Carnival Rules 2021

“They can holler at the uniform all they want, but when they holler at the man wearing the uniform, they’re in trouble” (Umpire Joe Brinkman)




Any modifications and additions are designed to respond to the changing needs and expectations of Masters baseball players. These rules will apply for the 2021 series but may be subject to change in future years.

Accepted Rules of baseball as applied by national and state governing bodies will apply in all other circumstances.

1.          MINIMUM AGE. All players shall meet the minimum age requirements as set from year to year (for example, 35 and over, 40 and over, 45 and over, 50 and over). To play in any age group, a player is required to turn the minimum age during the year of the Carnival. Date of birth is required on Entry Forms and proof of age may be requested. For 2021, the age groups offered are 35 and over, 45 and over and 50 and over. To facilitate the 50 plus group we have applied a minor degree of flexibility (see below and at Rule 15).

35 PLUS. To qualify to play in this division, a person must have turned 35 in the year of competition (IE by 31 December 2021). There will be no exemptions.

45 PLUS. To qualify to play in this division, a person must have turned 45 in the year of competition (IE by 31 December 2021). Exemption of a player may be considered on a case by case basis, with pitching/catching restrictions and only where it is judged that no advantage will be gained. 

50 PLUS. To qualify to play in this division, a person must have turned 50 in the year of competition (IE by 31 December 2021). EXCEPTION: After consideration by organisers on a case by case basis, any 50 Plus team entry may be allowed a maximum of two players who have turned 48 during the year of competition (IE they will be 48 or 49 by 31 December 2021).

2.        GAME TIMES. All games are to be NINETY MINUTES or seven (7) innings duration, with the Ten Run “Mercy” Rule to be invoked after five innings in all games.

The Five Minute/Ten Minute Rule will apply in all preliminary games. The Five Minute Rule will apply in finals.

If at completion of even innings, from the call of "side", there remains more than five minutes before the scheduled completion time, further time of up to ten minutes past the scheduled finish time shall be allowed to complete the new innings. Should this innings not be completed (for example, if the side hitting first bats through for fifteen minutes), then the result reverts back to normal rules (either at even innings or the score at the end of play). If the game is tied at ten minutes past the scheduled finish time but the home side has not yet batted, that innings shall continue until a result is achieved.

If a game remains tied at the completion of even innings, then the "Tie Breaker Rule" shall be played (see Rule 7).

If five minutes or less remains at the completion of even innings, the game shall end.

3.        FINALS. Finals are to be of NINETY MINUTES, or seven innings, with the “Five Minute” Rule and the “Mercy” Rule (after five completed innings).

4.        RUNS. A maximum of seven (7) runs can be scored in any batting innings in any game before the umpire calls an end to that innings. If a team has scored 6 runs in that inning and a batter hits for extras (eg home run) with runners on base, only the first run (the seventh) counts for scoring purposes.

5.        WET WEATHER. In the event of wet weather during preliminary games, umpires will be instructed to make every effort to ensure that legal games (IE 65 minutes) are completed, without compromising player safety. If any preliminary game(s) cannot be completed at the scheduled time, organisers will attempt to reschedule at another time.

Any rescheduled matches must be completed by noon on the final day. If it is not possible to reschedule such matches, a point and a 0-0 draw will be awarded to each affected team. Results count towards final standings. For pitchers, reschedules are deemed played at their original time.

6.        FINALS QUALIFICATIONS. In the event of finals games being WASHED OUT (if a legal game cannot be played prior to series close on Sunday), then the final standings will be declared by those at the end of the preliminary rounds. First, by win percentage. If equal, then by head-to-head record between the teams on even win percentage, but only if head-to-head can be applied (for example, if teams in a particular age group are level but have not played each other, then the other criteria herein will be applied).  If again equal (or if head-to-head cannot be applied), then by the lesser number of runs scored against over the same number of games played (if an uneven number of games has been played by the teams, the lesser average runs against per game will be the determinant). If again equal, then by total percentage (runs FOR divided by the total of runs FOR and AGAINST). If still equal, then by total of runners on base in all completed games played, whether those runners scored or not.

