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CATCHER’S MASKS, JEWELRY PART OF 2023 NFHS BASEBALL RULES CHANGES

Rules • July 11, 2022


INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA (July 11, 2022) — 
Catcher’s mask eye shields and jewelry for high school baseball players and coaches were among the rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Baseball Rules Committee. The rules were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors for the 2023 season.

Rule 1-5-4 added language clarifying that eye shields attached to a catcher’s mask after manufacture are prohibited. Eye shields that are attached at the time of manufacture must be clear.

The change to Rule 1-5-12 allows players and coaches to wear jewelry after the Baseball Rules Committee voted to remove its prohibition from the rules. Previously, only medical and religious medals were permitted by rule. While most jewelry will be permitted, the Baseball Rules Committee noted that the current rules still state that any jewelry worn that poses harm or injury to a player or opponent should be removed.

“The game of baseball has evolved and players have demonstrated that wearing a bracelet or a necklace does not impede their ability to play or increase any risk to themselves or their opponents,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Baseball Rules Committee.

The committee also added a definition for a lodged ball, which is when a ball remains on the playing field, but becomes wedged, stuck, lost or unreachable causing it to stop abruptly or not fall or roll immediately. The ball is declared a dead ball. The definition was necessary to differentiate when a ball becomes lodged in a fielder’s glove, in which the ball remains in play.

Rule 6 was adjusted to only use the pivot foot to determine whether a pitcher is delivering a pitch from the wind-up or set position. Previously, the position of both feet on the pitcher’s plate determined either the wind-up or set positions, prohibiting a “hybrid” position where the pivot foot was in the wind-up position and the non-pivot foot was in the set position.

The Rules Committee received tremendous input from coaches and umpires that allowing the ‘hybrid’ would assist players to succeed in pitching,” Hopkins said. “Anytime we can write a rule to improve playability or increase participation, then it is prudent that we do so for the sake of the participants.”

In addition, the official signals for baseball were updated to include eight pre-pitch situations and eight signals during play and results.

A complete listing of the baseball rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Baseball.”

According to the most recent NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, baseball is the fourth-most popular sport for boys with 482,740 student-athletes in 16,170 high schools nationwide. The survey also indicated that 1,284 girls across the country play high school baseball.