The Ole Ball Game

Does the play stand?

by James
(Mobile, AL)

James asked: Bases loaded with NO OUTS. Count is full.

Pitch is a curve ball very low and away and the batter check swings but does not appear to have swung at the ball, so the umpire points at first base.

Runners begin to move to the next base when the catcher asks for an appeal.

The umpire on first base says out. So the catcher tags the runner coming home from third then throws to third and the runner from second is tagged out at third...Triple Play.

Does the play stand?

Rick answered: Wow, I bet this one took a while to sort out.

The rule covering your situation is Rule 10- Umpiring Sec 1 General Art 4a...Any umpire's decision which involves judgement, such as whether a hit is fair or foul, 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.

a) The umpire in chief sometimes asks for aid from the base umpire when there is a question as to whether a batter's "half swing" is such as to be called a strike.

As an aid in deciding, the umpire may note whether the swing carried the barrel of the bat past the body of the batter; but the final decision is based on whether the batter actually struck at the ball.

Going through your situation step by step:

  • Batter check swings

  • Home plate umpire signals batter to first base, ball 4

  • Runners start to move up, as they are forced by the umpire declaring the batter to now be a batter/runner

  • CATCHER ASKS FOR APPEAL. The catcher or the coach is able to ask the home plate umpire to seek help from the base umpire. Neither of them can ask the base umpire for his help. Only the home plate umpire can do so.

  • If the base umpire, on the home plate umpire's request says "out", batter is out; but they need to put the base runners back, as their potential "out" situation was created by the umpire's delay in their final call.

  • If the base umpire says out on the catcher's request, he is not authorized to make that call and the home plate umpire's call stands, ball four, batter walks, runners move up.

  • The home plate umpire is under no obligation to grant the catchers or coaches request for help. If he started the batter to first, then decided after he was asked to seek help to do so, and the base umpire said out, he would need to call time and put the runners back to the base they occupied before the pitch.

There is no way he can allow the defensive team to complete a triple play, while the umpires are sorting out their call.

I would be interested in hearing how it played out in real time. For sure there must have been some pretty excited players, coaches and fans with this one.

Yours in baseball,


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Aug 06, 2012
This is what happened
by: Anonymous

Here is how it shook out. The Mgr from the batting team was the former coach at the Univ of Southern Miss, to whom the current stadium is named after. He was also the Manager for the Jackson Generals and is now coaching at a small college in Jackson, MS. Point being, he THOUGHT he has seen it all in baseball until this cool spring night. He approached the mound shaking his head and listened to the umpires explaination and in such disbelief, he turned and went back to his bench without argument or disagreement. Afterwards I asked him what he said and he quoted, "In all my years of baseball, I have never seen such a play, it must be a tragedy. I know I was wronged but didn't have an answer. Honestly, I was dumbfounded."

Rick commented: That is one for the archives.

Any explanation the umpire's provided for why that play should stand would certainly leave you dumbfounded.

I thought surely you would say that they got together and talked it through, and made the right decision. Apparently wasn't going to happen on that night.

Thanks for sharing!

Yours in baseball,


Aug 04, 2012
by: Anonymous

If a triple play was called in this situation, I'd really like to hear the player / coach reaction! What did happen?

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