The Ole Ball Game

Is a base runner out if he starts to the dugout (but does not enter the dugout) and returns to the base

by Michael Booen
(Marshall, NC)

Michael asked:

One out, runners on first, second, & third.

Batter hits ground ball to third base, third baseman fields the ball, steps on third, and throws to catcher who steps on home plate.

Second base runner is out due to force but removing any force play on the third base runner.

Third base runner starts home, stops thinking he is out and heads to the dugout but does not enter.

I yell to catcher to tag the third base runner, as the catcher starts toward the third base runner the unpire says "runner is out, to far out of the base line".

Only the beginning of the tag play had begun. The runner at this point was not avoiding a play.

I know if he is out of the baseline by three feet avoiding a tag, he is out, but can he head to the dugout (but not enter) and return to the base or playing field ?

Rick answered: That is a great question!

The umpire had it right; but he called it for the wrong reason.

There was never going to be a tag play, once the runner from third left the field, headed for the dugout.

The umpire should have called him out for abandoning his efforts to run the bases, a call which is a judgement call by the umpire.

Rule 8-4-2-p: A runner, after reaching first base, who leaves the baseline heading for the dugout or his defensive position believing there is no further play, shall be declared out if the umpire judges the act of the runner to be considered abandoning his efforts to run the bases.

Situations like this one are why we always teach players to finish out the play, let the umpire make the decision on what the call is.

Had the runner from third continued on, stepped on home plate before the catcher realized it had become a tag play, he would have been safe.

Never a good idea for players, at any level, to assume what just happened, or what might happen.

I'll bet that sequence of events created quite a bit of excitement in a hurry. One of those situations which make baseball special.

Yours in baseball,


Comments for Is a base runner out if he starts to the dugout (but does not enter the dugout) and returns to the base

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

May 16, 2019
Walk/K NEW
by: John

3-2 count. My player thought the umpire called strike 3 but in fact he was walked. The player went to the dugout on a confused call. What is the rule?

Mar 26, 2019
Running to first base via the dugout
by: Anonymous

Hi there. Little League Majors division.
Bases loaded. Batter hits a line drive to the second baseman. Not fielded cleanly but the batter thought it was caught so she headed toward the dugout. The 2B made a play at second and then saw that the batter hadn’t run to 1B. At the same time the batter realIzed it and ran to 1B, from the dugout entrance, and beat the second basemen. Ump called her safe because she didn’t go out of the baselines to avoid a tag. Any thoughts? Thanks.

Oct 28, 2015
by: Rick

Anonymous: The umpires should immediately call him out for leaving the baseline. Failing to do that, the defense should have had time to throw the ball to the plate and create the out as a force.

Had one of the runners trailing behind the runner at 3B kept going and scored, he would be out for passing the preceding runner.

In all instances, the third out should have been recorded and the inning should have been over.

Yours in baseball,


Oct 26, 2015
how about this instance
by: Anonymous

How about in this instance bases loaded two outs bottom half of the final inning the batter hit a single to center field the runners never touch the next base.... the runner on third run down the third base line about half way and turned and ran across the field mob the batter who had hit the single along with all the players emptying the dugout, is this runner out for abandonment

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Ask The Baseball Coach.

Spalding, Old Time Bat Display

Louisville Sluggers. 1920's

Copyright© All Rights Reserved.
Copyright© All Rights Reserved.