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A Balk is a penalty charged against the pitcher for deviating from the legal pitching motion while a runner is on base to put out (pick off) a base runner who has taken a lead from his base.

The 45-degree step for a left-handed pitcher in an attempt to make a pick-off to 1st base is a myth!
Here is the rule:
8.05 If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when—

(a) The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery;

Rule 8.05(a) Comment: If a left-handed or right-handed pitcher swings his free foot past the back edge of the pitcher’s rubber, he is required to pitch to the batter except to throw to second base on a pick-off play.

(b) The pitcher, while touching his plate, feints a throw to first base and fails to complete the throw;

(c) The pitcher, while touching his plate, fails to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base;

Rule 8.05(c) Comment: Requires the pitcher, while touching his plate, to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base. If a pitcher turns or spins off of his free foot without actually stepping or if he turns his body and throws before stepping, it is a balk.

A pitcher is to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base but does not require him to throw (except to first base only) because he steps. It is possible, with runners on first and third, for the pitcher to step toward third and not throw, merely to bluff the runner back to third; then seeing the runner on first start for second, turn and step toward and throw to first base. This is legal. However, if, with runners on first and third, the pitcher, while in contact with the rubber, steps toward third and then immediately and in practically the same motion "wheels" and throws to first base, it is obviously an attempt to deceive the runner at first base, and in such a move it is practically impossible to step directly toward first base before the throw to first base, and such a move shall be called a balk. Of course, if the pitcher steps off the rubber and then makes such a move, it is not a balk. end rule)
The word Directly:  Is an umpire's judgment call and there shall be no degree, angle, or limitation as to what is and isn't directly, other than the umpires judgment.


Intent of the Balk. The balk is meant to prevent the pitcher from illegally deceiving the base runner. The pitcher will occasionally try to catch a runner off guard in order to prevent possibilities such as stealing a base or getting too much of a lead off a base.

Penalty. In all cases, the penalty for a balk is a single base awarded to all runners (but not the batter). This penalty is always charged to the pitcher.

Quick list . Below is a quick list of 19 ways to balk. Of course, for a more complete explanation get the Baseball Field Guide, available at Amazon and other booksellers.

1. Interrupt his pitching motion, perhaps the most common way to balk.

2. Fail to come to a complete stop during the set position.

3. Fail to step toward and ahead of a throw.

4. Fail to have both hands on the ball once he’s in the set position.

5. Pitch while his pivot foot is not touching the rubber.

6. Pitch while his head is not facing the batter.

7. Fake a throw to first base. Once he makes a motion to throw to first base he must complete it.

8. Fake or complete a throw to an unoccupied base.

9. Make a pitching motion without completing the pitch.

10. Make a quick pitch. A pitcher must not pitch before the batter is ready.

11. Fake a pitch.

12. Drop the ball while on the rubber.

13. Disengage the rubber improperly.

14. Delay of game. This is a judgment call by the umpire, if he believes a pitcher is intentionally delaying the game.

15. Come to the set position twice.

16. Change from one pitching position to the other without disengaging the rubber.

17. Pitch using a tampered ball, unless the team at bat chooses to accept the play that ensued.

Balks caused by other players:

18. Catcher or other player tries to block a runner attempting to score from third base by stealing home, or during a squeeze play.

19. Catcher outside the catcher’s box during an intentional walk. The catcher must be in his box at the beginning of a pitch-out.


Contact  Northwest Independent Baseball League Duane Wangenheim 866.858.1174

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