7.        TIE BREAKER. If, in any game, the scores are tied at the completion of time and/or equal innings, extra equal innings will be played to achieve a result, as a TIE BREAKER. The last out of the previous batting innings is to be placed on second base as a runner, with no outs. In the equaliser, the same situation is to be effected and the game played out until a winning result is achieved after equal innings have been played.

Because of the tightness of the scheduling, it is understood that any Tie-Breaker will make a game run over time. In that case, any ensuing game on that ground - or for those teams - will be put back a brief but appropriate amount of time.

8.        PITCHERS. Pitchers in any age grouping are to throw a maximum of FOUR innings per game, including finals. Although it is possible, in a double-header situation, to throw eight innings per day, managers are encouraged to provide common sense “rest time”. For any rescheduled game, refer to Rule 5.

9.        WALKS. Each team is allowed to intentionally walk any opposition hitter once in a game. The total number of intentional walks each team is allowed in any game is one. If, in the plate umpire’s judgment, a team attempts an intentional walk for the second time in a game, he must stop play and have the catcher resume his defensive position behind the plate. A balk will be called and any runners will advance one base. The count on the batter will be re-started at 0-0.

10.        If a pitcher hits four (4) batters in one game, he must be replaced on the mound. No other penalty applies.

11.        RUNNERS. Designated Runners MUST be used for all pitchers and catchers when there are two out. Two additional Courtesy Runners are allowed for any other runners in one innings. Designated and Courtesy Runners can be in the playing line-up, as long as no delay nor disruption is caused to the game. For this purpose, courtesy runners should be the most recent outs or players who are not already in the lineup.

12.        The Designated Hitter is optional for all games.

13.        EXTRA HITTERS. To involve greater numbers of players, a maximum of seven extra hitters can be added to the batting line-up. A side can thereby have up to sixteen players batting, if it wishes. The extra hitters can bat at any position in the lineup (they do not have to be ten through to sixteen). However, all extra hitters must be included on the team sheet prior to the game and all batters must follow in the specified order, with normal procedures and penalties for batting out of order to apply. Substitutions for extra hitters can be made according to usual baseball practices. If an extra hitter is injured during a game, he may be replaced by another player from the bench. If the umpire is satisfied that no other players are available from the bench (for example, if all squad members are already batting), then he will instruct that the players to follow are all lifted one spot in the order. The “blank” rule will not apply in this case and there will be no penalty to the batting team.

Further:  Where a side is playing extra hitters and a starting fielder has to leave the game through injury, the batting side may not have another player available from the bench. If the umpire is satisfied that is the case, then one of the extra hitters will be nominated to go into the field but will remain in his same spot in the order. All players will be moved up a spot to cover the injured player. The "blank" rule will not apply in this case and there will be no penalty to the batting team. See, too, Rule 19, regarding the use of replacement players.

Extra hitters may be interchanged with starting fielders if the team wishes, in which event any former fielder will assume "extra hitter" status. All players must retain their same spot in the batting order.

14.        A minimum of eight players is to take the field for a team to start a game. If there are only eight players available and one is injured after play has commenced, the game will continue, with two “blanks” for the batting side. In this event, the opposition is encouraged but not required to offer fielding substitutes.

15.        Team squads are limited to twenty (20) players, unless special consideration has been given by organisers. Squad names are to be submitted to series organisers prior to a team playing its first game. No interchange or addition is to occur after a team has played its first game. EXCEPTIONS:

a.   Where a club or a group has two teams in a particular age division, there is to be no interchange of playing personnel between the teams unless approved by organisers in exceptional circumstances (for instance, if one of the teams incurred a string of injuries that rendered it impossible to field a side).

b.   Where a club or a group has a team in one age division and a team in another age division (say 45 Plus and 50 Plus), a person who meets the age requirement for both may be nominated as a “floating player” between the two teams. For example, a 50 year-old pitcher may be given permission to also play in his organisation’s 45 Plus team if he is required. In this event, all games played (in either group) will count towards finals qualification (See Rule 18). If he has played the 40% of games (IE two games) then he is eligible to play in either final for which his club or organisation might qualify.  

