The Ole Ball Game

Batter hit on hand not holding bat

by Chris
(Lincoln, NE USA)

Chris asked: In a U14 baseball game tonight, my batter jumped back to avoid a pitch and released his grip of the bat with his left hand, while holding the bat with his right hand.

The ball hit the back of his left hand (the one that was no longer in contact with the bat), and the home plate ump sent him to first.

However, the base ump overruled and said that the pitch should be called a strike, since he moved his hand and interfered with the catcher's ability to catch the ball.

Neither ump claimed that the batter tried to swing at the pitch. What should the call have been? Thanks.

Rick answered: Chris, thank you for your question!

The rules covering the situation you described are: Rule 8 Base Running Art 1... A batter becomes a runner with the right to score by advancing to first, second, third and home bases in the order listed when :d - A pitched ball hits his person, clothing, provided he does not strike at the ball.

Rule 10-1 Umpiring General Art 4...Any umpires decision which involves judgement, such as whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out, is final. But if there is reasonable doubt about some decision being in conflict with the rules, the coach or captain may ask that the correct ruling be made. The umpire making the decision may ask another umpire for information before making a final decision. No umpire shall criticize or interfere with another umpire's decision unless asked by the one making it.

The only way the field umpire could get involved in this call is if the home plate umpire asked him for help.

You didn't mention any base runner in this situation, so there would be no reason to say the batter interfered with the catcher's ability to catch the ball, as whether he caught the pitch or not had no bearing on any part of the play.

Neither umpire said anything about an attempted swing, thus Rule 8 Art 1 puts the batter on first base.

This sounds like a ruling which could have created quite a bit of discussion. It was all tied up in the base umpire over ruling the plate umpire's call, without being asked.

Yours in baseball,


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