HEY BLUE! What is Little League Baseball’s “POOF” RULE

By Bob Downey, Hanover LL UIC 2014

Little League has several nuances for when a baseball player leaves the bases too early for a steal or lead.  The situation does not apply to Intermediate and above Divisions where leading is allowed.  It only applies for Major Division and lower.  Unlike Softball, the runners are not automatically OUT. I have written another article that covers several situations but this one deserves its own article.  It is fairly unique in the world of baseball and softball rules.

Situation: Bases loaded.

A Runner leaves their base before the pitched ball has reached the Batter, and the Batter either hits the ball in the infield, bunts, or is advancing to first on an uncaught third strike ….

Ruling: Rule 7.13 (c):

when any base runner leaves the base before the pitched ball has reached the batter and the batter bunts, hits a ball within the infield or advances on an uncaught third strike, no run shall be allowed to score. If three runners were on the bases and the batter reaches first base safely, each runner shall advance to the base beyond the one they occupied at the start of the play except the runner who occupied third base, that runner shall be removed from the base without a run being scored.

 NOTE: See exceptions following this rule.

EXCEPTION: If at the conclusion of the play there is an open base, paragraphs (a) and (b) will apply. 

So, if a runner is put OUT, then the other runners are returned to the next nearest base to the one they originally occupied or the base they did occupy.

If no one is put out, all runners are advanced one base EXCEPT the runner on Third.  They are not OUT nor are they allowed to score.  So they are said to have “POOFED into thin air”,  thus the euphemistic name “POOF Rule”.  The inexperienced score keepers love trying to figure how to write this into the scorebook.