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Answers to Rules Questions


Questions and answers will be posted at my discretion, as I have the opportunity to do so. All answers are purely my personal opinion. Thanks to Jim Evans for compiling his Professional Baseball Rules Index, which is invaluable in providing reasonably correct responses.  Additional answers can be found here.
Current rules references in contrasting color.
See Scoring Runs for run scoring questions.

NOTE: Though I receive questions fairly frequently, due to the volume of questions appearing here I do not post new questions very often. since many may already appear.

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This comes up often, so I thought I'd repeat it.

Runner’s at 2nd and 3rd 1 out.. Line drive to CF.  CF catches the flyball and throws to the plate but the runner is safe.  Runner from 2nd broke on the pitch and never tagged up.  Catcher throws to 2nd and umpire calls him out for not tagging up.  Does the run count?  I thought it did but they said the run did not count because the runner at 2nd failed to tag up.
Greg Williams
Shreveport, LA 3/30/22

It's a time play, technically an appeal @ 2nd. The run counts. See scoring runs above.

A fly ball is hit and the ball is caught in the air. Runner on third advances home, tags the plate proceeds towards the dugout without tagging up. Upon realizing they need to tag up they run back to third base without tagging home again. Are they required to tag home again because the proceeded to the next step or can they just return to the base without tagging home again?

Kyle Benchsky,
Cranston, Rhode Island - 7/18/21

Once the runner crosses the plate, he can't go back to 3rd.

While a catcher (in full gear) was waiting on his pitcher to come out to warm up, he grabbed the ball and waited on the mound, his foot touched the rubber. The opposing team said the catcher now has to be the pitcher. The umpire enforced the rule and told him he had to pitch to one batter. We argued the catcher should not be deemed the pitcher but even if he was, he should only have to throw one pitch not a full at bat. Subsequently, the catcher, not being a pitcher, gave up a home run to take a 1 run lead in the top of the ninth. So that was fun...we walked it off in the end for a 7-6 win. But I have to understand this rule. It seems like a weird rule. Why is it so?
Matthew Ceglie - 7/12/21

This was an incorrect ruling. If another player, other than the current pitcher, throws 1 warm-up pitch from the rubber prior to the inning, he is now the pitcher and depending on the rules used must pitch to at least 1 batter, 3 under pro rules. Standing on the pitcher's plate with the ball does not invoke this rule. I'm not sure of the origin, but no one other than the current pitcher is entitled to warm up from the rubber without becoming the pitcher.

Runners are at 1b and 3b with one out, hitter hits a ball to right center, runner at 3b scores and runner at 1b is thrown out at home trying to score, then they tag hitter/runner out at 2b because he missed first base. Does the run count that scored from 3b? Or is the inning over with no runs scored?
Jim Horner - 7/21/18

The run does not score. In spite of crossing the plate prior to the 3rd out, it's not a time play. The batter-runner did not reach 1st safely, no run.

I have a baseball rules question for you, I am hoping that you can help me out. The batter squares around to bunt. He gets the bat on the ball, but as he squared his left foot is touching both the batter's box line and home plate when he bunts the ball down the third base line. The ball rolls fair.
Should the ump call the batter out?
Frank Morris - 4/29/18

The pro rule book says he is out when he hits a ball with one or both feet entirely outside the batter's box. The HS rules include that plus ...or touching home plate.

Hi Steve, searching for an NFHS rule on using the batting cage during the game.  Our rules interpreter in Va said it is in the book but he can't find it.  Neither can I.  We have one regular umpire who does not allow players on bench to warm up in the batting cage during the game.  All others don't have a problem with it.  I view it the same as a pitcher warming up in the pen myself, but interested to find the rule.
Paul Koch
Ashburn, Va - 9/18/17

I had this come up a few years ago when I stopped use of the batting cage during a game. The coach also could not find it. It's 3-3-1i: ...shall not... be outside the designated dugout (bench) or bullpen area if not a batter, runner, on-deck batter, in the coach's box or one of the nine players on defense. Also 3-3-1a
Steve, Im a veteran coach who really enjoys the rules and takes pride in knowing the rules. Here in South Carolina, we had a situation that I need some clarification. Our local umpires have supposedly checked with the NFHS but I still can't believe this.
Can you courtesy run for the catcher if the player has yet to play catcher in the game. Top 7, coach for opposing team hit for his catcher who just entered the game. He caught the bottom of the 6th for his first playing time. When he came to the plate he was hit for. That hitter reached first. Coach from other team put a CR in for that player. It was allowed. That player has not caught yet in the game. The starting catcher is now playing another position. I was under the thinking that this projected substitute is only allowable in the Top of the 1st. Help in SC
Paul Free
Pleasant Hill, SC - 3/28/17

You are absolutely correct. A CR was permitted for a pinch-hitter, not the catcher. This violates the rules. Local umpires should check with the rules interpreter from their local chapter for the proper interpretation,

This was a specific situation that occurred last season, caused chaos, and was a point of concern in our meeting. Great debate, but decision was tabled. Runner on 2nd base, no outs. Batter hits popup directly over the 2nd base bag. Runner remains on the base, places hands over head, and hunches over (the intent of the runner is to hold the base, but "give" as much room to the fielder as possible). F5 runs into R2 trying to make the catch. Is R2 out for interference (not allowing fielder to make the play)? What happens if F5 makes the catch, and incidental contact with R2 forces R2 off the base and he/she is put out (tagged or base stepped on before R2 can recover)? What if F5 makes deliberate contact with (pushes) R2?
Richmond, Virginia - 3/7/16

Never saw anything like this. I would say that if the runner makes every attempt to stay out of the fielders' way while holding the base, there should be no interference. There is no requirement to put himself at risk to be put out, just not to interfere. If the runner is down, he has allowed the fielder to make the catch by reaching over. If the fielder pushes the runner off the base after the catch, he is not out, the play is dead. If a fielder pushes a runner off a bag, he is not out no matter what the play.Check with your local interpreter.

Bases loaded and nobody out. A line drive to centerfield and the centerfielder makes a great catch. He gets up and throws to the first baseman who catches the ball while on the base before the runner gets back to first base. The first basement then throws the ball to the shortstop covering second who steps on second before the runner gets back. The runner on third had tagged up and reaches home plate before the “triple play” had been completed. Would this be zero runs or one run scored for the half inning?
Rick Schwab

The run scores. The last 2 outs are technically appeal plays, and there can be no force play when a batted ball is caught in the air.

My question is: Say a batter bunts a ball into foul ground, and the catcher chases it and swipes it with his mask to make sure it doesn’t go into fair territory. I’ve heard that is a balk?
Ray Page, Brentwood, CA

It is illegal use of detached equipment. All runners get one base.

The team at bat has 1 out, runners on base. The team in the field makes the 2nd out. The entire batting team leave the bases and head into the dugout. Before they realize what happened, the batting team coach realizes there is only 2 outs and attempts to send his players back to their bases. The fielding coach says, “that is an automatic out”, refuses to take the field, until the ump makes the call..because it’s 3 outs. What is the umps call?

Once the baserunners enter the dugout, thay have abandonded the bases and are out.

Runner on third, one out. Fly ball to centerfielder who is camped under ball. Runner on third pulls bonehead move thinking there are two outs and jogs in & tags plate to score. Meanwhile coaches & fans go crazy yelling, ‘BAAAACK BAAAAACK”. Runner heads back to third (after touching plate). Centerfielder drops fly ball & runner is back on third. Does the run score? The ump in this game counted the run & took runner off third saying he was automatically scored once he touched home.
Mark Huggins

The run scores. Once a runner touches the plate, he can not retreat to third.
NOTE: The runner can not retreat because he has legally scored.

