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Baseball’s Top Brass Holds Meeting on NL Balk Rule

May 7, 1963 - Baseball’s top brass moved today to reduce the number of balks called against National League pitchers. Commissioner Ford Frick (pictured); Warren Giles, president of the National League; and Joe Cronin, president of the American League, agreed to eliminate a stipulation that a pitcher must stop “one second” after his stretch motion. Pitchers will still be required to stop following their stretch with men on base, but not necessarily for a full second. Frick said umpires in both leagues had been told of the change, effective immediately. Through Monday, 96 balks had been called in the National League and 8 in the American League. The major league record for a season had been 76. Frick said today: “There can be absolutely no difference between the leagues in this matter.” He pointed out that uniformity was particularly important with regard to World Series and All-Star games. Until 1949, the balk rule stipulated only a pause in the motion of stretching. Then the major leagues changed it to “one full second.” For reasons that are not entirely clear, National League umpires this year had insisted on a strict interpretation of the rule.


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