Can a umpire award a base for obstruction?
by Rick Ortiz
Rick Ortiz asked: Batter runner hits long fly ball to right field, as he rounds third he hits the third baseman and goes down. Runner gets up, looks home, but goes back to third as ball comes back into the infield. Both Umps have obstruction after talking, third base coach wants home and it is given. Right or wrong?
Rick answered: Rick, thank you for your question.
Obstruction by definition: Rule 2-22- Obstruction is an act ( intentional or unintentional, as well as physical or verbal) by a fielder, any member of the defensive team or it's personnel that hinders a runner or changes the pattern of play.
When obstruction occurs, the ball becomes dead at the end of playing action and the umpire has the authority to determine which base or bases shall be awarded the runners according to the rule violated.
Rule 8-3, Baserunning Awards, Article 2: When a runner is obstructed, while advancing or returning to a base, the umpire shall award the obstructed runner and each other runner affected by the obstruction the bases they would have reached, in his opinion, had there been no obstruction.
If the runner achieves the base he was attemmpting to acquire, then the obstruction is ignored.
The obstructed runner is awarded a minimum of one base beyond his position on base when the obstruction occured. If any preceding runner is forced to advance by the awarding of a base or bases to an obstructed runner, the umpire shall award this preceding runner the necessary base or bases.
Malicious contact supercedes obstruction. Runner(s) will be awarded appropriate base(s) per umpire judgement. When obstruction occurs, the umpire gives a delayed dead ball signal and calls "obstruction". If an award is to be made, the ball becomes dead when time is taken to make the award.
In the situation you described, the umpires must have decided that the runner would have been able to reach home safely had he not been obstructed by the fielder, thus awarding him home plate.
Without seeing the action of the play, it sounds like they got together and made the correct call.
Yours in baseball,