Rule 5.06 Comment / 5.08a Comment: A run legally scored cannot be nullified by subsequent action of the runner, such as but not limited to an effort to return to third base in the belief that he had left the base before a caught fly ball.

On a play at the plate following a passed ball, does the catcher have to throw the ball in order to get a call of batter interference? I realize that the eventual interference call is still largely a judgment call by the ump, but I had an ump tell me this week that he couldn’t make an interference call without a throw being made. However, I have been unable to find this “requirement of a throw” anywhere in the rule book (although it does mention the impact of the offensive team “impeding a throw”). On a passed ball my catcher started a motion to throw back towards home but then held on to the ball when he saw the batter (who was slightly out of the box) directly between him and the front of the plate.
Patrick Raymark, Clemson, SC

No throw is required for an interference call and there is no "requirement of a throw" rule. The umpires can not watch everything during a play such as this. Though the plate umpire should be watching the ball, depending on his position, it may have not been possible to see that the throw was perhaps impeded. That being said, all the catcher has to do is take a step to either side to make the throw. In addition, the batter has no perspective on the play and can not just evaporate. Based on your statement, I'd say this is not interference. However, in a situation where the batter has time to clear and just stands at the plate, it is interference.

The batter bunts the ball in front of plate, runs out of the batters box and the bat lands in fair territory. The ball actually hits the bat after its dropped on the ground. Nobody touches the ball to make it touch the bat. Since the bat and the ball are in fair territory when the ball hits the bat on the ground, is the batter ruled out or a foul ball?
High Point Christian Academy - 5/3/15

If the ball rolls into the bat and the umpire determines there was no intent on the batters part, the ball is live and in play.

What is the penalty for when a runner runs for both the catcher and the pitcher with High School rules?
William Square

This should never happen, and I've never seen it in 20+ years. This is why the plate umpire should be keeping track of courtesy runners. He is an illegal substitute.

A batter hits an infield ground ball and beats out the throw to first base. The runner runs over the first base bag (not touching it at all). What is the proper call the umpire should make? What is the proper appeal the defensive team should make and how should it be handled by the umpire?
Rob Eccleston

A runner is considered safe pending appeal if he misses a touch. The defense can immediately tag him with the ball or touch the bag. There does not have to be a verbal appeal if it is obvious to the umpire that it is an appeal of the missed base, except under HS rules where a live ball appeal must also be verbalized.  It can not be an inadvertent touch of the base by the defense without a verbal appeal under any applicable rules.

1 out, swinging third strike, ball in the dirt and hitter takes a step to the dugout.  Not knowing the ball was in the dirt.  Ball rolls a couple feet in front of the catcher and the catcher scoops ball with hits mask.  Runner on first base. What is the ruling?
Mark Ditsworth
Lansing, MI. - 10/14/14

The ball is live.  The runner gets 1 base from where he was when the ball was touched with detached equipment.

Batter hits a home run. While rounding the bases he has a quarral with an opponent and is ejected before crossing home plate. Does the run count?
Rich Seggi

Yes. The ejection is effective after playing action is complete.

I don't understand why the ball in a fair foul call in front of a base umpire (1st or 3rd) is not a reviewable call. Sometimes it is so obvious and would take 10 seconds to overturn a call like this: so obvious that the ball rolled over the bag or did not and the call was blown, or that the ball hit the line in front of the ump and was ruled foul, and it is so fusturating when it is so obvious and can't be reviewed. If baseball wants to get its calls right, in instituting the replay policy, why disallow these obvious blown calls to be reviewable?
Blake Linze
USA - 8/10/14

Unless you or the camera is looking directly down the line, you can't tell if a call was correct or not.
MLB considered this but did not want to deal with a fair ball being called foul which would stop all playing action.

If a batter is hit by a pitch when he positions his body in the strike zone i.e. turns his back to a pitch is it a strike or a walk?
Ken Suchla
Independence, WI - 7/15/14

The ball is dead, it is a strike if the pitch is in the strike zone when he is hit and the batter remains at bat (if less than 2 strikes), or if out of the zone he gets 1st on the hit by the pitch.

A runner at third leaves early on a fly to the outfield. He crosses home plate. At what point is it too late for him to retreat back to third?
Gary Benson

As soon as he touches the plate.

Runner of 1st, one out. R1 is stealing on the pitch and the right-handed batter swings and misses at a low outside pitch for strike three. The batter's momentum carries him out of the box toward 1st base and he clearly interferes with the catcher's throw on R1 - the throw hits the batter. The batter is already out on strike 3. What is the ruling?
S. Zamas

The batter is out on strike 3, and the runner is out on the batter's interference.

In between innings a fielder takes the mound and starts throwing pitches to the catcher, then the real pitcher comes out and starts pitching. Fielder takes his normal position. Is this illegal?
Doug Shaw
Davenport, Iowa - 6/11/14

Yes. Once a player throws one warm-up pitch from the rubber, he must pitch to a minimum of one batter.

Bases loaded 1 out. Batter hits short pop fly that catcher catches in fair territory. Runner on 2nd and 3rd took off on contact. Catcher throws to 3rd baseman who throws home as runner slides into home. Ball gets past catcher and runner retreats to 3rd base. Catcher then throws to 2nd base to try getting the runner there. Ball bounces away and runner on 3rd comes home a second time and scores. Was this a legal play?
Adam Davis
Stetsonville, WI - 6/7/14

No. Once the runner scores, he can no longer retreat to 3rd to re-touch.

Bottom of 7th, Bases loaded 1 out, ball hit to left field. Batter-runner advances to 1st, runner on 3rd goes home ahead of the throw. Ump calls ballgame as he crosses the plate. Problem is the runners on 1st and second never left their bags, the coaches told them to stay. Defense sees this and runs the ball to 3rd and to second before they have all left the field. Offense is still celebrating as the ump realizes he screwed up and calls both out. Since it was a force he said no runs count and should go to extra innings. What should have happened in that situation?
Jeremy Christopher
Chattanooga, TN - 6/5/14

Not a good situation. I don't know why an umpire would "call" a ball game, but this is the only solution to the problem, since the runners did not run and they were legally forced out.

Two run HR, lead runner is 3rd out for not touching home on an appeal after the play. Does the batter's run count?
Steve Slate
Aliquippa, PA - 5/23/14

No.  No run can score if the preceding runner is the 3rd out.

An interesting scenario happened in our ball game last night. Runner on 1st - ground ball to 1st baseman. Runner left 1st but then went back to the base as the fielder gathered the ball. Fielder touched 1st base thus making the batter out. Normally when this happens the runner needs to be tagged and is usually going to 2nd (but could technically go back to 1st since the base is open after the fielder touches it making the batter out). However, in this case the runner was actually on 1st base when it was touched by the fielder. Is the runner then "safe" at 1st as it is an open base or is there a rule that he cannot be standing on 1st at all - is he considered illegally occupying 1st base?
Sean Polreis
Saskatoon, SK Canada - 5/13/14

If the runner was tagged and then the bag, you've got a DP. If the bag was tagged first and the runner is on the bag, the batter-runner is out and the runner is safe. He can not legally occupy 1st until the batter-runner is first out, but there is no rule violation.

Tie score bottom of the last inning, 2 outs, runner on 3rd, 3 balls on the batter. Ball 4 is a wild pitch and the runner from 3rd scores the potential winning run. The batter celebrates and does not reach 1st base. The fielders all leave the field thinking the game is over. Do I call the batter/runner out and the game continues or does the fielding team have to appeal (but can't since they all left the field). What is the ruling?
Kevin Collins
Carneys Point, NJ - 5/5/14

Once they leave the field, that's it. The game is over. No appeals.

