The Ole Ball Game

In the movie "42" why does Jackie Robinson get to take home plate after the pitcher fumbles the ball?

by Chris
(Las Vegas)

Rundown with Jackie Robinson

Rundown with Jackie Robinson

Chris asked: What rule of baseball is present here?

Rick answered: Chris, thank you for your question.

I don't recall that portion of the movie; but for a runner on third to be able to be awarded home on a fumbled ball by the pitcher, it would have to be a balk.

Jackie Robinson was well known for his base running skills. The image above is Jackie Robinson, caught in a rundown with the New York Giants, between home and third base.

There are 5 Giant's players involved in this rundown, a true testament for his base running skills. For that many defensive players to get into that action, that rundown lasted a long time.

With those types of skills, pitchers were very conscious that he was just 90 feet away from home plate, and was also a very prolific stealer of home plate.

To off set that, pitchers need to speed up their motion to the plate, as well as keep an eye on him as they start their delivery.

Should the pitcher drop a ball, or lose control of a ball within that delivery, it would be a balk. The runner would be awarded home plate.

Balk: Rule 6.02 (a) Pitcher illegal action, balks

If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when:

1) The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery:

11) The pitcher, while touching his plate, accidentally or intentionally has the ball slip or fall out of his hand or glove.

Penalty: The ball is dead and each runner shall advance one base without liability to be put out.

That would be the most logical reason for his being awarded first base, as described.

Yours in baseball,


Comments for In the movie "42" why does Jackie Robinson get to take home plate after the pitcher fumbles the ball?

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Mar 22, 2017

by: Rick, theoleballgame

Bob: The picture doesn't relate to the question, only to point out that Robinson's base running skills were so superior, he commanded a lot of attention, no matter what base he was on.

Once he was just 90' away from home plate, pitchers had much more to worry about.

You referred to the pitcher fumbling the ball. If it was during his windup and delivery, it would create a balk, thus awarding Robinson home plate.

Yours in baseball,


Mar 21, 2017
Jackie Robinson run down
by: Bob P.

I didn't see the movie.

Does the question relate to the posted photo of the run down? If yes, that rules out a balk situation as, on a balk, the baserunner would be awarded home base - no need for a run down.

If the pitcher was one of the players involved in the run down, it may have had nothing to do with him fumbling the ball. There could have been a call of obstruction on the defense if one of the players involved in the run down impeded Robinson.

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