The Ole Ball Game

Double play on dropped ball.

by louie
(lexington ky)

Louie asked: Runner on first no outs.

Batter hits line shot to first.

Runner leaves base, but returns and stands on first.

The line shot was dropped.

First baseman picks up ball, tags runner standing on first and then steps on first. Double play, or is runner entitled to remain on first?

Rick answered: Louie, thank you for your question.

Rule 5.06 Running The Bases
(a) Occupying The Base

(1) A runner acquires the right to an unoccupied base when he touches it before he is put out, or forced to vacate it for another runner legally entitled to that base.

(2) If a runner is forced to advance by reason of the batter becoming a runner and two runners are touching a base to which the following runner is forced, the following runner is entitled to the base and the preceding runner shall be out when tagged, or when a fielder possesses the ball and touches the base to which such preceding runner is forced.

In the situation you have described, as soon as the batter hit the ball into fair territory, he immediately became entitled to possession of first base, the runner on first must vacate.

Once the line drive was dropped, the only option the runner on first had was to try to get to second. If he does so, it forces the first baseman to make a throw, whereby he might throw the ball away, or the infielder covering second might drop the ball.

Tough spot for the runner, as you are taught to freeze on line drives, the ball was right there at first, so he would naturally start back to the bag, thus stuck in time.

First baseman did the right thing, tagged the runner before he could force a throw, then stepped on the bag to complete the double play.

Yours in baseball,


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