16.        All players, including Designated Runners and Courtesy Runners, are to appear on team sheets at the commencement of each game to be eligible to play in that game.

17.        REGISTRATION/INSURANCE. It is the responsibility of all players to be registered with Baseball Australia, Baseball Victoria or an interstate equivalent. All players are to have their own BA, BV or equivalent playing insurance. Players who do not hold full current club registration through BA/BV but wish to play in this tournament only must take out the "one-off" coverage offered (see HERE or via the Registration link to the right of our home page, once it is updated for 2021). The Victorian Masters Carnival, organisers and host clubs neither offer nor accept liability for health problems or injury suffered through playing participation in the Carnival.

18.       PRIOR CANCELLATION OF EVENT. Should circumstances necessitate cancellation of the event prior to commencement of play (such as in 2020, after COVID19 was declared a pandemic), team managers, officials, host club(s), governing bodies and other interested parties will be notified immediately, with the decision to be posted to social media outlets and the Carnival website. Participating teams will receive a prompt refund of entry less a modest amount to cover Carnival outlays and administration. That amount will be no more than 10% of each team entry received.

19.       EARLY FINISH TO TOURNAMENT. Should circumstances necessitate an early finish AFTER the tournament has started (for example, through weather, a COVID notification or another urgent issue), then the winner of each age division shall be determined by placings under the Finals Qualification Rule 6 (IE by win percentage, head-to-head, lesser number of runs scored against or by total percentage if the first three criteria cannot be applied).

20.       COVIDSafe PLAN AND TRAVEL EXEMPTIONS. All participants, organisers, officials, volunteers and spectators are bound by COVID restrictions and strategies that apply during the tournament. Team Managers and host personnel have a crucial role to play in helping ensure that both the spirit and the practicality of restrictions are observed – including social distancing, cleanliness, sharing of equipment, interior space limitations, use of sanitiser and attendee recording. While reminders will be provided by way of on-site signage and social media, team managers and players are urged to comply with provisions relating to QR codes or other recording of personnel attending over the course of the tournament.

As we know, the pandemic situation is extremely fluid and can change quickly. Participants travelling from interstate should remain acutely aware of this and should make the appropriate arrangements or adjustments around potential or likely changes to state border restrictions.

21.        FINALS QUALIFICATION. Players must appear in at least 40% of the preliminary games played by their team to be eligible for finals (IE two games, when four or five are played). This modest requirement recognises that not all players are available at all times (especially Friday). Designated Runners and Courtesy Runners are deemed to have played for these purposes. Designated Hitters and Extra Hitters are deemed to have played after they have made one plate appearance. Organisers may vary the eligibility rule in exceptional circumstances (EG where a person had a concurrent commitment to another recognised tournament or event as a player, coach or official).

22.        Players may be replaced and they may re-enter the game, but ONLY in the batting spot of the replacement player (IE their original spot). If it wishes, and provided there is no disruption to the batting order, any team may alternate defensive duties between its squad on an innings by innings basis. For example, Bill Smith might play the first innings in the field and sit on the bench while Fred Jones comes off the bench to replace him in the second innings. Smith (or any other squad player) might then field in the next defensive inning. NOTE: To avoid delays, any defensive replacement should remain on the field for the entire inning (unless injured of course). Like the Extra Hitters Rule, this provision is there to allow the greatest possible involvement of players in any squad. 

23.        All teams are to supply their own equipment. All players while on the field and managing must wear their nominated uniform and colours. Uniforms are to be of a baseball nature, including caps. In the event of an “All Star” or celebrity team, organisers may choose to allow that team to play in a range of baseball or club uniforms consistent with the aforementioned. Notwithstanding the requirement that uniforms are required to be of a baseball nature, each team is allowed ONE player per game to appear in "superhero", "mascot" or "rookie" garb - as long as the attire is not potentially offensive to any person or group. Batters and runners are to wear two-eared helmets at all times. Base coaches are required to wear helmets.

