In our last episode with Rocky the umpire, he was busy schooling us on the concept of the delayed dead ball following catcher’s interference. We hope the tears have dried from that sad story because Rocky witnessed another rare one that MaxBP will share with you today…a runner who is hit by a batted ball…and is NOT out. What say you, you’ve never seen that…well then, read on…
We’ve all seen a ground ball towards short clip a too-clever-for-his-own-good-trying-to-screen-the-fielder runner; the umpire calls time, Einstein is called out and the batter is placed on first; no big deal!
Yes, that is how it usually goes down but what about this scenario: runner is on third and a chopper is hit down the third base line – the third baseman charges in and towards the line and misses the backhanded attempt on the short hop. The runner who went back to third and is standing on the base is hit squarely in the back by the bounding fair ball. You make the call. Well obviously from our set-up you know that the answer is that the runner is NOT out because he was protected by being on the base right? NO, not right – that’s the trick part of this question. The only time a runner is protected from being called out while standing on a base and being hit by a batted ball is on the infield fly rule, but we digress. No, the runner who was on third and hit is not out because he was behind the fielder who already had a chance to field the ball. The reason a runner is out in the usual scenario is because he denied the fielder the opportunity to get the job done and has thus, “interfered”. Once the ball has passed any infielder (except the pitcher) or touched any infielder (including the pitcher) the runner will not be called out for interference if hit, provided, in Rocky the umpire’s judgment, that another fielder could have made an attempt. Let’s say a ball was hit in the hole and went through the third baseman and hit the runner behind him advancing from second, he would be called out because the shortstop still could have had a play on this. If it hits the pitcher, all bets are off and contact with the runner would be deemed as accidental and not interference (unless it was judged that the runner intentionally interfered) but that’s another conversation.
We’re not sure why we don’t see this scenario more often when the infield is drawn in and the runner’s might be screened by a fielder, but it just doesn’t seem to happen much. In those rare cases, the ball is live and everyone advances at their own risk. The same exact rules are in place if the umpire is hit but with an opposite effect on the game. Since Rocky the umpire out can’t call himself out, the offense gets the benefit of the doubt and the batter is awarded first base but using the same logic as above, if Rocky was hit down the first base line after the first baseman missed the play, the ball would still be live. Runners and fielders beware, know the rules and when in doubt look for Rocky’s call.
Tags: hit by batted ball