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NJ baseball: Electronic devices allowed between high school coaches and catchers in 2024

High school baseball coaches in 2024 will be allowed to use an 'electronic device' to communicate to the catcher what pitches to call, the National Federation of State High School Associations announced Thursday, July 6, 2023.
High school baseball coaches in 2024 will be allowed to use an 'electronic device' to communicate to the catcher what pitches to call, the National Federation of State High School Associations announced Thursday, July 6, 2023.

High school baseball coaches in 2024 will be permitted to use an electronic device from the dugout to instruct their catchers on what pitches to call.

“The use of a one-way communication device between a coach in the dugout and a team’s catcher for the purposes of calling pitches will be permitted in high school baseball beginning in 2024,” the National Federation of State High School Associations announced Thursday.

The NFHS added that, “The new rules prohibit coaches from communicating with any other player besides the catcher on defense and with any player while batting.”

Jon McBurney, who guided Pequannock to the Group 1 state title last month, believes the new rule will be beneficial as the game continues to evolve. Like many coaches, McBurney and his staff call their own pitches and communicate with their catchers in several different ways.

“Communicating directly with our catchers through electronic means is something we would consider implementing if the state athletic association eventually introduces it. We use a number of systems now to call pitches. An electronic system, though, would help speed up the game and prepare the players for the next level,” McBurney said. “Anything that makes the game better and helps the athletes evolve is always welcome.”

The change to rules 1-6-2 and 3-2-5 is among a handful of rules revisions approved by the NFHS Baseball Rules Committee at its June 4-6 meeting in Indianapolis and later approved by the organization’s Board of Directors.

“This change is consistent with the growth of the game and is indicative of a measured and responsible approach to enable technology into our level of competition,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS Director of Sports and Educational Services and liaison to the Baseball Rules Committee.

Hopkins added: “The committee has made these changes to maintain the balance between offense and defense; increase the pace of play; and will responsibly manage technology so there is no advantage gained by schools that have more available resources than some of their contemporaries. Creating a level playing field is paramount to education-based athletics.”

Rule change regarding baseball spectators

A change was also made to Rule 10-2-3h, which governs game management by umpires facing unruly fans. The change “removes spectators’ behavior from the umpire-in-chief’s jurisdiction when deciding to forfeit a contest,” the NFHS said. Poor behavior by spectators, “should be handled by game administration.”

“This change is a complementary rule to support schools’ game management role in addressing unacceptable behavior and will allow the umpire to focus on the action and players on the field,” Hopkins said.

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NJ baseball: Electronic devices allowed for coaches, catchers in 2024 season