Runner on second; less than 2 outs; batter swings at strike 3; umpire does not call the batter out; he believes the ball hit the ground before catcher makes the catch, drop 3rd; batter runs to first; catcher throws the ball into the outfield; runner on second scores; batter runner ends up on second; Homeplate umpire calls time walks out and talks to the field umpire; home plate changes his call to 'batter is out'
My question is does the run score over should the runner that scored been put back on second?
Bob, Zane
Chesterfield, Va. - 5/5/14

He should be put back at 2nd. Under HS rules, any such reversed umpire decision that puts either team at a disadvantage, the disadvantage should be corrected (10-2-3l).

What is the rule on hit by pitch? Does a batter need to make an effort to get out of the way or can he just stand and be struck by the ball? Need high school rule on this.
Chris Smith
Boulder CO - 4/22/14

It is a judgement call by the plate umpire. The batter must make an effort. However, sometimes a fast ball is throw at an area, like his back, where he really can't do anything, or he has to hang in there for a breaking curve ball. In both cases he gets 1st. If it is obviously a batter just standing there to be hit, the ball is dead and the pitch is ruled based on if it was in the strike zone where it hit him (strike) or not (ball). He does not get 1st. Any runners going return.

If a runner fails to touch home plate on an inside-the-park home run, and proceeds to leave the field of play and celebrate with his teammates in his dugout, what is the appropriate call? Is the runner safe or out? Does his run count?
Mark Sundstrom
Fontana, CA - 4/17/14

The runner is safe pending appeal.

Filled box, 2 outs, the batter makes a hit he is safe to the first base, but he risks and goes to second base, the runner that was originally in second base now he runs from third to home, in the same moment umpire calls out to the batter-runner between first and second base, the runner scores?
Dulce Miranda
Cananea, Sonora Mexico - 4/8/14

If the runner touches home plate before the tag is made on the runner, the run scores.

Runners on first and third with one out. Runner on third tags up and heads home on a fly ball. The runner on first runs on the hit and does not tag. The throw is cut off. The runner on third crosses the plate. Then the runner on first is tagged out after the runner on third has crossed the plate. Does the run count since it was the third out and the second out of the play?
Russell Woodall
Corsicana, TX - 3/31/14

It counts because it is not a force play. It is technically an appeal play for leaving the base early.Though no tag is required at first, it is not a force play since the runner is not forced to second. It is a time play.

This situation happened to me best mate and we're still a bit wankered by it. Here's my best explanation: NFHS Rules. Nobody on, Nobody out. The pitcher throws a high hard one up near the batter's head. The batter in attempting to avoid getting schnockered accidentally hits the ball with the end of the bat (near his hands). The ball pops into the air and the pitcher easily catches it in Fair Territory. However, me matey he bethinks that the pitch has struck the batter so he inadvertently declares "Dead Ball" after the ball hits the bat, but before the pitcher makes the catch. A bloody rhubard ensues. What should we have done? Catch, batter's out? Dead Ball, batter gets First? Do Ova? Foul Ball, even though the pitcher caught it on the mound? Thanks for your help matey! You're a champ. G'Day!
Preston Davis
Woomera, South Australia - 3/15/14

It is difficult enough for the plate umpire to determine whether or not the ball has hit the batter (they often sound the same) in a case like this and he is right there and should be tracking the ball. Your partner should not have said anything at all. This is the plate umpire's call. That being said... You're essentially stuck with this call, batter gets 1st. The plate umpire can discuss it with the base umpire (who must overturn his own call) but this would cause even more problems. Do over and foul ball are completely out of the question. If this happened to me as the plate umpire, I and my partner have to live with his call (we would have a discussion after the game). Also, the best bet for the plate umpire is to pause a second and see it there is any reaction by the batter (virtually impossible to fake). If he does react and you've already allowed play to continue, just state that it hit the bat first, then the batter. Also, there is no call "dead ball". It is "time".

Runner attempts to steal home the pitch hits the runner, there's a man on first, he takes off the catcher throws him out..whats the rule?
Alberto Dumey
Rahway N.J. - 3/15/14

When a legal pitch hits the runner, the ball is dead and runners advance (he gets 2nd). If the pitch is in the strike zone with 2 out and it is strike 3, the batter is out and the run does not score. Before there are 2 outs and the pitch is in the strike zone, the batter is out on strike 3 and the run scores.

Trees are hanging over the field of play in the outfield. Fly ball looks like a HR. It hits the tree and (a) goes over the fence, or (b) falls into play. What's the rule? Can there ever be a HR if it hits the tree? I was thinking it's a dead ball, but don't know where to put the batter and runners.
Walter Green
Gretna, LA - 3/5/14

If it hits the tree and clears the fence it is a HR. If it hits the tree and falls back onto the playing field, it is live and in play.

NFHS rules, tournament. Bottom of 7th bases loaded, tie game. Umpire calls balk and apparent winning run from third touches home plate. A celebration results in runner at first not advancing to second. Visiting team appeals that runner at first did not touch second and therefore is out. They claim no run scores and game ends in a tie. Umpires agree. My interpretation is that runners are "awarded a base" and therefore may decline to advance. This is not a force situation and home team should have won.
Steve Harrow
CA - 3/2/14

You are correct. This is not a force, the run counts reguardless.

Runner on 2nd base. Pitcher spins to do pick-off, fakes a throw. The SS covering the bag jumps up like the throw sailed over his head into center field. Runner, thinking the ball is in center, takes off and the pitcher, who still had the ball, easily picks the runner off. While OK in Little League, in High School wouldn't this be a balk, for deceiving a runner?
Kevin Dufficy
Larkspur, CA - 2/24/14

If there is no fake tag involved, this is a legal play. I've seen it attempted but have never seen it work.

Runner on second pitcher comes set, runner attempts to steal third. Pitcher steps directly toward third and throws to third. Pitcher did not step off the rubber. Runner is called out on the tag. Is this a balk? Can the pitcher throw to an unoccupied base?
Bill Steele
Florida NY - 7/10/13

It is not a balk. A pitcher can throw to an unoccupied base if he is making a play, which is the case here.

Once a pitcher comes set out of the stretch position can he shake off or agree to the catchers sign by nodding his head no or yes?
Jerry McCoy
Rootstown, OH - 7/2/13

Yes. If he moves his shoulders after coming set, it is a balk.

This just happened at a Babe Ruth 13U-15U district tournament, in a tight game. There is one out and a runner on third. There are two strikes on the batter. The batter swings and misses for strike three in the dirt, but the catcher misses the pitch and the ball goes to the backstop. The runner at third starts running home, while the batter remains in the batter's box. The catcher attempts to throw the ball back to the pitcher who is covering home. However, the ball hits the batter who still remains in the box and in the path of the ball, preventing the pitcher from catching the ball and tagging the runner coming home. In addition, this also prevents the pitcher from tagging the batter who just struck out. After some review, umpire finally calls it a 'dead ball' and awards the batter first base and has the other runner go back to third. What should have been the call? (I think both the runner and batter should have been out for interference by the batter, as this would have been a double play situation at home plate). Thanks, in advance, if you can help shed some light on this situation.
Paul Maggard
North Carolina - 7/2/13

The ball is dead, the batter is out on strike 3 and it is interference on the batter, so the runner is also called out.

The pitcher in the stretch starts his motion to pitch, the runner at second starts to steal third. Pitcher stops his motion to throw to third. A balk is called and the play is called dead. The ball was over thrown but the runner stayed at third because the runner heard dead ball. Should the runner be awarded home?
Jim D
Pequot Lakes, MN - 7/1/13

No. Under HS rules the ball is immediately dead. Under pro rules it is not an immediate dead ball, but all runners including the batter-runner have to advance at least 1 base for the balk to be ignored.

