Test your Ump knowledge on these two scenarios!!
Courtesy of Mike Robinson & Mike Courtney
UICs- NH Little League District 1
Runner on second base. A ground ball is batted toward 3rd base which is fielded by the 3rd base fielder. The shortstop backs-up the 3rd baseman in the event the 3rd baseman fails to make a play on the ball. After the ball is hit, the runner on second advances to third behind the 3rd baseman and in front of the shortstopp, and while doing so, the 3rd baseman errs in fielding the batted ball and the ball goes under his legs, which hits the advancing runner before the shortstop has a chance to make a play while backing up the 3rd baseman. Make the call.
Basic understanding of the rule:
On a typical play, if a batted ball makes contact with a base runner before the fielder has a chance to make a play on the ball, the runner is out. As well, if a batted ball makes contact with a base runner after the fielder has a chance to make a play on the ball, the runner is not out. But what if the shortstop, who was backing-up the play, could have made a play on the ball? Is the runner out?
Runner is NOT out. Ball remains in play.
“7.08 – Any runner is out when –
(f) touched by a fair ball in fair territory before the ball has touched or passed an infielder…”
The key word in the rule citation is “an”, meaning “one” infielder. The rule does not state “all” infielders. Therefore, as long as the ball touches or passes at least one infielder, regardless if another infielder can make a play on the ball, and that batted ball touches a runner, the runner is NOT out and the ball remains in play.
Runner on 3rd. A batted ball is fielded by the 1st baseman and runner on 3rd advances to score. The 1st baseman throws the ball to the catcher to make the tag. The catcher is not blocking the plate, but is standing on the plate or has a foot on the plate. Subsequently, the runner touches home plate and in the process, steps on the foot of the catcher, thus making contact with the catcher and in the judgment of the umpire, the runner fails to avoid contact with the catcher. The runner does not slide in the process. Make the call.
Runner is OUT.
“7.08 - Any runner is out when –
- (3) the runner does not slide or attempt to get around a fielder who has the ball and is waiting to make the tag.”
There is a common misconception that runners always have to slide. As the rule clearly states, however, such is not the case. If, in the judgment of the umpire, the runner “attempts” to get around a fielder who has the ball and is waiting to make the tag, the runner does not have to slide and the runner is NOT out. Also, the rule does not mandate that the runner is out for making contact with the fielder. So long as, in the judgment of the umpire, the runner attempts to avoid contact, which could be interpreted something as simple as reaching with an outstretched leg – even of contact is made – the runner is NOT out, by virtue of the rule.
What if the fielder (catcher) does NOT have the ball and NOT waiting to make the tag and the runner makes contact with the fielder (catcher) – is the runner out? ABSOLUTELY NOT. The rule clearly states that the fielder (catcher) must have the ball and [is] waiting to make the tag. Otherwise, the runner is not out for making contact. (Of course, if the runner lowers his shoulder and plows into the catcher just because he happens to be in the way, the umpire could and should call the runner OUT for unsportsmanlike conduct and eject the runner from the game. Thankfully, that kind of stuff doesn’t happen in Bedford Little League.