unless the trash talking has started.

I think the rule is stated simply and simply stated to stop hitting AT the pitcher, not up the middle. And as simple as they can keep it will probably work the best. The more complex you make it the more the "lawyers" of the teams will come out of the wood work seeking an edge on the ump.

Should it be at all levels - absolutely. You're basically saying that someone of lesser ability to protect himself is fair game. Whether it's someone that gets lucky and smashes the hardest ball he's ever hit up the middle or an out and out masher that rakes the ball every time at bat the lower division pitchers are almost more vunerable than the guys that have gotten more used to the consistantly harder hit ball.
Jan. 25, 2008
Men's 65
4549 posts
Mitch, I doubt Sky King aka Jetboy , pitches. or he would know why.
I just do not believe the rule should be for one select divisio,. Period
And einstein has a valid idea and rationale.\imo
Jan. 25, 2008
18 posts
Have played alot of ball over the years at many different levels and positions. What a GREAT GAME!
My take is:
Agree with Einstein. Hitting the pitcher should be an out and if intentional, automatic ejection. Should also apply for all age groups and skill levels.
The solution to Major plus teams having no one to play or National tournaments without parity is really quite simple. Northern Calif. ranks its 105 teams covering all age groups from 1 to 105 based on games won and lost and strength of opponent. The best team in Northern Calif, is of course a 50 major plus team and the worst is a 75 AA team. Major plus/major teams usually play down an age group, ie. 60 major plus plays 55 major or AAA and so on for all age groups. It takes a bit of thinking to rank the teams but it insures equal and plentiful competition. Actually SSUSA already seeds teams. What needs to change is the present concept of rigid age groups at the national level. Bring in some 40/45 teams for the 50 Major Plus teams to play. The rest of the teams and age groups will fall into ranking quite easily.
Jan. 25, 2008
Men's 60
246 posts
Gentlemen, perhaps down here in the south we are more hospitable to our fellow players, but, never in 5.5 years have I seen a middle war in senior ball. I played 24 tournaments last year and saw none. I've probably played 100 tournaments the last 5.5 years and have never seen more than two balls in a game hit at the pitcher and always then with an apology.

Is this really a problem out west? I know it is in flat belly ball in the south but by the time you are 50 some maturity should have set in!

Am I missing something here? Seems if two consecutive batters hit my pitcher than we call time, meet at the plate, see what the problem is, and then if we can not discuss it and get over it, it will be my 14 against your 14 winner take all. That should settle the hitting wars better DAMN quick!
Jan. 25, 2008
Men's 50
3114 posts
Hey Audie,
Suffice to say the hit their middle/protect your pitcher phenomenon
has been a constant since I joined Senior ball 10 years ago.
One of the finest softball player human beings that's ever played the game
told me, the first time their team doesn't respect our pitcher
we start lighting their pitcher up.
I saw it all over last year, in every age group of major plus
both in my games and games I watched.
I don't see any way to play competitively without it being present.
Even if their guy hits a rocket through the box and apologizes,
it's GAME ON.
Jan. 25, 2008
Men's 50
3114 posts
I can't tell you how many times Don Clatterbaugh has called me to ask how I'm doing
and let me know how sorry he is for what happened.
He's a man in every respect of the word.
I know I wasn't expecting him to hit the ball anywhere near me
it being a seeding game and that we're good friends and ex teammates from Kellys.
I had even turned my body sideways to watch him hit the ball
to my left but as I said the wind blew the ball back outside
and the next thing I knew the ball was coming at my face.
I contend if I'd been playing my position as I normally do and should have
I either glove that ball for an out or get my glove on the ball and keep it off my body.
So, Don who doesn't need me to remind everyone that he's the best hitter
in Senior Ball, gets a pass.
I forgive him and he's still my friend.
Jan. 25, 2008
59 posts
All of us who have played this game for a long time know that hitting the middle has always been a part of the game. The difference is that with today's equipment and rules it has become necessary for home run hitters, guys that always used to swing for the fences to seek another avenue to get on base. Unfortunately, that is usually going up the middle.
When we first started playing this game (for me, 1967) you NEVER heard the statement "the middle is open". The guys that hit the middle in those days were taking a chance on making an out. Now,even at our "advanced" ages, our ego's still come out when the first ball rockets through the box.
I totally agree with Einstein on this one. If this rule is to be enforced, it has to be by the umpires, and it has to be like Joe says. The umpire is going to have to be in control and he is going to have to have the power to do what Joe is suggesting. ( boy, I wouldn't want to be an umpire) . And I also agree that it needs to be a universal rule. For all divisions.
Jan. 26, 2008
Men's 65
839 posts

I could not resist any longer to respond to some of these comments. Of course, the following is in my humble opinion. I agree that the rules should be the same for EVERY division. The issue here is that all of you Major+ players who think that you are above all of the other divisions and get a rule that you do not like, you whine. Maybe you are and maybe you are not? On an open field, I do not think so. :-) In previous discussions, you had no problem with Major+ teams playing 7 innings and no time limit, or unlimited homers. It was also said in that Major+ discussion, that the other divisions should adhere to the time limits. What makes you so special? I know this will get alot of comments, but I have thick skin, so go right ahead. I am only saying what every player is thinking, that does not play Major+ softball. Either we all get unlimited homers and no time limit, or none fo us get this, but do not ask for your division only. With this pitching rule for your division in force, you should know how everyone else feels about being singled out. We all play softball, some for recreation, some play softball more seriously, and others play home run derby. LOL! From now on, whatever rules are discussed or passed, let's include EVERYONE! By doing this, it may eventually bring together a decrease in the amonut of divisions in senior softball. We have 5 divisions and it could be combined to 3. That is another discussion. Have a nice weekend!
Jan. 26, 2008
Men's 60
56 posts
Joe I remember a few times last season when you pitched for Us (ODB). When we had problems with players hitting the middle. The umpires will have to take control and not waffle for this to be affective. Or else the teams will try to police this themselves. I play major in Nor Cal and this is a problem. You can hear teams saying to hit the middle to make the other team stop. I play first and third and don't even want to know how fast the ball gets to the pitcher. It should be at all levals.
Jan. 26, 2008
62 posts
"Sky King aka Jetboy" What's that about?

