In the movie "42" why does Jackie Robinson get to take home plate after the pitcher fumbles the ball?
Rundown with Jackie Robinson
Chris asked: What rule of baseball is present here?
Rick answered: Chris, thank you for your question.
I don't recall that portion of the movie; but for a runner on third to be able to be awarded home on a fumbled ball by the pitcher, it would have to be a balk.
Jackie Robinson was well known for his base running skills. The image above is Jackie Robinson, caught in a rundown with the New York Giants, between home and third base.
There are 5 Giant's players involved in this rundown, a true testament for his base running skills. For that many defensive players to get into that action, that rundown lasted a long time.
With those types of skills, pitchers were very conscious that he was just 90 feet away from home plate, and was also a very prolific stealer of home plate.
To off set that, pitchers need to speed up their motion to the plate, as well as keep an eye on him as they start their delivery.
Should the pitcher drop a ball, or lose control of a ball within that delivery, it would be a balk. The runner would be awarded home plate.
Balk: Rule 6.02 (a) Pitcher illegal action, balks
If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when:
1) The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery:
11) The pitcher, while touching his plate, accidentally or intentionally has the ball slip or fall out of his hand or glove.
Penalty: The ball is dead and each runner shall advance one base without liability to be put out.
That would be the most logical reason for his being awarded first base, as described.
Yours in baseball,