24.        BATS. Only wood and composite bats (subject to the Official Rules of Baseball) may be used by players in any age group. Any player found using a non-compliant bat will be removed from the game immediately. If his team offends again in that game, a 7-0 forfeit will be declared.

25.     COLLISION RULE.  No deliberate or negligent physical contact between players is acceptable (in particular, on plays at the home plate). In any tag or force situation, runners will be required either to slide or to give up on the play. Any conduct that in the umpires’ opinion was either negligent or deliberate in causing physical contact (or attempting any physical contact) will result in a mandatory “out” call and the ejection of the offending player for the rest of that game.

26.        If a team fails to appear with fifteen (15) minutes of the scheduled game time, then a forfeit will be claimed, with match points and a 7-0 score awarded to the team in attendance, provided that it has the eight players required for it to otherwise start the match. If neither side has enough players after the fifteen minute grace period, then there will be no points awarded and no score recorded for either team.

27.        Time wasting tactics will not be tolerated. Umpires will be instructed to enforce this.

28.        Teams are expected to observe reasonable sporting ethics and to present Masters baseball in its best possible light. Whilst not diminishing the competitiveness of the contest, players are encouraged to recognise the efforts of opposition players and are urged to refrain from strategies or behaviour that might belittle, embarrass or endanger their opposition. As always, Team Managers have a crucial role to play in this.

29.        Each team is to supply a scorer and regulation scorebook. Teams are encouraged to supply accredited umpires for the series, but should first contact the Umpires Coordinator prior to the series. A modest payment drawn from player entry is made to tournament umpires.

30.        In the event of a protest, usual baseball procedure will be followed at the time (consulting with the umpire and marking the scorebook). Protests during any scheduled matches will be heard by the series Disputes Committee (a three person panel nominated by Tournament Organisers) immediately – and only – before resumption of the game. Because of the playing disruption caused by protest, Team Managers and Umpires are encouraged to resolve the problem “on field” if at all possible.

31.        Match Cards will be supplied and collected by umpires at the conclusion of games for submission to tournament organisers.

32.        Match Balls will be provided and should be returned to umpires at the conclusion of each game. Tournament organisers may use their discretion to allow balls going foul during finals games (only) to be retained by spectators.

33.        Medals as such will not be presented. The first-placed team in each age grouping will receive a “COVID-era” Perpetual Shield for its safekeeping over the ensuing twelve months. Both the first and second-placed teams in each group will receive an event plaque that can be held permanently.

34.        Each side will play a minimum of four preliminary or qualifying games prior to the finals. Where there is an uneven number of teams in a particular group, five preliminary games may be necessary to ensure that all teams have at least one game on the Sunday. Efforts will be made to consider the scheduling preferences of teams, although time constraints and the need to be fair to all must be considered. All sides will have at least one double-header in their preliminary games.

35.         In the event of a forfeit, the team in attendance (provided that it has the minimum of eight players) will be awarded the win and a 7-0 scoreline for percentage. The forfeiting side will be recorded with a 0-7 loss.

36.        FINALS FORMAT.

Finals Format will depend upon the number of teams entered in particular age groupings from year to year. Standings will be determined under the procedure outlined in (6). As a general rule, the two top teams in any division will play off in the final. However, if an age division is split into two groups but not graded as Division One and Division Two, the top team in each group will go to the final. When final team numbers are known, the procedure for 2020 will be confirmed.

37.        The venue for all matches in 2021 will be Geelong Baseball Centre, Waurn Ponds. Draw, Rules and ground allocations will be provided for Managers and posted on the Carnival website in late March. While consideration will be given to special requests, teams should expect to be drawn for play at any time between opening and close of competition each day.

38.        The normal Rules of Baseball apply in all circumstances other than those mentioned here.

39.        Team Managers are asked to alert players to Tournament Rules prior to the series. Special emphasis should be placed on observance of our COVIDSafe Plan, which is predicated heavily on the common sense behaviour of our mature-aged and fundamentally revered participants. If clarification is required, it should be sought prior to a team playing its first game.