Ball four called due to pitch in the dirt, catcher blocks and ball and ball rolls into foul ground, as walked batter advance to 1st he tosses his bat back to the dugout and hits the ball with the bat. Runners were sent from 3rd and 2nd to score. Then opposing coach inquires as to dead ball call due to walked batter hitting the ball in foul territory. Umpire calls dead ball and interference and walked batter out. Is this a correct call?
Troy Eller Westville, Il

I believe this is similar to the rule when the ball is bunted and the bat comes into contact with the ball a 2nd time on the ground. If the ball strikes the bat, the play continues. If the bat strikes the ball, it is interference.

nobody on. ball hit to second baseman. first baseman has to run back to the bag to make the play ball is thrown to the first baseman as he is moving. he goes to touch the bag as the batter runner reaches the bag. base umpire calls the batter runner out . first base coach asks for an appeal to home plate umpire saying the first baseman missed the bag. Is this allowed.? is the batter runner out because of the first call of out , even if the first baseman did miss the bag . if an appeal is allowed the batter runner would be safe.
Don Turgeon

It is up to the base umpire, but is common. Often a base umpire does not have the angle to see if the foot was on the bag due to the development of the play and his position.
The base umpire can reverse himself after consultation. It is not an appeal play.

Does the 1st baseman have to have both feet in fair territory?
Gene Kalar
Sandy Oregon - 6/9/13

Under HS rules, one foot is all that is required. Yes under pro rules, but the umpire manual mentions not to enforce it unless the other side complains.

What happens when a player hits a home run with a runner on base, and the batter crosses home before the runner on base, due to the fact the runner stopped to give a hi-5 at home plate. Is this an appeal play?
Nick - 5/10/13

No, The batter-runner is out for passing a runner. This is not an appeal play.

Man on first and third, first baseman not holding runner on and is positioned behind the runner. Question: Is it legal for the pitcher to step off the rubber and throw to first as the first baseman is moving towards first. The first baseman catches the ball and tags the runner out before he returns to the base. I was always under the assumption that a first baseman must be in close proximity to the base on a pickoff attempt.
Illinois - 5/5/13

When he steps off the rubber he becomes an infielder and can throw to wherever he chooses. The 1st baseman must be in close proximity unless a play is on where the 1st baseman is moving towards the bag. Also, if the 1st baseman stays behind the runner and the pitcher throws to the bag anyway, it is not a balk.

High School Baseball game. The batter swings and misses the third strike, catcher has the ball hit his chest and it rebounds down the first base line. The batter takes off for first base and inadvertently kicks the ball which now rolls out of bounds. He makes it to first on a bad throw from the catcher. Is he out for kicking the ball?
Tom Anticola
Lancaster NY - 5/1/13

No. Take a look at play 2.21.1Situation C in the 2013 Case Book. It deals with the unintentional kick which is legal. Since the ball went dead and is still considered a pitch, as long as it did not come to rest, I would award one base to everyone from the time of the pitch.

Ball four, left handed batter flicks / tosses his bat toward his third base dugout. Catcher simultaneously attempts to pick the runner off third. The thrown ball hits the bat in mid air. Since it's ball four does it become runner interface or is it still batter interference? It would have been a close play at third going either way. What the ruling?
Chris Whiting
Moraga. CA - 4/13/13

I've never seen anything like this, one of the great things about the game. The batter is out for interference.

If a batter hits the ball towards the mound, and the ball hits off the rubber and ricocheted in foul territory between home and 1st base or between home and 3rd base, is that a fair ball or foul ball?
George Moriba
Chesapeake, VA - 3/15/13

It is a foul ball. I have seen this occur where a line drive bounced off the exposed front of the rubber and directly back to the catcher who was still in the catcher's box.

NFHS Rules. Runner on 3rd. Ball hit to SS whose initial play is to 1st, but after the runner crosses the base. He then throws into the dugout. Runner (R1) on third stands fast.
1) R1 gets home, B1 is awarded 2nd since the award is two bases from the time of the pitch
2) R1 stays on 3rd, B1 gets 2nd.
3) R1 gets home, B1 gets 3rd since he was past 1st when SS made the throw.
Half of us say #1.; Half says it depends where the runner is, though we cannot find that in the book. Please cite the rule.
Fran Davey
Chattanooga, TN - 2/19/13

2 bases from the time of the pitch. See Base running awards table pg 49: "First throw by infielder and ball goes out of play..."

1 out runner on first. Batter hits a soft line drive directly at SS. SS let's ball hits his glove and drops it at his feet. Flips a 6-4-3. Should the dp be allowed? I know it's difficult to measure intent but it was clear the SS did this intentionally. My thought is it should not be allowed but I can not find anything. If nothing else the SS had enough control to drop the ball at his feet. I could call a caught ball.
Steve Merkle
Columbus, OH - 10/8/12

As described, this is an intentionally dropped ball. The ball is dead, the batter is out and any runners return.

Watch the two clips below. The situation that occurred with me more mimics the second clip. I called balk. The coach and even other umpires tell me that as long as the 1b is breaking to the bag it is a legal play. I told them it has nothing to do with the 1st baseman, it has to do with where the pitcher threw the ball. The book says a pitcher must step and throw to the bag. What are your thoughts?
Josh Zuber
Benton, AR - 9/28/12

You are correct. If the pitcher throws the ball to the bag, it is not a balk. Technically, the ball needs to go over the bag if the 1st baseman is not there, but if the pitcher throws the ball to the bag in general (which would go into foul territory), a balk should not be called. In the second clip, and the ball was not thrown to and never reached the bag. In the first clip, the pitcher did not balk because he threw to the 3rd baseman off the bag. This is permitted. The balk was called because he started to the plate, then threw to 3rd.

The runner is called safe by umpire at home. Ball is then thrown to 3rd but but runner is safe as well. Then a batter enters the box and an appeal is in process saying the runner at home didn't touch. The plate umpire then motions out to grant appeal at plate. He was the umpire who called the runner safe. He then said he said safe for the tag at home not the touching of home. HELP!!!
Hermitage,TN - 9/24/12

See the answer below. Any runner missing a base or the plate is condidered safe pending appeal.

In the Cards-Mets game on 09/03/12, the runner missed touching first base and moves onto second base. According to the rule book is it up to the umpire to call that runner out at first even though he was safe at second base?
Marilou Cutt

A runner that misses a base is considered safe pending an appeal by the defense. If the defense appeals missing first, he is ruled out.

Runners on 1st and 2nd. Pitching from the stretch, the pitcher fails to come set. As he releases the pitch, the field umpire yells "balk!". The batter swings and hits the ball to deep left-center field. Two runs score and the batter ends up on 3rd. The home plate umpire negates the entire play because he mistakenly called time during the play in response to the balk call. Runners are placed back on the bases on 3rd and 2nd with the batter facing the same count. Is this the correct call or should he have let the play stand?
Austin, Texas - 8/27/12

Under HS rules, the ball is immediately dead on a balk. Under pro rules, if all runners including the batter-runner advance at least one base, the play stands and the balk is ignored. If time was called in error, it is up to the umpire to decide how to correct the mistake. If I was the umpire and the play did not stop or was altered when time was erroneously called, I'd let the play stand.

Follow-up from Austin:
Major league rules in effect. The game was protested. Upon review of the events the following day, the league ruled that since none of the defensive players directly involved in the play appeared to be affected by the inadvertent call, the umpire should have let the play stand. Even the defensive team ended up agreeing with this. Thanks SteveO for the reply. I wish you were there to make the call.

