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Cal Ripken/ Babe Ruth Rules & Differences

In making the transition in officiating Little League or high school games to Cal Ripken games, you will find several rule differences, some major and some minor.

Some of these rules are universal. Some are different between leagues.

To be clear, the Cal Ripken division consists of T-Ball - Majors. Babe Ruth consists of  the 15U and 18U divisions. In Cal Ripken, these are the field dimensions:
Minors (9/10): 46/60
Majors (11/12): 50/70
15U & 18U: 60/90

In Little League, these are the field dimensions:
Minors (9/10): 46/60
Majors (11/12): 46/60
Intermediate (12/13): 50/70
Juniors & Seniors (13-16): 60/90

All baseballs used in Cal Ripken games must be labeled with with the Cal Ripken stamp. The same applies for Babe Ruth games, with the Babe Ruth stamp. Due to different weights in the balls, they must not be used in the wrong divisions. Meaning, do not allow a Babe Ruth ball into a Cal Ripken game, as it could have a negative effect on a player's arm.

Bat Rules

Cal Ripken
The bat may not exceed 33"in length, and the bat barrel may not exceed 2¼" in diameter.  Only 2¼" barrel non-wood bats marked BPF 1.15 will be allowed.  Wood 2 ¼" barrel bats are allowed.

15U Babe Ruth
The bat may not exceed 34" in length, and the bat barrel may not exceed 2 5/8" in diameter.  All aluminum/alloy barrel bats and all composite handle (only) aluminum/alloy barrels are allowed.  Only composite barrel bats certified and marked BBCOR .50 will be allowed.  Wood barrel bats conforming to the specifications of Official Baseball Rule 1.10 are allowed.

18U Babe Ruth
The bat may not exceed 34" in length and the bat barrel many not exceed 2 5/8" in diameter or be greater than a -3 length to weight ratio.  Only metal/composite bats certified and marked BBCOR .50 are allowed.  Wood barrel bats conforming to the specifications of Official Baseball Rule 1.10 are allowed.

Pitching/ Catching Rules

The throat protector on the catcher's mask is required and is considered part of the catcher's mask. Any PERSON warming up the pitcher, after the game starts, is required to be wearing a mask. The mask is still recommended before the game starts as well.

There is NO rule prohibiting a player from pitching and catching in the same game. Once a player is removed from pitching, they may play anywhere on the field, and vice versa.
There is not Official Cal Ripken Rule that states a pitcher may not return to a game if he/ she has already pitched. However division directors have the ability to create their own policy on that, so know you division rules! If pitchers are allowed to return to pitching after already taken out, these rules are in effect:

- The player has not reached his/ her innings limit for the game or the week.
- The player was not removed from the game due to too many HPB.

- The player has not been substituted out of the game and is re-entering. To be able to pitch again, the player must remain in the line-up, without being substituted. (This applies more in All-Stars, since during REC we bat the line-up.)
Pitchers must be removed on the second coaching visit to the mound. They may return to the game in another inning, as long as it is allowed in the division rules.

There are no pitch count limits, however some coaches may choose to keep their players on a pitch count, especially if they are pitching in multiple leagues.

The pitching week is Monday - Sunday.

More on substitutions

- If you are umpiring a game with subs, this is to help you understand how it works. Players that start the game, and are subbed out, are eligible to re-enter the game. However they may only go back into the same spot that they were taken out of. Say I sub the 6th batter out. I can only put that player back into the 6 spot. If I try to put the player into the line up in another spot, it should not be allowed. Subs cannot re-enter, once they are subbed out.
- There is no special pinch runner rule. The umpire may make exceptions for injured players or catchers running with 2 outs. If the umpire does grant this exception, then the runner should be the last batted out. Again this is up to the discretion of the umpire and not a guarantee.

Mercy Rule

In minors there is a 5-Run Rule per inning and 15 Run Rule applied after completion of 4 innings, or 3 1/2 if the home team is winning.

In majors, there is no inning run rule; there is a 10 Run Rule after the completion of 4 innings, or 3 1/2 if the home team is winning.

In 15U, there is a 10 Run Rule after the completion of 5 innings, or 4 1/2 if the home team is winning.

In 18U, the mercy rule is usually discussed between coaches and players at the start of each game, with the umpires.

Base Running

In minors, players cannot leave the base until the pitch reaches the plate. In baseball, if a runner is caught leaving early, the play is dead and the runner returns to the base.

Players are allowed to slide any way they want to: feet first, head first or sideways.

Runners that are attempting to reach the plate and intentionally and maliciously run into a defensive player at home plate, should be called out and ejected from the game. The keys here are intentional, malicious and home plate. This is a judgement call by the umpire.
If intentional and malicious contact were to happen on the base-path, the player may be ejected at the discretion of the umpire for unsportsmanlike conduct, but should not be called out unless it is obstruction as well. If a player is ejected, but not called out, the last batted out may take the runners place, if the team is batting the lineup.

Dropped Third Strike

The minor division does not use the dropped third rule
The dropped third strike rule is introduced in the major division and used from there on up.


Balks are also introduced in the major division and are used from there on up. Warning rules are up the the directors of each division. Majors and 15U usually give warnings and 18U does not usually give warnings.

Cal Ripken/ Babe Ruth adopts most of the rules of MLB. So the third to first move is banned in CR/ BR. Players that attempt the pickoff move at third base, must throw the ball to third base. Note the difference between stepping off and the pickoff move. This is different in high school ball, where that move is still allowed.

If a player balks, and there is no one on base, the play is dead and to be resumed as if nothing happened. The umpire may inform the pitcher of the infraction, but is not to be counted as an official warning.

Example: If a pitcher does not come to a complete set and runners are on base, it is a balk. If no runners are on base, the pitch would be considered a no-pitch and considered dead, UNLESS THE BATTER GETS HIT OR GETS A HIT, which applies as well if there are runners on base. If a batter gets a hit on a balk, the ball is live, as long as the play is positive for the offence. (This happened to A-Rod awhile back. It's kind of like defensive holding in football. The offence gets a free play.)

Objections to Calls

If a manager disagrees with a call, they may ask the UMPIRE THAT MADE THE CALL, if he/ she can get help from the other umpire. At that point, the umpire that made the call has the right to say yes or no. If the umpire says no, the conversation is over. If the umpire says yes, both umpires shall meet and discuss. Do not yell across the field. That is unprofessional (Exception: Check Swing). After the meeting, the decision should be explained to both managers. Managers are the only ones with the authority to ask for an appeal. Be sure to state if the call stands, because the other umpire didn't see. The call is confirmed, because both umpires saw the same thing. Or the call is reversed, because the other umpire saw the play better, and the umpire that made the call was unsure. (Maybe not those exact words, but along those lines)


Taking into account that each case is different, any umpire may choose to eject at his/ her discretion. Some umpires may choose to issue warnings, while others eject right away. My rule of thumb is that the players are there to learn, and should be given a warning, with the exception of fighting/ things along those lines. Adults are held to a higher standard. Any person ejected is subject to the league disciplinary policy. Any umpire to eject a player, coach or parent is to report their reason, game and date to the umpire chief.

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