The Ole Ball Game

How many defensive players ( infielders or outfielders are allowed on the base path at one time during the run down of a base runner?

Jackie Robinson in a classic rundown

Jackie Robinson in a classic rundown

Anonymous asked: I recently saw 5 defensive players on the base line involved with a runner in a run down.

As the first base man and the pitcher joined in. do not each of the the other infielders have to clear off the base path after they throw ahead of the runner?

Rick answered: Thank you for your question.

The above image may be the one that you saw and described.

I also saw this image, the first time I had seen such a situation captured on film.

In the image above, the base runner is Jackie Robinson, one of the greatest baseball players of all time. His unique athletic talents were a determining factor in how many defensive players came to be a part of this rundown.

The rule governing the rundown situation is this: The defensive players are not allowed to impede the offensive runner's progress in the base path, without the ball in their possession.

What you are looking at in the image above is an enormous amount of respect for the runner, Jackie Robinson.

The norm for a rundown such as you see, involves two, at the maximum three defensive players to work through it. Rundowns

Defensive players are taught to run as hard as they can at the base runner, making him turn his back to them and run hard toward the next base.

If the base runner does not do that, then the defensive player will be able to run him down and tag him out.

If the base runner turns and runs full speed away from the defensive player with the ball, the defensive player is taught to throw the ball to the defensive player on the other end.

That player is moving towards the base runner, when he calls for the ball to be thrown to him.

Since the runner is going at full speed, and the receiving player is moving towards him when the ball is thrown, he catches it and makes the tag for the out before the runner is able to stop, and change direction.

Defensive players are under no restrictions as to the number of players that can be involved in a rundown, they could have all 9 players there if needed.

The common wisdom is, the more defensive players that are involved, the more throws created, the better the opportunity for the offensive runner to be safe, at one end or the other.

Defensive players cannot impede the base runner's path, unless they are in possession of the baseball. That is the rule they are governed by. Coaches teach defenders to make the throw, then move out of the baseline and go to the other end of the line, in the event that they need to come back the other direction.

Jackie Robinson had a technique, as well as a great athletic talent, to be able to command the kind of respect for his abilities, that you see in the above image.

Yours in baseball,


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