3RD STRIKE CALL
Scott asked: WHEN AN UMPIRE CALLS A BATTER OUT ON 3 STRIKES, BUT THE BALL IS DROPPED, NO RUNNER ON 1ST.
IS HE STILL ALLOWED TO RUN TO 1ST EVEN IF THE UMPIRE CALLS HIM OUT?
Rick answered: Scott, thank you for your question!
The rule covering this situation is Rule 7-3 Sec 4 Batter is out when:
Art 1b: A third strike is not caught, provided a runner occupies first base and there are less than two outs;
1. If there are two outs or if no runner occupies first base, the batter is not out unless the third strike is caught. He is entitled to try and reach first base before being tagged out, or thrown out.
Whether the umpire called the batter out or not, he can attempt to run to first base. The umpire in the case you described made an improper call, one which can be challenged as soon as the play becomes dead.
If the runner attempts to get to first base, whether thrown or tagged out, or actually makes it to the base, the umpire's "out call" should get reversed on appeal.
While coaches are not allowed to argue balls and strikes, they are able to question the application of a rule, if they feel it has been interpreted incorrectly. In this case, it was an incorrect call.
Once determined to be the incorrect call, and if that call resulted in the batter not attempting to go to first base and walking back to the dugout, the umpire might not reverse his call, as he could then determine that the batter gave up on the play, even though he would have given up due to the umpire's call. Big mess!
Yours in baseball,