The Ole Ball Game

What's the umps call on a batter hit by a thrown ball going to first.

by Myron Struck
(Springfield, VA, USA)

First Base Running Lane

First Base Running Lane

Myron asked: In a sacrifice situation with a runner on first, the right-handed batter bunts toward first, and the catcher fields the ball and hits the hand of the ex-batter, in fair territory moving toward the running lane.


Is the batter out for interference, as the ump called it. On the play, the catcher retrieved the ball and threw out the baserunner trying to get to third. Double play?


Rick answered: Myron, thank you for your question.

As you look at the image above, it shows the running lane on the first base line.

This lane starts halfway to first base, and a runner is required to run within that lane if there is a play being made on him at first base.

At this link on my site baseball rules first base running lane, there is an explanation of the rule and why it is in existence.

It also provides guidelines for what is considered "being inside the lane."

In the situation you have described, the initial determining factor for interference or not is whether the runner had reached the beginning of the running lane or not.

If the batter-runner had yet to reach the start of the lane when he was hit with the throw, it would not be interference.

If he had reached the halfway point; but was outside the lane, it would be interference.

If the umpire ruled it interference, the ball becomes dead and the runner returns to the original base. The out at third base would not occur.

If interference were not called, then the runner would be out on third, batter-runner safe at first.

Everything hinges on where the batter-runner was at the time he was hit.

For it to be interference, the batter-runner would have to have reached the running lane; but be running outside of it when hit with the throw.

If hit before he reached the running lane, then no interference and the out at third would count, except that the umpire called interference and the ball became dead. There can be no double play with that call.

I would guess that your scenario became quite exciting before it was over.

Yours in baseball,

Rick

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