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Many people make this rule more complicated than it really is. Little League Rule 3.03 is simply a "re-entry" rule. The only thing to worry about is; when the removed starter can re-enter. He/She may re-enter after HIS or HER substitute has played 6 CONSECUTIVE outs and batted once. That's all there is to it. The starter may re-enter in any spot in the line-up. The starter and sub are linked together. When the starter's sub finishes the play requirement, the starter may re-enter. When the starter re-enters; if he replaces another starter, then he is now a substitute and the second starter may not re-enter until the first starter (who is now a substitute) plays 6 consecutive outs and bats once.

The minimum play time Regulation IV(i) is a completely separate issue and has nothing to do with rule 3.03 for re-entry.
Regulation IV(i):

Every player on a team roster will participate in each game for a minimum of 6 defensive outs and bat at least once. This regulation is not related to rule 3.03. A starter must play 6 outs and bat once, but the outs do not have to be consecutive. Consecutive outs apply to rule 3.03 for a substitute. If a starter returns to a different spot in the order and the player he replaces is someone else's sub; this has no effect on the re-entering player.

Rule 3.03

A player in the starting line-up who has been removed for a substitute may re-enter the game once, in any position in the batting order, provided:

  1. his or her substitute has completed one time at bat and;
  2. has played defensively for a minimum of six(6) CONSECUTIVE outs;
  3. a pitcher may not re-enter the game as a pitcher;
  4. only a player in the starting line-up may re-enter the game;
  5. a starter (S1) re-entering the game as a substitute for another starter (S2) must then fulfill all conditions of a substitute (once at bat and six defensive outs) before starter (S2) can re-enter the game.

The rule is fairly clear, but confusion frequently arises regarding #5 above. A starter may not re-enter until HIS substitute (meaning the player who took his place) plays six consecutive outs and bats once. If the player who took his place was a starter originally, that has no effect. The original starter (S1) for purposes of this rule is now a substitute and must play six consecutive outs and bat once before the other starter (S2) may re-enter. The fact that he (S1) already played some outs is irrelevant. He is now somebody's sub and must meet a sub's criteria. Confusion also arises when a coach re-enters a starter into a different spot in the batting order.

Example: The batting order is:

  1. Adam
  2. Bobby
  3. Charles
  4. David
  5. Eddie
  6. Frank
  7. George
  8. Harry
  9. Irwin

Charles (S1), batting 3rd is replaced by Subby. Subby must bat in the 3rd position. Charles (S1) may not re-enter until Subby plays six consecutive outs and bats once. After that occurs the manager may re-enter Charles (S1) in the 5th spot for Eddie (S2). Charles (S1) is now, by definition a substitute. (Eddie's). Eddie (S2) may not re-enter until Charles (S1) plays six more consecutive outs and bats once. Any previous outs that Charles (S1) played do not matter at this point. He is now a substitute. Substitutes must play six consecutive outs, starters do not. David, the 4th batter could be taken out any time after the game begins, but must play six outs and bat once before the game ends, and may not re-enter until his sub (starter or not), plays six consecutive outs.

If rule 3.03 is violated, it creates a protestable situation. The improperly re-entered player is treated the same as an ineligible player and rule 4.19(d) is applied. The improperly re-entered player is removed from the game permanently and an ELIGIBLE sub is put in (not the player that the improperly re-entered player replaced.) The opposing manager may protest the game any time up until the umpires leave the field at the end of the game. If the protest is upheld, the game restarts from the point where the player illegally re-entered.

Submitted by: Jim Booth

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