Altered Bats Used At Alarming Rate

By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball
(From Sept. 2, 2011 Edition)
 
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The hammer has finally been dropped on cheating.
 
Due to numerous reports of non-wood bats being tampered with to make them higher performing tools in California high school baseball during the 2011 season, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Baseball Rules Committee is cracking down.
 
Effective with the 2012 high school baseball season, more responsibility will fall on the shoulders of coaches to verify bats used by their players are rules-compliant.
 
Prior to the start of games, each head coach must now tell the umpire in-chief that all of his team’s equipment is in accordance with NFHS rules.
 
Such rules include “compliant bats that are unaltered from the manufacturer’s original design and production and helmets that are free of cracks and damage.”
 
Coaches can still ask umpires at the pre-game conference to confirm that equipment is compliant.
 
However, umpires no longer will be required to perform pre-game equipment checks.
 
At its summer meeting in Indianapolis, the committee also took steps to define a new tamper-evident protocol for non-wood bats.
All changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.
 
According to Elliot Hopkins, NFHS assistant director and liaison to the Baseball Rules Committee, if an umpire discovers the hitter using an illegal bat prior to entering the batter’s box, the bat will be marked so it can’t be used again, and the batter will simply get a legal bat.
 
However, if the hitter steps in the batter’s box, and the umpire discovers that he is using an illegal bat, then the bat will be marked and the batter will be ruled out. If the hitter advances to a base or bases, and the umpire discovers the illegal bat, the bat will be marked, batter ruled out and any runners will return to their original bases prior to the at-bat.
 
On a first offense, the head coach will be restricted to the bench/dugout if umpires discover an illegal bat. On a second offense, the head coach will be ejected. For subsequent violations, the acting head coach will be tossed. There may be further penalties given to coaches and players with state associations depending on what their sportsmanship rules are.
 
“The committee is placing a great importance on increased coach responsibility,” said Hopkins. “It is one of our top priorities.”
 
(The Rest Of The Story… includes a response from the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, how coaches and umpires plan to deal with the liability issue and how bat surgeons are breaking federal law by tampering with registered trademark bats. In addition, Collegiate Baseball explains the tough regulations that have been put in place for recreational softball which includes a 3-year suspension for hitters who use doctored bats and possible assault charges. To read this story in its entirety, please see the Sept. 2, 2011 issue of Collegiate Baseball. You can purchase a single copy for $3, which includes postage, or purchase a year’s subscription for $28 by calling 520-623-4530 M-F from 8-4 MST.)