The Ole Ball Game

Runner interference call

by JOHN T
(Tamarac,FL)

Runner must avoid fielder attempting to field ball in base path.

Runner must avoid fielder attempting to field ball in base path.

John asked: Runner on second R2. Only 1 out.


Ground ball hit to SS. R2 runs into SS fielding the ball but SS is in the baseline from 2nd to 3rd.

Both the R2 and SS collide on the play. Umpire calls R2 for interfering with the play. Batter-runner out also. Is this correct?


Rick answered: John, thank you for your question.

Rule 2-21-1 Offensive Interference...Art 1...Offensive Interference is an act (physical or verbal)by the team at bat; a. which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play;

Art 2...any runner is out when he:

a) runs more than 3 feet away from a direct line between bases to avoid being tagged or to hinder a fielder while the runner is advancing or returning to a base.

1. This is not an infraction if a fielder attempting to field a batted ball is in the runner's proper path and if the runner runs behind the fielder to avoid interfering with him.

5-1-1...Ball becomes dead immediately when:

c. there is interference by a runner, batter-runner or a retired runner.

Dead Ball and Delayed Dead Ball:

Ball Dead Immediately:

7. Interference by runner or retired runner (including malicious contact)...Interferer is out, also batter-runner if interference prevented a double play at first base.

Interferer is out and so is another runner if interference prevented a double play on the latter.


On the first part of the play, the interference call on the runner is right, if he ran into the fielder while in the base path. The fielder has a right to field the ball, the runner must avoid the fielder, by stopping, going behind him, or going back from where he came.

Assuming he stayed in the base path and ran into the SS, runner would be out at that point.

Should create an immediate dead ball, runner out, batter-runner safe at first.

At this point it becomes somewhat tricky, as there is an umpire's decision to be made, as to whether the interference kept a double play from being completed.

With a runner from second and no force, I don't believe you can assume that the fielder would field the ball, tag the runner from second and make his throw to first in time to complete the double play.

It sounds like they should have called an immediate dead ball, runner out on interference, batter-runner safe at first.

Had the runner been on first, or even runner's on first and second when the interference occurred, you could make a case that the interference kept the defense from completing the double play.

It all becomes an umpire's decision at that point. I don't believe you can presume a double play in that situation as you have no easy force and throw, nor would you be looking for a runner to run into your tag in time for you to complete the backside of the play.

Sounds like this one may have gotten a little heated in the moment.

Yours in baseball,

Rick


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