The days of using altered bats in USSSA play are about to come to an end. As a result of rule changes to be implemented beginning in the 2004 USSSA playing season, USSSA is intent on removing all altered bats from USSSA play. Beginning in 2004, if you feel that a player may be using an altered bat in USSSA play, you should report it to the appropriate local or state USSSA director. The Director will have the authority to inspect the bat and to suspend the suspected offending player. The suspected offending player will have a couple of choices: First, he can allow the director to inspect the bat and reach his initial conclusion on whether the bat might be altered or he can keep his bat from inspection and accept a 1 year suspension from USSSA play with no right appeal; Second, if after allowing inspection, the director has decided that the bat might be an altered bat, the suspected offending player may allow the director to send the bat to the USSSA Altered Bat Committee and/or the Manufacturer of the bat for a determination on whether the bat is altered or he can accept a 1 year suspension from USSSA play with no right of appeal. During the time of the examination of the bat by the manufacturer, depending on the sole discretion of the USSSA Altered Bat Committee the USSSA may suspend the suspected offending player pending the decision. If the manufacturer or the Altered Bat Committee of the USSSA determine in their sole discretion that the bat has been altered the Altered Bat Committee may suspend a first time offender for up to 2 years from USSSA play. Such suspension decision may be appealed at the next USSSA annual meeting. For a second time offender, any suspension under this altered bat suspension process will be for life.
The responsibility for knowing whether a bat is altered is that of the user and the owner of the bat. If an individual uses a bat in USSSA play or is the owner of a bat that is brought into a USSSA facility, the suspensions will be imposed with out regard to what the individual knew about the bat being altered. An individual must know that his bat is not an Altered bat, if he brings it into a USSSA facility or uses it in a USSSA game. If not, the individual can be suspended from USSSA activities. The fact that the individual did not know that the bat was altered is not a factor in imposing the suspension. The question is only whether the bat is altered or not.
Altered bats are bats, which have 1. had the surface of the barrel or the taper changed in any way such as by sandpapering or applying a solvent to the surface such as fingernail polish remover or by any other means, 2. had the plug removed/replaced or changed in any way, 3. had the knob removed/replaced or changed in any way, or 4. had anything removed or added to the inside or outside of the bat other that tape at the handle or knob. Cracked, worn (paint/lettering wear is not a problem so long as the bat can be identified and has the appropriate BPF marking, but any wearing of the bat material or identifying paint or BPF wear will be cause for removal) or damaged bats are not altered bats, but will also be removed from play by USSSA directors and umpires. Such cracked, worn or damaged bats will not result in a player suspension, unless the player returns the offending bat into USSSA play after it has been removed or the bat is also altered.
Executive Director USSSA