In NFHS high school rules... During a game I have entered all my subs so that everyone has batted. Later in the game, another one of my active starters is injured while still playing. Can I re-enter one of my sitting starters or move a sub to take over for the injured player? If not, do I have to take an out for the injured player and field only 8 players?
K. Volk
Terre Haute, IN - 7/20/12

It has to be a player eligible to re-enter in that spot in the batting order. All non-starters who have been in the game can not re-enter. If no one is eligible then, yes. You must take an out and field 8 players.

Runner on first with one out and low line drive to first baseman. Ball caught on hop and as runner holds bag. First baseman steps on bag and then tags runner while still on bag? Who is out? What if first baseman tags runner on bag before stepping on bag to force batter?
Patrick Dowling
RI - 7/19/12

The batter-runner is out, the runner on 1st is safe as the force has been removed. If the 1st baseman tags the runner and then steps on the bag, it's a double play.

There's a runner on third with less than two outs, and the batter hits a weak grounder down the first base line. The runner on third breaks for home. The pitcher fields the ball and tries to tag the runner going to first, but he tries to avoid the tag by running back towards home and is called out. The runner on third crossed home plate before the fieler tried to tag out the player heading for first. Does the run count?
John Piazza
Highland Heights, OH - 7/7/12

There is no rule in baseball that says the batter-runner can not retreat toward home. If the runner retreats and touchs the plate, the runner is out. You stated that there was less than 2 outs at the time of the pitch. The run would count even if the incorrect call was made as you indicated.

Here is the situation. Runner on second takes a large lead and takes off for third base without the pitcher even noticing him. The runner was standing on third as the pitcher was in his motion but had not yet thrown the pitch. The pitch is thrown and the batter pops out to the 2nd Baseman. The runner stays standing on third, the 2nd Baseman tags 2nd and the runner is called out by the umpire. Was this the right call? I believe that since the runner had already stolen/advanced to the next base prior to the pitcher throwing the pitch the runner did not need to return to his previous base on the pop fly. Any help would be appreciated.
Jason Burris
Petersburg, IL - 6/12/12

The time of the pitch begins when the pitcher begins his motion, not when he releases the ball. The runner must get to 3rd before the pitcher begins his motion for him not to need to go back. This was the correct call.

Bases loaded, 2 outs. Batter hits ball to second baseman, second basemen trys to tag R1, but he leaves the base path to avoid tag and is called out. Does the R3 runner score?
Tom Vail
NY - 6/8/12

No. This is still considered a force play as the runner is forced to 2nd.

In the bottom half of the last inning of a 7-7 game the home team has bases loaded and two outs. The next batter up gets a hit to the gap, the runner on third touches home, the runner on first touches 2nd and the batter touches first. However the runner on second never touches third and goes into home to celebrate. Does the run count and is the game over?
Lee Harget
Akron, OH - 5/4/12

The runner is safe pending appeal. If a legal appeal is made, he is out, the run does not score and the game continues.

Does any level of baseball allow the following line-up creativity? The coach hands over his line-up at the pre-game meeting, and in the 1st slot he has listed one player as the "pitcher/DH". However, there is no DH (no other player batting for the pitcher) in the line-up. He wants the option of being able to remove his pitcher, who was hitting for himself during the game, bring in another pitcher from the bench and still have his original pitcher in the game as the DH for the new pitcher for the remainder of the game. He said his college coach used to do this all the time. This was in a NFHS game, so no go, but is that legal in college or anywhere?
Rick Anderegg
Norton Shores, MI - 5/2/12

Yes. The pitcher may DH for himself under NCAA rules. This is not permitted under NFHS rules.

Batter hits a line drive and hits the base umpire, bounces off the BU and is caught. Is it a live ball?
Canada - 4/19/12

It depends. If it has passed an infielder not including the pitcher, yes it is live but it is not an out on the catch because it is not a catch off an umpire. If it has not passed a fielder not including the pitcher the ball is dead and the batter is awarded 1st.

Had a coach extemely sure of this, so I told him I knew who to ask: Runner on first, no outs. The pitcher intentionally stands on the rubber as to pitch from the windup position (right handed pitcher) He steps back off the rubber with his right foot, and as he is stepping off, he raises his hands together (with right hand and ball in glove) over his head. After stepping off with his right foot, he throws to first and picks off the runner. The coach says balk becuase of the hands. What do you think?
Sam Phelps
Denton, Tx - 4/1/12

This is deceptive and a balk. Before the pitcher can move his hands in this manner without throwing the pitch, he must completely step off the rubber.

Batter bunts, the firstbaseman fields it and the runner starts and backs up toward home. I contend the batter is automatically out. What is the exact rule/case that covers this?
Luis Venitucci
Austin Texas - 3/25/12

This is a softball rule. A batter-runner may retreat.. If he retreats and touches home plate, he is then out.

Situation: Runner on 3rd base, 2 outs, bottom of last inning. Batter hits game winning home run over fence. R3 scores and B/R is mobbed by teammates prior to reaching 1st base and en masse return to dugout. Is there a RULE that would allow an appeal on the batter for never touching 1st base? Fielders and umpires still on field when batter returned to dugout and ball is requested by catcher to make an appeal.
Bill Viter
Florida - 3/22/12

Yes. This is a proper appeal. The batter runner would be out at first and no runs score, the game continues.

A local field has the foul poles mounted inside the fence of the playing field. What would the ruling be if a batted ball hit the pole and: 1. Ricocheted foul; 2. Ricocheted fair over the fence; 3. Hit the pole above the fence and bounced into the playing field.
Pete Petrucci
Scranton, PA - 3/21/12

1. Ground rule double. 2/ Home Run. 3/ Live ball in play.

High School rule 3-1-4. I had seen that there is an addition rule that a pitcher in high school can be listed as dh/1 and dh for himself. Example would be he is listed in line up as dh pitcher and when he gets done pitching he goes to bench but will still hit for who ever replaces him on the mound. Is this a rule that was added to 3-1-4, if so where can i get documentation on it.
Brandall Buckles
Phelan California - 3/12/12

This is a college rule, not a HS rule. No starting defensive player can be listed as DH.

What is the rule for a pitcher and batting switching from lefty or righty during an at bat in Babe Ruth League? We were discussing this at an Umpire training class and I read about the guy from the Yankees but our head Umpire said the pitcher cannot change sides during the at bat and the batter can change every pitch if he wants to.. See below.
Andy LaPointe
Ellicott City, MD - 3/4/12

Your head umpire is correct. Under HS rules the umpire shall require the pitcher to face a batter as either a left-handed pitcher or a right-handed pitcher, but not both. Under Pro rules, the pitcher must visually indicate which way he will pitch and must throw one pitch to the batter before any "switch" by either player is allowed...afterwards each may switch once per at bat.

I umpire high school baseball and we had a training meeting.The subject of batter interference came up.The instructor said that there has to be a throw by the catcher for batter interference to be called? Yes or No.
Jack Pittsley

Absolutely not.

(Reference Yankee l/r pitcher Pat Venditte) Suppose a switchhitter faces "switchpitcher" Venditte: who controls the at-bat, pitcher or hitter?. It seems to me that the batter must declare when he steps into the batter's box as lh or rh. Then the pitcher, still not on the rubber, adjusts to the batter. then each must remain as declared for that at-bat.
Jim Montgomery
Venice, FL - 2/18/12

Pitcher must visually indicate which way he will pitch...pitcher must throw one pitch to the batter before any "switch" by either player is allowed... After that each may switch once per at bat. See PBUC Umpire Manual 8.18. Click here for story behind rule

NFHS rules. Play is being made on R1 who was on second base and caught in a run down between home and third on a base hit. R1 was obstructed during the run down but returned to third base safely. As he was safely returning to third R2 who was on first base when the play started was advancing to third during the rundown and was tagged out. I felt that since the obstruction happened before the final out and rule R1 is awarded home for obstruction and all other runners advance at their own risk, the run counts and the inning us over on the third out.
Kevin Exler
Rockledge Florida - 2/9/12
It is a delayed dead ball, the obstructed runner gets a minimum of 1 base. If you felt that R2 would have made 3rd had there been no obstruction, he can be awarded third. Otherwise, play continues and he is out.

