Poll: Hey, Blue! No. 017

The pitcher steps off with his pivot foot, turns and makes a pick off attempt to first base that bounces away from the first baseman toward dead ball territory. As the first base coach is yelling for the runner on first to run, the first baseman gets up and scrambles to retrieve the ball in an attempt to get to it before it trickles out of play, but he gets tangled up with the base coach, who is trying to avoid being run over by the first baseman. As a result, the first baseman reaches the ball just after R1 has reached second base and after the ball entered dead ball territory.

  • The base ump rules interference on the base coach and calls out R1
  • The base ump rules interference on the base coach and returns R1 to first and the batter is out.
  • The base ump awards R1 second base only, because had the base coach not gotten in the way, the runner would have only reached second and the first baseman would have reached the ball before it went out of play.
  • The base ump awards R1 third base on the failed pick-off attempt because the ball went out of play.

The correct answer is that the base umpire ignores the “interference” by the base coach because he was doing his job and also made a legitimate effort to avoid the contact. See Rule 5.08 for clarification. Because the pitcher stepped off before making the throw, he became an infielder. A first throw by an infielder that goes out of play results in a two base award from the time of the pitch. That puts R1 on 3rd base. Had the pitcher simply turned and thrown to first from the rubber, the award would have only been one base.


I was really struggling between the 3rd and 4th choice. I knew interference would not have come into play, but wasn’t sure about the whether the ump could take any of tangle up into account as part of his judgement.

I do enjoy these even though I get most of them wrong.

I mostly do these because every day I run into people who argue calls, but have no true understanding of the rules used to make the calls. Surprising also is the fact that many umpires struggle to pass rules exams every year, so I wouldn’t just blindly accept a ruling from an umpire–although umpires have a better rate of being correct than coaches do and certainly better than the umpires in the stands.

I find a good stumper to be humbling and forces me to dig into my latest edition of the rules and read them again. I read the rule book every winter at least twice and I read it again just before my annual exam.

Any call that I don’t know instantly, I review the relevant rules pertaining to it. I recommend this as a minimum to anyone who wants to do a good job as an umpire and uphold the integrity of the game and the profession.

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I actually saw this happen in live time. I WAS the first base coach here. I was nursing a bad case of the stomach cramps with frequent trips to the locker room in between innings. My preoccupation with myself had me in my own world when the first baseman steamrolled over me - a guy who came in rug sizes 9 X 12, left me pretty banged up.

In any event, the call was exactly as CoachPaul states it. For some strange reason I was slapped on the back by a few players for helping the cause. I was amazed at how little these guys - professionals in their own right regardless where they were in the pecking order of pro ball, actually understood about the rules of the game.

Great question and rules "what if."

Here’s a beauty to think about.

A ball is hit sky high right over the skins between first and second with two outs. The wind starts to drift the ball, so the first baseman, second baseman, the pitcher (figures), and even the right fielder who is playing shallow right, all start to circle the wagons trying to call each other off.

Guess who gets sandwiched in the middle of all these guys coming together to make the catch - the runner on first who took off for second, gets stuck in a good-ole-fashion-hoedown kind of step-side-step.

The final to all this was the running bumps and skids his way around just about everybody, the infield ump gets pushed out of the way - literally, “I got it, I got it…” is like a echo with no body listing… “plop” the ball hits the ground, the runner makes it safely to second, and the runner on third scores.

The aftermath of all that had every rule in the book just about being bantered back and forth. “Obstruction”… no … “interference” … by anyone and everyone near or around the ball was up for grabs. I was just coming out of the facilities when it happened. I didn’t stick around for the call(s).

Agrh, struck out on this one. Went with C.