Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Player Uniforms and Rules About Unbuttoned Shirts

While many fans took to twitter to comment on HP Umpire Angel Hernandez's strike zone during Tuesday's Venezuela-Nicaragua World Baseball Classic game, we zeroed in Venezuela pitcher José Quijada's unbuttoned shirt in the 7th inning and Hernandez's direction for Quijada to button up his uniform top.

To figure out what this is all about—yes, this is the ever-so-exciting discussion about the player uniform rules—we turn to Official Baseball Rule 3.03 (OBR is used in the WBC) and find that only one provision of the rule concerns buttons: "(h) Glass buttons and polished metal shall not be used on a uniform." NCAA Rule 1-14-e is the only uniform rule in any code to specifically mention buttoning or zipping up a uniform top, but that only pertains to a pitcher wearing a jacket while being a baserunner.

Other than that scenario, it appears HP Umpire Hernandez may have practiced some preventative officiating—addressing a potential safety or rules issue to prevent oddities from occurring later on as a result of the unbuttoned shirt. OBR 5.06(c)(7), for instance, discusses lodged balls or balls that find their way into a player's uniform—if a ball were to go into Quijada's shirt, for instance, the resulting penalty would be a one base award for the batter and all baserunners (if deemed inadvertent). The MLB Umpire Manual further expands OBR 5.06(c)(7) to apply to batted and thrown, in addition to pitched, balls.


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