Bases loaded,one out, batter bunts a ball foul but is rolling back into fair territory and the catcher intentionally scoops the foul ball up with his mask that he is holding in his throwing hand. Is this a legal play or should the runners and batter runner be awarded bases?
Don Turgeon
Chicopee MA - 2 /8/12

This is improper use of detached equipment. If it's a batted ball which in your opinion could possibly have rolled fair, it would be a 3 base award for the batter-runner.

Runner on 3rd, 1 out, 3-2 count on batter. Runner steals home but ball hits runner in strike zone as he's crossing the plate. What's the call? Does the run score?
Craig Campbell
Michigan - 1/4/12

See 5.09(h): Any legal pitch touches a runner trying to score; runner advance.

Is a runner out if he is struck by a fair ball while standing on a base. If so or not, what about the batter runner?
Chicopee, MA - 12/7/11

Any runner is out when struck by a fair batted ball while on a base unless it is an infield fly.The batter-runner gets first.

This happened last night in a 16U tournament playing under 2011 NFHS rules. R3 with 2 outs and 3 balls on batter. Wild pitch results in ball 4 and R3 scoring. Defensive team protests illegal bat of player that walked and umpire determines the bat was in fact illegal as it was a (-5), all before the next pitch. Is the batter out and does R3's run count? Are both the batter and the head coach ejected? My lean: The batter is out and the run does not score based on the out being recorded at the time of the pitch, meaning runners must be returned to the base they occupied at the time of the pitch. Both the batter and the head coach are ejected.
Gregory Stiegler
Texas - 11/21/11

The rules state: The batter is out and all runners return to the base occupied at the start of the at-bat. Any runner advance that did not come as a result of the plate appearance (balk, stolen base, etc.) are permitted. The illegal bat must be discovered before the first pitch to the next batter. The bat is illegal, the appeal was proper, the batter is out for the third out, no run scores. The walk is irrelevant.The fact that it is a wild pitch does make the interpretation complicated, but the offense can not gain anything on this play with 2 out. Since the batter-runner does not get to first safely with 2 out, no run can score. No run can score when the third out is made by the batter-runner not reaching first base safely. See Scoring Runs. If there was one out at the time of the at-bat, the batter would be out and the run would count. If it takes place with less than 2 out, the provision referrring to not advancing as a result of the plate appearance would apply. There are no ejections applicable under the rules.

Phillies last out was by Ryan Howard who blew out his achillies and colasped 10 feet from batters box on a ground out. If that was a home run and he couldn't circle the bases, what would have happened?
Wayne Veal
E. Rutherford, NJ - 10/9/11

If the ball is hit out of the park (4-base dead ball award), a pinch runner can take the batter-runner's place and run the bases to complete the home run.

Bases loaded two out in the bottom half of the 7th inning score tied and the batter walks forcing in the winning run When this happens the base runner at first begins to celebrate the win and does not advance to second. The team in the field appeals at second and the runner is called out Does the run score or not?
Ron Sahm

If the infielders have not left the field, the runner has left the field (abandoned running the bases) and it is a proper appeal, this is a force out and the run does not count.

If there are bases loaded, 2 outs and a batter hits a home run, then proceeds to pass the runner on first base, he is called out which ends the inning. The question is: if the runner on third touches home plate before the batter is called out, does the run count?
Kent Norgren
Boulder, Co.- 8/27/11

This is not a time play. A home run is technically a dead ball 4 base award. If the batter-runner touched 1st before passing the runner on 1st at the time of the pitch and since the 3rd out was not on a force play, the batter-runner is out for the 3rd out and all 3 runners score.

Runners on 1st and 3rd,1 out-fly ball hit to outfield is caught for 2nd out. Both runners took off never tagging up, thinking ball would not be caught. Runner on 3rd scored . After ball was caught, fielder threw to 1st for 3rd out since runner did not tag up. If ball is not thrown to 3rd for essentally 4th out, would the run count?
Tony Roberts
Grove Hill, Al. - 7/19/11

Yes. The runner scores pending appeal.

American legion playoff game: 2 outs, 2 strikes on batter swings and misses the the pitch is the dirt, dropped 3rd strike, ball bounces off the catcher and rolls into fair territory and hits the batter in fair territory as he is running to first. Is the batter runner out for being hit with a live ball in fair territory?
Joe Tornello
Charlottesville,VA,USA - 7/17/11

No. It is not a batted ball, assuming that it was not intentional.

There is one out and a runner on first. The batter hits a fly ball to center and the center fielder dives for the ball but drops it. The original runner on first went to second but thought the center fielder caught the ball so starts back to first. By doing so the batter passes the runner and proceeds to score. The original runner then realizes that the fielder dropped the ball and turns and he scores. Who should be out and should any runs count?
Bill Madar
Parma, Ohio - 6/13/11

The batter-runner is immediately out when he passes the runner. The ball remains live and in play. The original runner scores.

Bases loaded, bottom of 9th, 2 outs, tie score. Base on balls to batter Runner on 3rd reaches home and is mobbed by team. Runner on 2nd joins mob before touching 3rd, does the run score?
Gregory Smith
Grand Junction, CO - 6/1/11

He scores pending appeal. If the defense leaves the field, they forfeit their right to appeal. If they appeal before leaving the field, the 3rd out is a force out, the run does not score and the game goes into the 10th.

My son plays baseball in WI. They follow NFHS rules. I issue came up about a bunt being a strike simply holding the bat over the plate. I need you help! Here is the ump's response:
Hi Dan. As follow-up and fyi I maintain my original opinion that holding the bat out over the plate is an attempted swing (or strike at the ball) and thus is a strike regardless of where the pitch is. There is no rule 2.0 in the NFHS 2011 rule book. My judgment remains the same based on rule 7-2b "a strike is charged to the batter when: a pitch is struck at and missed (even if the pitch touches the batter)." I am not familiar with who that is you referred to in your links below but I have to go by what I see in the NFHS 2011 official rule book. I have not found any specific description regarding holding the bat out over the plate as not being a strike in the rule book. Therefore in my judgment I believe rule 7-2b to be what best explains this situation. In my opinion I believe the bat being left out over the plate for an attempted bunt as a strike or swing at the ball I would be happy to reconsider my opinion should there be a specific rule pointed out that I can see explains this situation.
Dan, Wellman
Brookfield, WI - 5/31/11

Holding the bat out over the plate is not an attempt to bunt or a swing, hence not a strike. The pitch must be in the strike zone or an attempt must be made at striking the ball. However, in federation softball, this was changed to a strike for 2011. Since your responder is an umpire, he must not have read the NFHS baseball case book. Many rulings can be found there which are not in the rule book proper. Page 57, ""The mere holding of the bat in the strike zone is not an attempt to bunt."

After the third out is made and the teams are exchanging sides, F4 picks up the ball and in jest throws a warm-up pitch to the catcher. Is he now a pitcher? In my opinion, NO. Although he may become an unreported substitute, play has yet to commence and therefore should not be made to play that position.
Bob Brown
York, PA - 5/23/11

If he throws one warm-up pitch from the rubber, he must pitch to a minimum of one batter.

