The New (Un)Official Rules of Baseball

gender neutral baseball rules comprehensive baseball rules

Women are in baseball. They play it, coach it, report on it, umpire it, own teams, and build stadiums. The have for a while now. And the Official Rules of Baseball don’t reflect that. The rules are extremely gendered, using exclusively male pronouns. It’s time the Official Rules reflect that. So I rewrote them.  I replaced any instance of gender with a term that did not use gender.  Gender neutral baseball rules.  It really was that simple.

That’s not to say it didn’t take a long time.  I didn’t want to simply replace “him” with “they” – not because “they” isn’t a valid singular pronoun, it totally is, but because some of the rules involve multiple players/coaches/managers and clarity of language is important.

Here, let me anticipate some of your questions and comments:

Why did you do this?

Because it needed doing.  The real question is why hasn’t Major League Baseball?  In 2006, they put in a piddly little excuse of an addendum at the end of the rules saying that when they use “he” “him” and “his”, they actually also mean “she” “her” and “hers” when the person is female.  So they do recognize that it’s a problem.  But instead of actually correcting the language, they’re just gonna do…that. Aside from being lazy and lame, how can that not be seen as intentional erasure of women from baseball?

How long did it take?

About a week, but working on it off and on.  I’d say about 25 hours in total.  Major League Baseball has had over a century to do it.

You made a mistake in your Gender Neutral Baseball Rules!  What are you going to do about it?

Yeah, it’s absolutely possible I made a mistake, even likely.  Like I said, I, an amateur writer, did this in the span of hours strung out.  MLB will have months and a bevy of writers, lawyers, and editors at their disposal to do a more thorough job.  But, like, a ton of the work is already done for them, so…

You didn’t include the diagrams and some notations and-

Yeah.  So?

How am I supposed to use these rules to play baseball?

Lack of diagrams aside, that’s not the point of this set of rules.  The point is that MLB can and should do better.  This document is to show that the Official Rules of Baseball can reflect the Actual Participants of Baseball.

So you think you’re a rules expert now, huh?

Absolutely not.  I read every bit of this several times, but for some reason the only one I absolutely retain (other than the basics) is that players can’t have glass buttons on their uniforms.  I’m hardly an authority on baseball or gender studies for that matter.  What I am is mad that something so easily corrected as gendered pronouns and last names is used to subtly make certain people feel unwelcome in a sport I love.

You changed some of the names, too.  Why?

I looked up the most common last names for the different ethnic backgrounds of Major League players and used those to populate the examples instead of the incredibly white-sounding names currently used.  I retained the A-B-C-D-ness of them for clarity, which is why it’s not THE most popular names.  I also replaced instances of male first names with more diverse last names.  And somehow the Official Baseball Rules still made sense.  Imagine that.

You’ve ruined baseball!

That’s not a question. And no, I haven’t.  Women in baseball will save it.  Depending on who you ask, women make up anywhere from 27-40% of the fanbase (reported numbers vary wildly) and boy howdy is that not reflected on the field.  That’s shortsighted and dumb.

Women in baseball will change the game!

Aside from the fact that women already play baseball, umpire baseball, coach baseball, report on baseball, build and restore ballparks, and own baseball teams….well, so did electric lights.  So did exercise and nutrition plans.  So did a hundred other things.  Your premise is sexist and dumb.  And still not a question. Next question.

Do you hate baseball or something?

Next VALID question.

What are you really trying to do here?

Smash the white patriarchy that is Major League Baseball from the top down.  Make it more likely to see a woman on the pitcher’s mound at Dodger Stadium not because she’s throwing out a ceremonial pitch, but because she’s about to throw the strike that brings the World Series title back to Los Angeles.  Make it so that no one ever has to write a story so heartbreaking as Ian Desmond’s experience with racially motivated economic disparity and outright hatred for the color of his skin.

I want to make baseball live up to its insistence that it is indeed America’s Pastime.

You can download the rules here.  Enjoy.

Comprehensive Baseball Rules

To read more about Gender Equality in Baseball from Tavi, check out Women Belong at Home (and First and Second and Third).

gender neutral baseball rules comprehensive baseball rules


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