Table of Tables

   Changing the Rules
   Chronology of Changes to Major League Baseball Official Rules

Table 8: Changes to Rule 8

Table 8. Changes to Rule 8 (The Pitcher)
1858 The pitcher is allowed to make a short run in his delivery. 8.01
1863 The pitcher is not permitted to take even a step in his delivery. Both feet must be on the ground when he releases the ball. 8.01
1867 Pitchers are allowed to take as many steps as they like in their delivery. 8.01
1872 The pitcher is allowed to snap the ball during delivery, but he's restricted to a below-the-waist motion. 8.01
1879 The pitcher is required to face the batter when he pitches. 8.01
1883 Pitching is allowed from anywhere up to shoulder height. 8.01
1884 Almost all restrictions on a pitcher's motion are lifted. He may throw the ball with virtually any motion he chooses, provided that his delivery is not higher than his shoulders and he is facing the batter at the moment of wind-up. He is allowed only one step before delivery. 8.01
1887 . A pitcher must keep one foot on the rear line of the box and may not take more than one step in delivering the ball. Before delivery he must hold the ball in front of him so that it is visible to the umpire. 8.01
1893 The pitcher is required to place his rear foot against the slab. 8.01
1898 . The first official balk rule: a pitcher is compelled to throw to a base if he makes a motion in that direction. 8.05
1899 The balk rule is refined: a pickoff throw may not be faked; a pitcher must complete his motion. 8.05
1908 Pitchers are forbidden to scuff or soil a new ball. 8.02
1920 The abolition of the spitball, with a "grandfather clause": each team is allowed to appoint two spitball pitchers for the 1920 season. 8.02
1921 Another grandfather clause in the spitball rule: eight National League and nine American League pitchers are officially designated as spitball pitchers and allowed to use the spitter for the rest of their careers. 8.02
1925 Pitchers are allowed to use a rosin bag. 8.02E
1939 The pitcher is allowed to have his free foot in front of or behind the rubber, with his pivot foot in front of or on the rubber (but always in contact with it). 8.01
1940 The pitcher is permitted to take two steps-one forward, one backward-as long as his pivot foot remains in contact with the rubber at all times. 8.01
1940 It is a balk if a pitcher throws or fakes a throw to an unoccupied base. 8.02
1955 When a base is occupied, a pitcher must deliver the pitch within twenty seconds of receiving it from the catcher. If he fails to do so, the umpire may call a ball. 8.04
1968 If a pitcher "goes to his mouth" with men on base, a balk is declared. If the bases are empty, a ball is called. 8.02
1974 Umpires may declare illegal pitches without any physical evidence. If they think that the motion of the ball indicates that the pitcher is throwing a spitter or a defaced ball, they may issue a warning and, if it happens a second time, eject a pitcher from the game. 8.02

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JCBA Vol. 20. Rule 8 Changes
Published: December 15, 2001
Copyright © 2001 by the Cosmic Baseball Association