Bases loaded. Pitcher delivers pitch to catcher. Runner on first proceeds to second (steal attempt). The runner on second stays on the base. True or false: the runner caught in the base path can be put out by tagging first base with ball in hand. The runner does not have to be tagged to be out unless the runner on second leaves the base toward third, correct? Just happened tonight. Thank you.
David Yoho
Louisville, KY - 5/17/11

He must be tagged.

Situation: Bases loaded and base hit to left center field that the left fielder fields. Runner at 3rd base scores easily but runner from second rounding third base collides with third basemen and both fall down. Delayed interference is indicated by home plate umpire. At this time, runner from first base rounds second base hard heading towards third and would have made it easily but sees runner ahead of him and third basemen are on the ground and stops He heads back to second base and left fielder throws behind him with second basemen on the bag and tags him out. This happened in my game last night. Why would the runner rounding second base at a minimum be rewarded second base? He obviously stopped because he saw the two players on the ground ahead of him at third base and retreated back to second.
Eric Christian
Wyanet, Illinois - 5/12/11

Thisis the type of play one really needs to see. Based on your description, the runner from 2nd is obstructed. This is a delayed dead ball. He would be awarded home at the end of playing action. The runner from first is a judgment call. The rule does refer to other runners affected by the obstruction. If in the umpires judgment he would have reached 3rd, he would be awarded 3rd base. If in the umpires judgment he would not have reached 3rd, the out would stand. With the ball in left field, he very well may not have been able to reach 3rd safely.

Bases loaded, 2 outs, the hitter hits the ball to short centerfield, the runner from 1st Base is out at 2nd base ( the throw to 2nd by the CF beats the runner to 2nd) but the runner who is fast crosses home plate before the runner is out at 2nd base. The questions is: Does the run count because he touched home plate before the out at 2nd base?
Brooklyn, NY - 5/11/11

No, the run does not count. The 3rd out is made on a force out.

The batter swings at the third strike and misses...the catcher drops the ball. The batters follow through with the bat makes contact with the ball that the catcher has dropped, knocking it out of reach. Is the batter out for interference?
Dave Wiley
Arizona - 5/5/11

Yes. Any runners go back.

Runners on second and third, one out. Batter hits a low liner to center. Runner on second thinks it will drop and runs towards third, while runner on third tags. Centerfielder catches the line drive at his feet and trips a little. Then the runner on third, after tagging correctly, heads for home. Centerfielder gets control and throws home. The pitcher, realizing the runner has crossed home, cuts off the throw and then throws to second to get runner who did not tag up. This makes the third out, a force out, but it comes after the runner crossed home plate. Question: Does the run count?
Fallbrook, Ca.- 5/3/11

This is not a force out. The runner on 2nd is not forced to 3rd. The run scores.

Can a coach have a stopwatch in the coaches box? I am guessing no.
Nate Rykal
Green Bay, WI - 4/15/11

Under NFHS rules, a stopwatch is permitted.

I umpire High School baseball in the spring (NFHS) and Legion and VFW in the summer (Major League rules). At a rules meeting this week, we discussed the obstruction rule in the NFHS rule book. In the rules, it states the runner gets one base past the one he had legally obtained. The play we discussed was a pick-off play on a base runner leading off at second base. I am unclear on the correct NFHS rule interpretation if the runner is obstructed. In the Major League rule book, I believe the runner would be awarded second base, regardless of safe or out. However, with the rule stated differently in the high school rule book, would the runner be awarded third? Or would the ruling matter if the runner was out or safe on the play? We came up with a good idea of the interpretation, I am just not confident we made the correct one. If there is any insight you could provide, I would greatly appreciate it. Love the resources your site provides... thank you for the great source for umpire information!
Peder Lunde
Sioux Falls, SD - 3/23/11

This is type a obstruction in Pro ball (7.06a). "If a play is being made on an obstructed runner...the ball is dead and all runners shall advance, without liability to be put out, to the base they would have reached, in the umpires judgment, if there had been no obstruction. The obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he had last legally touched before the obstruction." That means third base. This is just obstruction under NFHS rules (2-2-2, 8-3-2) "When a runner is obstructed (2-2-2) when advancing or returning to a base, the umpire shall award the obstructed runner...the bases they would have reached, in his opinion, there had been no obstruction....The obstructed runner is awarded a minimum of one base beyond his position on base when the obstruction occurred." That also means third base. An out or safe call on the play is irrelevant under both codes.

In baseball, the lower and upper edge of the strike zone is determined by the batters stance. What is the smallest possible distance between those edges - or in other way - how much can the batter crouch to make the strike zone as smallest as possible (lets consider he doesn't want to hit, just earn walk). Would the umpire really let that batter to speculate like this with out any persecution? Or would he just set the strike zone according to his view?
Bratislava, Slovakia, Europe - 2/18/11

The height of the strike zone is determined by the batter's normal batting stance. If he crouches or leans over in order to make the shoulder line lower, the umpire determines height by what would be the batter's normal stance. The bottom is determined by the knees.

NFHS rules: One out, runner on second, line drive hits second baseman's glove then hits the 2nd base umpire, then is caught by the centerfielder. Do you have a catch, is it umpires interference or is the ball still live
Lynn Snow
Waukomis, Oklahoma - 2/3/11

When the ball strikes and umpire or a offensive player and is then caught as in your example, it is not a catch. (Rule 2-9-1). The ball remains live.

1st and 3rd-the runner at 1st takes his lead by backing up more than 3 feet towards RF. Is his baseline now established from where he begins towards second base? If the 1st Baseman plays on the 2nd base side of the runner and we throw to the 1st baseman who will have the ball and be between the runner and 2nd base. If the runner has established his baseline as being 5 feet behind 1st base, will he be out when he tries to go BACK to first or is he allowed to have what is essentially a triangular baseline?
Luis Venitucci
Austin, Texas - 1/27/11

Yes, the baseline is established from his position behind 1st base toward whichever base he heads to. A throw to the 2nd baseman in that position is most likely a throw to an unoccupied base and a balk. The runner's base path is established from where he is to where he is going. If he changes direction, he has established a new base path. There is no "triangular" base path.

What if a coach requests TO for an injury to F1 & it's his 2nd visit to the mound that inning with the same pitcher. Is the coach circumventing the charged conference limitations by requesting a TO to visit F1 for the 2nd time by placing him at a different defensive position after the visit? Or, is it still not a charged conference if the coach's request comes prior to the trip out to the mound for an injury? I ruled no charged trip on the coach's request during a recent American Legion game (Pro Rules). Some colleagues believe the coach was attempting to circumvent the trip rule by requesting a TO for an injury.
Pete Ververis
Norwich, CT - 12/1/10

You are correct.; I must point out, however, that it is your job to follow the coach to the mound and monitor exactly what is said and done. The coach must first clear the visit with the plate umpire before coming on the field if it to be a non-charged conference. If he has already crossed the foul line, it's a charged conference. In 20 years, I have never seen that happen. We can't read minds, and I would never want to refuse a visit for a injury especially in a game being played by kids. If you are there monitoring the conference, there would be nothing to gain other than a slight delay in the progress of the game. The player's position can be switched without the coach coming on the field.

I have a baseball player that has a Easton Sc900 Stealth Bat Optiflex Reg BESR Certified -3. It is a BST8 33" 30 oz 2 5/8" barrel. Can you tell me if this bat is legal for 2010 based on the new rules. We are confused on the changes.
Ronnie Gibbs
Ironton, MO - 8/25/10

The BESR standard is still in effect for 2010-2011 seasons for HS ball. The new BBCOR standard is in effect 1/1/2012. For NCAA, the change takes place for the 2011 season. See: BBCOR

Man on 1st..dropped third on 1st takes off for second, batter runs up the line about half way, when the 1st basemen catches the throw from home he's not on the bag and comes down the line to make the tag and the runner start to back up toward home to avoid being tagged. Is the batter runner out for backing up or not until he's tagged? or?? do we call him out for backing up right off?.
Harry Kipp
Yelm, Washington - 8/19/10

The batter is out if he retreats to and touches the plate.

