Rule 3.05 — The first baseman may wear a leather glove or mitt not more than thirteen inches long from top to bottom and not more than eight inches wide across the palm, measured from the base of the thumb crotch to the outer edge of the mitt. The space between the thumb section and the finger section of the mitt shall not exceed four inches at the top of the mitt and three and one-half inches at the base of the thumb crotch. The mitt shall be constructed so that this space is permanently fixed and cannot be enlarged, extended, widened, or deepened by the use of any materials or process whatsoever. The web of the mitt shall measure not more than five inches from its top to the base of the thumb crotch. The web may be either a lacing, lacing through leather tunnels, or a center piece of leather which may be an extension of the palm connected to the mitt with lacing and constructed so that it will not exceed the above mentioned measurements. The webbing shall not be constructed of wound or wrapped lacing or deepened to make a net type of trap.The glove may be of any weight.
Yeah, blah blah blah. “What,” you may be thinking, “could possibly be interesting about this level of detail about a first baseman’s glove?” Nothing, really, until you see this play, which happened in game 1 of the NLDS this year. Go watch it. Seriously. It’ll only take a minute (literally).(1)
As the announcers explain, if someone else is going to play first base (Javier Baez, in this instance), Anthony Rizzo cannot wear a first baseman’s glove, but has to wear normal infielder’s glove because he’s now not the first baseman.(2) The glove for other infielders is smaller and constructed slightly differently.(3) Note that Baez does not have to wear a first baseman’s glove to play first base, because there’s no advantage to wearing a normal infielder’s glove to play first.
Here’s my question: what’s the penalty for the violation of this rule? If Anthony Rizzo hadn’t changed out his glove, what would have happened? There’s no penalty in rule 3.05 for a violation of this rule. The only penalty set forth in rule 3 at all is around 3.08, which involves the use of helmets. And fielders who aren’t the catcher or pitcher can be positioned anywhere on the field in fair territory, so what’s the problem with having two first basemen, as long as they aren’t interfering with the runner? Most likely, it falls into the blanket authority granted to the umpire under rule 8.01(c)(4) and Maddon didn’t want to take the chance that Hirschbeck would grant some crazy penalty, but what could that penalty be?
I have no idea. This is one of the questions I’m going to ask at umpire school, just to see what the consensus is. I’m sure they’re going to love having a lawyer in class. 🙂
1. As for why Conor Gillaspie was that far off first base in the first place, well, that’s an excellent question. …sigh…
2. What position he’s actually playing is a good question, since he’s standing where the first baseman would stand to defend against bunts, but the general consensus is second base. He’s definitely not playing first base, though, since Baez is.
3. See rule 3.06 for all the gory details.
4. Each umpire has the authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in these rules. AKA, Julia’s Favorite Rule EVER.