The Ole Ball Game

What is the umpire's ruling?

by Sandy
(Flanders, NJ)

Sandy asked: Bases loaded 2 out and 3&2 on the batter.


The pitcher is in the stretch position. The runner on 3rd breaks for home before a pitch is thrown.

The pitcher seeing the runner break, legally steps back off the rubber and throws the ball to home.

The batter, unaware of the runner breaking, or the pitcher having stepped off the rubber,thinks it's a regular pitch. He hits the ball out of the park.

What is the umpire's ruling?


Rick answered: Sandy, thank you for your question.

The defensive players involved in this play both did the correct thing, the offensive team created their own problem.

While given the situation of a bases loaded, 2 out, 3-2 count on the batter scenario, the runner from third base is indeed running on this play; but not like the runners behind him are.

The runner from third needs to start a little later and go a little wider, mostly for his own physical protection; but also to keep the pitcher from doing what this pitcher did.

If the runner does this, the pitcher would never have had the opportunity to step back off the rubber, thus instantly becoming an infielder. The ball he throws is no longer a pitch, it is a ball thrown in an attempt to put out a runner.

Whether the pitch would have been as good to hit as the subsequent throw, no one will ever know.

The runner was lucky indeed that the throw was not pulled down the third base line and hit him.

The rule covering what happened next is Section 3, 7-3 Batting Infractions- A Batter Shall Not:

Art 5...Interfere with the catcher's fielding or throwing by:

a. Leaning over home plate.

b. Stepping out of the batter's box.

c. Making any other movement which hinders actions at home plate or the catcher's attempt to play on a runner, or

d. Failure to make a reasonable effort to vacate a congested area when there is a throw to home plate and there is time for the batter to move away.

Penalty: When there are 2 outs, the batter is out.

The batter actually violated both c&d.

I would be interested to know what the actual umpire's call on this play was at the time.

Yours in baseball,

Rick



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