Baseball Rules in Black and White

Throughout the history of baseball, coaches and umpires have had a love-hate relationship- smiles and handshakes during pregame meetings turn to scorn and contempt soon after the first pitch.

As a player who later coached, I was sure I had a solid understanding of the rules of the game and had little time for umpires. But after becoming an umpire, I quickly realized that I knew the basic rules of the game and not much else!

One explanation why I only knew the basic rules of the game is that I was way too busy playing, coaching and having fun to ever take the significant time needed to study a baseball rule book. Besides after playing the game so long, I surely had learned all the rules. Right? Wrong!

by Jim Bettencourt, NCOA Sacramento Umpire

Now after twenty years as an umpire, it has become apparent that baseball rule books are complex, they are not fun and for many reasons. For starters, consider the perplexing rule book language and the extra small font. Another problem, one infraction can have several important related rulings scattered (hidden) throughout the book. It is also nearly impossible to quickly locate and process one ruling, that alone multiple related rulings. These are the realities of the baseball rule book and why many players and coaches choose to play the game and leave the exhausting rule book to the umpires.

The National High School Baseball Coaches Association and Baseball Rules in Black and White’s goal is to build a long overdue bridge, built with improved communication, mutual respect and enhanced rule knowledge. This is the beginning step in our effort to create a bridge between Umpires and Coaches that can expand the respect of a handshake throughout every game.  

The National High School Baseball Coaches Association (NHSBCA) was officially formed in July 1991 to provide services and recognition for baseball coaches and to help promote and represent high school baseball across this country. The current membership has coaches from every state sponsoring high school baseball.

In addition to publishing coaching instructional publications on our website, the NHSBCA selects and honor 8 Regional and a National Players of the Year, 8 All-Region and All-America teams, 8 Regional Assistant, 8 Head Coaches of the Year, as well as a National Coach of the Year. It also selects and honors 8 Regional Fields and a National Field of the Year.

The NHSBCA ranks teams nationally in Baseball America during the prep season and recognizes coaches for the number of victories achieved and for years of coaching service. We also have an NHSBCA Coaches Hall of Fame, honoring those coaches across the country who have served their profession and our association to the highest degree.

A national convention, featuring outstanding clinics, Awards/Hall of Fame dinner, trade show, Fellowship of Christian Athletes breakfast, is conducted the weekend following Thanksgiving. The 2018 NHSBCA Convention was held in St. Louis, MO – November, 29-December 2 at the Hilton at the Ballpark.

Baseball Rules in Black and White is a series of books that uses a very unique format that has allowed myself and hundreds of other umpires to gain an improved understanding of the most frequently called rules of baseball at specific levels of play. Cardinal Publishing Group released the 2019 NCAA & NFHS Baseball Rules in Black and White editions this past January.

Baseball Rules in Black and White created a National High School Baseball Coaches page on our website that is absolutely free of charge, that is an optimum way to learn or refresh baseball rule knowledge. This page contains videos of infractions and provides the NFHS Baseball Rules in Black and White rule content that applies to the infraction. In addition, these articles contain helpful umpire perspectives and suggestions regarding many of the more complicated rulings and safety concerns. From this umpires’ perspective and the National High School Coaches Association this is truly a win-win scenario.