But to answer the question, no I'm not a pitcher. Never wanted to be one, either.
Jan. 26, 2008
Men's 65
4549 posts
Jetboy, just a jab on the Jet part no harm intend... Was a 60's tv program.
Be glad your not on the mound.
Jan. 26, 2008
Men's 50
3114 posts
In fact, I don't favor having a penalty for going up the middle at all.
I just wanted to point out that if SSUSA seriously wanted to deter
batters from going at or through the pitcher
that there's a stronger way to do it.

To increase the protection pitchers receive in major plus
there should be 15 foot arc allowed, 10 foot behind the rubber extension of the box
widening as it deepens to create more angle throwing a pitch.
Both of these would allow a pitcher enough distance and time
to move to a better/safer defensive position if he chooses and if he doesn't,
it's on him.

GONG (think a loud bell has just been struck)
The seeding games, at any tournament could be used to try out
any new rules, or equipment, sought or proposed
that both SSUSA and the players would want to look at
to give more participation and real experience in judging if something was good or not.
We'd all be sharing and working stuff out importantly, together.
Voting could even be done right there, transparently and with everyone involved
before double elimination even started.
Jan. 29, 2008
6 posts
I'm sorry to see any pitcher hit with the ball. I"ve pitched and I've hit pitchers. I think anyone that intentionally comes out with a headhunter attitude should get a reality check. We are 50 year old guys playing a game we love for the fun and competition. What's happening here? This is my 5th year playing 50 major plus and i don't think i can remember anyone intentionally hitting anyone. I'm kinda like Bruce on this thing...I hit the middle but never at the pitcher. If I hit a pitcher it's an accident. I have a real issue with all of these new rules directed at Major +. Einstein getting hit was a fluke. The guy is an excellent defensive player and probably relaxed a little too much and didn't expect Don to hit him and it doesn't sound like he meant to hit him either. Do we really have a problem with constant intentional attacks on pitchers? Common guys...You limit the home runs and you know immediately that the middle is going to get action. What's next we get to use 25 core balls and wooden bats and if anyone gets hurt you get a suspension.
Jan. 30, 2008
79 posts
OK, I have seen so good points while reading this thread. My guess is the new pitching rule was made for “Major Plus” because the association removed the unlimited homeruns on this division, making anything over the home run limit an out. Being this division has some of the hardest hitting players I can see were they felt the need to try to protect the pitcher. This is why I think they made the rule for this division only.

My thoughts - If they truly felt the need to protect the pitcher in Major Plus, they would not have changed the home rule, it’s as simple as that. Is there anything else that would add some safety to the pitcher that could be used in all divisions? Yes – Two Things

#1. Add an additional infielder that must be played behind the pitcher near second base. Nobody hits at an infielder on purpose. But we don’t think twice about shooting one by the pitcher because we all know it’s the quickest and easiest way to get a hit.

#2. Change the “out” to read “a single” in the new home run rule.

These two simple rule changes would make the game much safer in all the divisions. The last thing I ever want to do is hurt someone while playing softball. I also will do my best to not make an out when my team is out of homeruns.
Jan. 30, 2008
Men's 65
438 posts
Why not use a pitching screen...DBO. I know it could cause some interference on a ball going home from the OF but how often does that happen?
Jan. 30, 2008
Men's 65
4549 posts
One could say that with the additional player behind the pitcher, that the pitcher would now serve as a screen for him...
Instead of a single for additional HR's, a walk would be better, in as it would not allow a runner to advance without being forced.. Which I believe was\is the original intent.
also not penalizing him for a good hit.
Jan. 30, 2008
Men's 65
4549 posts
SS and\or 2nd might also hit it if back behind 2nd base and threw a nice direct shot to the catcher.
Jan. 30, 2008
6 posts
I am for protecting the pitcher, but not for changing the game. The middle is part of the field and should not be restricted from batted balls. My position is that the senior organizations, in this age of hot bats, should instead make it mandatory for a pitcher to wear a helmet w/mask. Yes, hits to other parts of the body can also cause serious damage, but the primary critical area is the head/face. I am puzzled why none of the senior organizations has taken the bull by the horns and gone with the mandatory helmet and mask rule. In essence I strongly believe the Field of Dreams popular quote "build it and they will come" applies here. For example, if the SS-USA were to lead the way, I believe SPA and the other national sotball organizations that hold senior tournaments will eventually follow suit. One last point is that I realize many pitchers will balk at being forced to wear a helmet w/mask, but if it is a mandatory requirement, they too will adjust over time and hopefully soon realize that a 50+ person who loves the game is better served by wearing adequate protection when performing his higher risk job.
Feb. 2, 2008
Gary Heifner
248 posts
Sorry you got hit---BUT!!!!! With the 6' extended box and when you throw a 10' to 12' arc, you have time to back up an additional 6' to 8', it should give all plenty of time and distance to defend themselves. If you can't,try catcher. Another choice would be to allow a 5th infielder for all age groups. The 11th player must be positioned in the infield and allows for another team member to play. Very few will hit the middle with a defender behind the pitcher.
Most of those who play against me know that I pull to avoid hitting the middle. As a result, many opponents play their shortstop in a strong pull position. I have often been given little choice but to hit the middle when I see a 60+' gap between the SS and 2nd baseman.
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