Is an infielder allowed to fake that the ball is thrown to him to make a player slide?
by Mike Burnham
Mike asked: I saw a shortstop covering second base.
As the runner approached the base the SS faked with a clenched fist and smacked it into his glove to assimilate the ball was thrown to him. This was during a pony league game.
Rick answered: Mike, thank you for your question!
At the high school level, and I would assume at all levels prior to that, fake tags are not legal.
Professional baseball has no such ruling, so you sometimes see an infielder try to "deke" a runner that a throw is coming.
The high school rule is 2-22 Obstruction and Fake Tag
Art 1...Obstruction is an act ( intentional or unintentional, as well as physical or verbal) by a fielder, any member of the defensive team or it's team personnel that hinders a runner or changes the pattern of play. When obstruction occurs, the ball becomes dead at the end of playing action and the umpire has the authority to determine which base or bases shall be awarded the runners according to the rule violated.
Art 2...A fake tag is an act by a defensive player without the ball that simulates a tag. A fake tag is considered obstruction.
In the situation you described, the umpire's can call "obstruction", the action plays out and then the umpire's decide whether additional bases should be granted to the runner involved.
Should the umpire's collectively not see the fake tag, there would be a no call.
High schools and the rest of youth baseball added this rule a number of years ago, in part as a safety factor for runners.
Yours in baseball,