Strange Calls: Runner Hit By Batted Ball

I was umpiring a double header yesterday when a not-so-common event occurred while I was on the field.  In this case, we have runners one first (R1) and second (R2) with one out.  In this scenario, I am the field umpire located at C position, which is in the infield grass, behind the pitchers mound and a couple paces to the third base side (see A, B, and C in graphic for umpire positions).

runner-hit-by-ball

A, B, & C are umpire positions, round circle is ball path

As the ball is hit, the runners see the ball to the ground and are on the go.  The ball is hard it toward the second basemen (2B) moving slightly to his right.  As he makes the approach to make the play, the ball strikes runner R1 on his way to second.  This is runner interference.

The call:  When a runner is struck by the ball before passing the infielders or in an area where a play is able to be played by an infielder, the ball is dead and the runner hit by the batted ball is out.   The batter runner (BR) is awarded first base.  Everything was going good up to this point.

Now comes the tricky part.  The runner going from second to third does not get to advance.  The ball is proclaimed dead, R2 is awarded no bases; he returns to the last base occupied.  My partner made this call, and at the time I wasn’t sure, but I thought the call was correct.  The coach got all up in my partner’s face, eventually earning his warning.

I eventually sold myself on the call by the end of the game, even mentioning it passing to the coach.  Of course he told me to go read the rule book.  In reality, he needs to review it himself.

Win Good Guys.

Outside of this play, there was only one other note from the two games.  I never realized how many people don’t touch bases when running around the diamond.  I had two instances where runs would have been taken off the board (including the 3rd and 4th runs in a grand slam in the top of the last inning to put up the visiting team by 2 runs).  Had the home team appealed it, the visiting team would have only tied the game that inning as there were two outs.  In the long run, it didn’t matter, the visiting team blew the game in the bottom half of the inning, walking in the winnig run.  The other miss happened earlier in the game, and eventually the runner was caught at third on that play.  Remember, always touch every base.

Next game is Thursday at 2pm.  Its tournament time!

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4 Responses to Strange Calls: Runner Hit By Batted Ball

  1. Joey says:

    Interesting post. I had an interference call the other night and came across this post looking for info. Nobody argued with my call, but I second-guessed myself. It was a game of 13-year-olds, so unfortunately I didn’t have the advantage of having another umpire to consult.

    Runners on 1st and 2nd, ball hit to the shortstop, runner from second slows down to interfere with the shortstop making the play. I called both the runner and the batter-runner out and allowed the runner from 1st to advance to 2nd with the thinking that the batter-runner would have forced him there anyway.

    In reviewing MLB rules 7.08(b) and 7.09 (f), which I think are most applicable to this situation, I think I was correct in calling out both the runner and batter-runner, but was incorrect in allowing the runner from 1st to advance to 2nd. I’ve talked to a few other umpires about it since and that seems to be the consensus, but I’m still trying to get a more definitive answer.

    Oh, and good point on missing bases. I had a tournament game last year between Kansas City and St. Louis in which a kid from St. Louis missed 3rd on a home run and it was appealed. That’s a call I hope I never have to make again…

  2. I think you’re right with the 7.08 (b) citation, and I believe you do call the batter runner out at that point. From what I’m reading, it would seem like the runner on first would have to return to the last bag occupied (as it is a dead ball). To support your thoughts, I’ll direct you to MLB Rule Book ( http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2008/official_rules/07_the_runner.pdf ). The transistion from page 67 to 68 in rule 7 (pages 6 and 7 of this pdf) read as follows:

    If the umpire declares the hindrance intentional, the following penalty shall apply: With less than two out, the umpire shall declare both the runner and batter out. With two out, the umpire shall declare the batter out.

    The ball is obviously dead, therefore the runner from first must occupy the last base he occupied before the interference.

    For my situation (batted ball hits the runner) it was definitely 7.08 (f) from the MLB Rule Book. “He is touched by a fair ball in fair territory before the ball has touched or passed an infielder. The ball is dead and no runner may score, nor runners advance, except runners forced to advance.”

    This high school season I’ve seen at least 40 missed bases. There almost one per game. My partner missed the only one of the season that was appealed. He was the home plate umpire responsible for the lead runner at third base, the kid supposedly stepped about 6 inches in front of the bag (the run was the winning run). I was watching the runners at 1st and 2nd, saw nothing. Tough luck I guess. Hopefully I get some better umpires over the next few seasons instead of these first year sub varsity guys.

  3. joe berini says:

    Is the runner on 2nd not being forced to advance?? Seems like that could be interpreted either way. I had the exact situation in a game I was coaching this weekend. The game was stopped for 20 minutes, the tournament director brought in and eventually my player was awarded 3rd.

  4. The runner isn’t forced. The runner hit is out, and runners must return to the last base occupied, except for the batter-runner who is given a single. It would be like a runner being tagged going from first to second. The runner on second wouldn’t have to go on to third anymore and would have to be tagged if the defense was to make a play on him.

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