Can a high school catcher in Georgia wear a two piece helmet (batting helmet style cap with face mask instead of a hockey style helmet and facemask?
Atlanta, Georgia - 8/7/10

Yes, but only if they were manufactured, tested and approved as a single unit.

First baseman holding runner on base with one foot completely out of fair territory. Pitcher pitches to batter and pitch is called a strike. Since first baseman's foot is out of fair territory, what is the call? According to rule, I don't see a penalty for this even though everyone is supposed to be in fair territory. I believe a warning should be issued and if it happens again, a sportsmanship call (mockery of game) be called against first baseman. I don't think a balk can be be called, either. Please provide detailed ruling.
David Beheler
Lincolnton, North Carolina - 6/16/10

There is no call here. The PBUC Umpire Manual clear states (3.16) that the umpires not insist that he play with both feet in fair territory unless the offensive team protests. In that case, the ruling should be enforced against both teams. If a 1st baseman persists, the only penalty would be ejection.

Runners in first and second base, there is an attempt by the runner in second base to steal third base, the catcher attempts to make the play at third but when he makes his throw to third base it hit the batter's bat who had remained in the batter's box after the pitch has been delivered. The ball goes into the home team's dugout and the runners advance on base. I argued that there was an interference by the batter as it prevented, unaware perchance, the play taken place at second. What is you view of it? Was the umpire right in allowing the runners to advance one base or does the ball become dead when it hit the batter? please e-mail me your answer as soon as you can as we have put the game under protest and have three days in which we must go ahead with the appeal or retire our protest.
Pedro Figueras
London, United Kingdom - 6/14/10

The umpire is mostly correct. The batter can not de-materialize. If the batter holds his position in the box, it is up to the catcher to make a proper throw. The ball remains live until it goes out of play. The runner is awarded 2 bases.

A player was ejected from the game. Is it an automatic out each time his turn at bat comes up? What exceptions to the rule are there i.e. injuries. Thanks Steve. Great site.
Mark Davis
Oxford, Michigan - 6/12/10

An ejected player must be replaced. Under Pro rules, if there is no replacement available, the game is a forfeit.
Some leagues modify the rules to allow a team to play with 8. Some provide for an automatic out each time the spot comes up, others provide for an automatic out the first time the spot comes up only. Check with the league. I've never heard of an injury exception.

Runners on 1B and 3B, with two outs. Ground ball is hit to 2B. Fielder tags out runner going to 2B after runner from 3B has crossed HP. Does the run count? I'm thinking no, but need to be sure.
Dave Beste
Brookings, SD - 5/26/10

It's still a force out and the run does not score.

Sharp hit ball down 1st base line, bounds off 1st baseman's gloves and rolls in to foul territory. 1st baseman retrieves and with ball in glove reaches to touch 1st base with free hand. Safe or out? And would this apply to any other force at any base?
Ron Mitchell
Westminster, South Carolina, USA - 5/24/10

Out if he beats the batter-runner to 1st base, and yes.

Can an outfielder catch a ball by the fence and fall over the breakaway fence - is it an out or homerun?
John Deutsch
Annanadale, NJ - 5/17/10

If the ball is caught and the outfielder falls over the fence in possession, it's a catch.; If the pushes his way through the fence and then makes the catch, it's a HR.

What is the penalty for illegal defensive substitution? Example: 2 players in the same batting position on the field at the same time.
Andrew Bettinger
Richmond, VA - 5/11/10

The illegal substitute would be ejected upon discovery. If he was discovered directly after being involved in a play, the opposing coach would have the choice of taking the play or the batter batting again.

The infield huddled at the pitcher mound and went back to their positions. The 2nd baseman has the ball hidden in his glove. The pitcher is on the pitcher's mound. Believe he was on the rubber. The runner leads off of 2nd base waiting to steal. The 2nd baseman tags the runner and umpire calls him out. The coaches from the other team tells the umpire the pitcher was on the pitcher mound, therefore, the out is not valid. Is this true?
Hollie Vestel
Jacksonville, FL/USA - 4/21/10

Under HS rules, if he is on or astride the rubber or within approx. 5 feet of the of the rubber without the ball it is a balk and the runner is not out. (6-2-5)

Runner going from 1st to 2nd on a hit to to shortstop. SS throws to 2nd baseman, runner goes in straight up and then 2nd has to throw a lob to 1st. I need a ruling on sliding, according to high school rules.
McKinney, Texas - 4/10/10

The runner never has to slide. However, if the runner causes the pivot man to alter his throw, it is interference. The runner and the batter-runner are both out.

On a tag up for a fly ball, the runner can leave the base once the ball is touched or caught? What if the ball hits the fielders glove and bounces in the air and then he catches it. Can that runner advance on the touch or does he have to wait for fielder to have control?
Bill Bridgham
Pleasant Garden, NC - 4/7/10

On the touch.

Runners on 1st & 2nd, 1 out. Batter swings and hits a spinning dribbler down first base line very close to line. First baseman sprinting in gets to ball and kicks ball into first base dugout while ball is still in FOUL territory. The ball would have definitely gone fair had it not bee touched foul. Call foul ball, batter returns to box with 1-2 count and runners return base at time of pitch. Offensive coach says ball cannot be intentionally kick out of bounds if it could have become a fair ball.
Gary Shafer
Canbridge City, Indiana - 3/18/10

This is legal. Once that ball is touched in any manner in foul territory by the defense, it is a foul ball.

About the February rules answer. "Bases loaded, one out and a 1 and 1 count.  The runner on third gets a good jump and tries to steal home. As he slides over the plate, the pitch hits him in the strike zone and bounces a few feet away. The catcher recovers in time to nail the runner from second trying for third." Suppose the pitch is actually the third strike, which would have recorded the third out of the inning. Does the run still count?
Manassas, VA - 3/1/10

No. With 2 strikes and 2 out, the pitch is strike 3 and the half-inning is over. (6.05n)

What happens if a player is listed twice on the line up card and it isn't caught at the beginning of the game? It means that one player is not on the line up card. If that player comes up and gets a hit and then an appeal is made, does the hit count?
Templeton, California - 2/11/10

This is a correctable error and should be picked up by the plate umpire at the pre-game conference. That is one of the main reasons he looks over the line-up cards. That being said, I do not believe this is specifically covered anywhere, which leaves it up to the umpire to make a ruling - 9.03(c). If the player comes up, gets a hit and an appeal is made, I would deny it. There is no definitive batting out of order here. If the opposing manager waits until the batter should be coming up again in a second spot in the order and an appeal is made, it is still denied since the offense can legally put up the correct batter. In the unlikely event the player comes up a second time in a second spot in the order and completes his turn at bat and then an appeal is made, I would grant the appeal. However, I can't see this ever actually happening.

I was recently told by an academy coach that NFHS rules do not allow the top edge of the pitcher's glove to be above chin level when he comes to his set position. Is this true, false, or a gray area?
Lee Flippin
Woodside, California - 2/3/10SteveO

Years ago the rules stated that the entire glove had to be below the chin. Currently, only a portion of the glove must be below the chin.

Created February 14, 2010
Steve Orinick is not liable in any way for any event or situation whatsoever arising from these responses, including errors, omissions or negative consequences, perceived or otherwise. All answers are purely personal opinion. Proceed at your own risk! Check with your local association for specific interpretations.
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