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Batting Out of Order – Cutting the Confusion

Whether you are managing a T-ball team or a travel 13U team, you need to create a lineup card to establish the batting order.

The younger the team, the more chances there are of adding players to your team’s lineup as they show up to the game.

Confusion occurs when a scorekeeper does not keep accurate track of the batting order, and a player ends up batting out of order. Most youth and travel leagues follow the rule set by the MLB, but many inexperienced managers incorrectly interpret this rule.

Be on the Lookout

For younger teams, batting out of turn tends to be a simple mistake. Coaches sometimes let the other team know, sometimes we don’t and move on.


Once your team reaches 10U or older, you will see shenanigans with intentional batting out of turn, especially during tournaments games. What benefits do they get by cheating? Here’s a situation I faced during a semi-final championship game in a recreation league:

We’ve hit the climax of the game, and the stakes couldn’t be higher with the league championship on the line.

The opposing team, Thundercats, has a prime opportunity to clinch the win with the potential winning run poised at third base. But here’s the rub: they are teetering on the brink with two outs, and up to bat is their number nine hitter. I feel bad for the kid because he has whiffed at every high and low pitches resulting in three strikeouts.

Now, here’s where things take a controversial turn. In a move that reeks of desperation, Thundercats’ manager decides to sidestep the batting order, bypassing their struggling #9 batter in favor of the #1 hitter with the hot bat, hoping that this move will not be noticed by the us.

It’s a gamble that not only skirts the edge of sportsmanship but outright dives into questionable ethics.

This situation is exactly why you need to be aware of the rules for your league/tournament.

The Rule

The MLB rule dealing with batting out of turn is found under rule 6.03(b) in the Official Baseball Rules, which covers “Batting Out of Turn“. The exact wording and nuances of this rule are exacting and detailed but can be interpreted in a confusing way:

(a) A batter shall be called out, on appeal, when he fails to bat in his proper turn, and another batter completes a time at bat in his place. (1) The proper batter may take his place in the batter’s box at any time before the improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and any balls and strikes shall be counted in the proper batter’s time at bat.

(b) When an improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and the defensive team appeals to the umpire before the first pitch to the next batter of either team, or before any play or attempted play, the umpire shall (1) declare the proper batter out; and (2) nullify any advance or score made because of a ball batted by the improper batter or because of the improper batter’s advance to first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batter or otherwise.

NOTE: If a runner advances, while the improper batter is at bat, on a stolen base, balk, wild pitch or passed ball, such advance is legal.

(c) When an improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and a pitch is made to the next batter of either team before an appeal is made, the improper batter thereby becomes the proper batter, and the results of his time at bat become legal.

(d).(1) When the proper batter is called out because he has failed to bat in turn, the next batter shall be the batter whose name follows that of the proper batter thus called out;

(d).(2) When an improper batter becomes a proper batter because no appeal is made before the next pitch, the next batter shall be the batter whose name follows that of such legalized improper batter. The instant an improper batter’s actions are legalized, the batting order picks up with the name following that of the legalized improper batter. The umpire shall not direct the attention of any person to the presence in the batter’s box of an improper batter. This rule is designed to require constant vigilance by the players and managers of both teams. There are two fundamentals to keep in mind: When a player bats out of turn, the proper batter is the player called out. If an improper batter bats and reaches base or is out and no appeal is made before a pitch to the next batter, or before any play or attempted play, that improper batter is considered to have batted in proper turn and establishes the order that is to follow.

Common Confusion

The most common confusion I see with inexperienced managers and coaches is that they read the last part of the Rule d.2 and think that a new lineup is created after one of their player bats out of turn.

This is not true.

The original lineup that was handed to the home plate umpire still stands after committing this mistake.

Rather than rehashing the confusing word salad, let’s use a hypothetical situation to drive the point home.

Cubs vs Padres – Lineup Cards

There are two youth baseball teams in our example and below are their lineups.

Cubs (home team)**

  1. Albert
  2. Briana
  3. Charlie
  4. Deepak
  5. Ellen
  6. Frank
  7. Greg
  8. Howard
  9. Igor

Team manager: Chris

Padres (visiting team)**

  1. Angela
  2. Badal
  3. Chul-min
  4. David
  5. Evan
  6. Fula
  7. Gabriela
  8. Hudson
  9. Ian

Team manager: Peter

** Please remember that the home team always bats in the bottom of an inning.

During the manager’s meeting at the home plate, Chris and Pete each gives one copy of the lineup card to the opposing team manager and one copy to the home plate umpire. This establishes the batting order for the game.


In recreation ball games, kids who show up late are casually added to the end of the lineup and that team manager notifies the opposing manager and the umpire.

In competitive games where only nine players are on the lineup, you must use the appropriate substitution rules to add or remove a player.

Batting Out of Turn – Cubs’ mistake

It’s the bottom of the second inning, and the Cubs are at-bat. With one out and no runners on base, it’s Ellen’s turn (batter #5) to bat, but Frank wolfs down his hotdog lunch and rushes out to the batter’s box. He promptly swings at three high pitches and strikes out. No one from the Padres notices this mistake.

So, who should bat next for the Cubs? Ellen or Greg?

Assuming that Peter (the Padres’ manager) does not realize the mistake, the correct next step for Chris (Cubs’ manager) is to skip Ellen and have Greg go to bat. Then, later in the game when it’s batter #5’s turn again, Ellen should bat.

This is what is meant by ‘establishing the order that is to follow’ after batting out of turn.

From the Padres’ point of view, if Peter does recognize the Cubs’ mistake, he should call ‘time!’ as soon as Frank (from the Cubs) leaves the batter’s box and request a meeting with the home plate umpire to address the Cubs’ mistake.

The end result is that Frank’s out will be counted, and then Frank must bat again for his correct turn. Peter’s strategy is to hopefully end the inning with Frank, who tends to be a weak hitter, striking out twice

Note to GameChanger Scorekeepers
Trying to correct stats for the out-of-turn batter on your phone while game is going on is not easy.

I would just assign Frank’s first at-bat stats to Ellen and correct it after the game is over.

Batting Out of Order – Padres’ mistake

It’s top of the fifth inning and Padres are batting. No outs with a runner on second base. It’s Chul-min’s turn to hit (batter #3) but Evan (batter #5) steps into the batter’s box. First pitch is high. He swings and misses the second pitch (1-1 count).

Scenario 1 – Padres’ manager recognizes the mistake first

At this point, the Padres’ manager realizes the mistake and calls for a time out to remove Evan and insert Chul-min with 1-1 count. The game proceeds without further issues.

Scenario 2 – Cubs’ manager recognizes the mistake first

If the Cubs’ manager notices the mistake first and he has to wait until the Evan either gets on base or out. It’s important to note that Cubs pitcher do not throw his first pitch to the next batter before calling a time out.

League Rules

Most, if not all, youth baseball leagues, including travel and school baseball, accept and utilize the MLB 7.03 rule.

  • Little LeagueFollows the same MLB 6.07 rule
  • Cal Ripken / Babe Ruth League – The same Out-of-Turn rule
  • USSSA BaseballSame rules (PDF) as used by MLB; DH rule in place; please pay special attention to player substitution rules
  • PONY LeagueFollows the same MLB 6.07 rule

Final thought

Adhering to MLB Rule 6.07, which governs batting out of order, not only teaches young players the importance of attention to detail and following structured guidelines but also instills in them a sense of responsibility and teamwork.

By enforcing this rule, coaches and managers underscore the value of each player’s role within the team’s lineup, fostering an environment where strategic thinking and sportsmanship flourish.

Additional Resources