interferance or no call
by don garvin
(San Diego ,Ca )
First Base Running Lane
Don asked: Right hand batter swings and hits ball down on plate and it then bounces high in air down 1st base line.
Batter and catcher both break down line and about 30 feet up the line the runner in the lane ,the catcher just to the right of the batter runner.
The pitcher is also charging toward the ball and as the ball came down the pitcher hesitated (to avoid contact with the runner according to the coach) and touched but not caught the ball toward the cather who also bobbled the ball ,the runner was safe.
The coach exploded from the dugout and claimed the runner should be ruled out for interfering with the pitcher who he said backed off to avoid collision with the runner.
He claimed that contact is not required and the batter runner has to give ground to the defense even though its his lane.
Safe or out?
Rick answered: Don, thank you for your question.
Rule 5.09 (a) Making an Out
A batter is out when: (11) In running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire's judgement in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead;
except that he may run outside (to the right of) the three foot line on inside ( to the left of) the foul line to avoid a fielder attempting to field a batted ball.
Rule 5.09 (a) (11) Comment: The lines marking the three foot lane are a part of that lane and the batter-runner is required to have both feet within the three-foot lane or on the lines making the lane.
The batter-runner is permitted to exit the three foot lane by means of a step, stride, reach or slide in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching first base.
Based on your description of the action, the pitcher has touched the ground ball in fair territory, the batter-runner is running in the three-foot lane, there should be no actual possibility of contact between the runner and the pitcher.
If the pitcher bobbles the ball leading to the runner being safe, E-1.
Had the batter-runner gone inside, getting a foot inside the foul line, the umpire may have had grounds for some type of interference.
Sounds like the pitcher over reacted to his surroundings, thus muffing the ball.
The highlighted paragraph above states that the runner "may" run outside or inside of to avoid a fielder, it doesn't say must.
This situation becomes a umpire's judgement call, as to whether he felt the runner needed to provide more space for the fielder.
Be interested to hear what the call actually was at the time. Sounds like the discussion may have gotten pretty animated.
Yours in baseball,