How Would You Rule? – II

You are presented with a situation that actually occurred or might occur in a game. To play along, decide how you would rule. Then click the button to find out what either the umpires or the official scorer actually decided.

Double Obstruction

May 21, 1955: Boston Red Sox @ Washington Senators

Situation: Top of twelfth; Jackie Jensen on first with two out; Mickey McDermott pitching.

Lefty McDermott picks Jensen off first. Jackie makes a break for second, starting a rundown. As he tries to return to first, he is blocked by 1B Mickey Vernon. 2B umpire Ed Runge calls obstruction but doesn't make any gestures to allow the other umps to see what he has done. Angry about Vernon's getting in his way, Jensen, a former All-American RB, charges into McDermott, who tries to put the tag on him at 1B. Jensen pushes McDermott down, knocking the ball loose. 1B umpire Hank Soar (also a former football player) calls Jensen out for interference.

Jensen and McDermott scuffle, causing both of them to be ejected. When the dust settles, senior umpire Bill Summers huddles with his cohorts.

Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi
Batter Hit While Striking Out

July 3, 2008: Oklahoma Red Hawks @ New Orleans Zephyrs

Situation: Bottom of ninth, game tied 3-3. Zephyrs have the bases loaded and one out. The batter has two strikes on him.

The next pitch is a curve breaking into the left-handed batter. He swings and misses, but the ball hits his midsection and bounces to the screen. All runners advance. The crowd rejoices because their Zs have won the game.

Is the Run Earned?

October 11, 1948: World Series Game 6 – Cleveland Indians @ Boston Braves

Situation: Cleveland leading the Series 3 games to 2. Top of sixth, game tied 1-1. Bill Voiselle on the mound for Boston.

The Indians sixth goes as follows.

  • 2B Joe Gordon leads off with a HR into the LF bleachers.
  • 3B Ken Keltner fouls out to 3B Bob Elliott.
  • CF Thurman Tucker walks.
  • 1B Eddie Robinson singles to right. Tucker goes to third.
  • C Jim Hegan grounds to Elliott who forces Robinson at second. 2B Eddie Stanky's throw to first beats Hegan but is too high, and 1B Earl Torgeson can't hold it. Tucker scores on the play.
  • P Bob Lemon grounds to Torgeson unassisted.

Is Cleveland's second run earned?

In case you're curious, Cleveland won the game 4-3 to take the Series in six.

Is It Interference?

June 25, 1995: Oakland Athletics @ Texas Rangers

Situation: Top of the first, Rickey Henderson on 2B, Stan Javier on first, and Mark McGwire at the plate.

McGwire singles to left. LF Rusty Greer fields the ball and fires home. Henderson slides in safely as C Ivan Rodriguez bobbles the throw. Before Henderson gets up after scoring, he notices the ball on the ground by him and nudges it. Then Rodriguez picks it up and throws to third to try to get Javier. However, his throw is too late.

Reference: "Baseball Rules Corner," Rich Marazzi, Baseball Digest, August 2008

Throw into Stands

The following is a sample final exam question from the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring.

Situation: Runner on first, two outs.

A grounder is hit to the SS whose throw to first sails into the stands. The runner who was on first reached second at the time of the throw, but the batter had not reached first. Where should the umpire place the runners at the play's conclusion?

(A) Runner on second, batter on first.
(B) Runner on third, batter on second.
(C) Runner scores, batter on second.
(D) Runner on third, batter on first.

Broken Bat Hits Ball

1952: Oklahoma City @ Houston in a Texas League game

Situation: Houston's Bud Hardin breaks his bat into two pieces when he hits a grounder down the third base line. As Frank Shofner,Oklahoma City 3B, waits for the ball, the big part of the bat, spinning toward him, hits the ball again, sending it into the stands.

Who Bats Next?

September 5, 1958: Los Angeles Dodgers @St. Louis Cardinals

Situation: Top of eighth: Junior Gilliam on 3B with two out, 3-and-1 count on Gil Hodges. Gilliam attempts to steal home as Phil Paine pitches to Hodges. However, Junior is tagged out at the plate by C Gene Green.

In the top of the ninth, Steve Bilko steps to the plate for the Dodgers since he is next in the batting order behind Hodges. However, Hodges was at the plate when Gilliam was caught stealing. Who should bat?

Off His Head

May 10, 1977: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Montreal Expos

Warren Cromartie of the Expos slams a long drive. Dodger CF Rick Monday chases the ball, but it caroms off the wall, strikes Monday in the forehead, and bounces over the fence.

Two Balls in Play

June 30, 1959: St. Louis Cardinals @ Chicago Cubs

One of the most bizarre plays in baseball history took place in this game.

Situation: Cardinals' Stan Musial at bat in the fourth inning with no one on and a 3-1 count.

Bob Anderson's next pitch is in the dirt and goes to the backstop. After checking his swing, Stan the Man trots to first with a walk. Catcher Sammy Taylor ignores the ball to argue with plate umpire Vic Delmore that Musial tipped the ball. With the ball still in play, Musial starts for second. The bat boy, apparently thinking it was a foul tip, tosses the ball to field announcer Pat Pieper. 3B Alvin Dark runs in and retrieves the ball from Pieper. In the meantime, Delmore unthinkingly gives Taylor a new ball.

As Musial nears second, both Dark and Taylor throw to second base. Taylor's ball sails into CF, but SS Ernie Banks grabs Dark's peg and tags Stan. However, seeing the other ball go into the outfield, Stan heads for third as play is stopped. Delmore rules Musial out at second since Dark threw the ball that (supposedly) was in play. Both teams play the game under protest. However, when the Cards win 4-1, they drop theirs. (At the end of the season, the National League drops Delmore.)

Delmore's ruling on the play was wrong. What do you think he should have ruled?

Reference: Baseball Digest, August 2007

Musial Kicks the Ball

Spring training, 1959: St. Louis Cardinals vs Detroit Tigers

Situation: Bottom of 1st, two out, Cardinals have the bases loaded with Gino Cimoli on third, Stan Musial on second, and Joe Cunningham on first.

Hal Smith hits a hard grounder to third which bounces off Eddie Yost into the path of Musial. Stan kicks the ball and is called out by umpire Bill McKinley for interference.

Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi

Strikeout or Foul Tip?

Here is a question adapted from the final exam at the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring.

No one on base. The batter swings and misses at the 0-2 pitch. The pitch hits the catcher's shin guard, deflects into the air, and is caught before touching the ground. What is the proper ruling?

(A) Foul tip and the batter is out.
(B) Foul ball and the count remains 0-2.
(C) Strike 3 and the batter is out.
(D) Strike 3 but the batter must be tagged or thrown out at first.

Double Switch

September 17, 2007: Cincinnati Reds @ Chicago Cubs

Situation: Top of sixth.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella leaves the dugout with the intention of making a double-switch: Scott Eyre to P and Geovany Soto to C. Piniella crosses the foul line, takes three steps toward the mount, then does a U-turn in the direction of plate umpire Rick Reed. He then informs Reed of the double-switch.

Reds manager Pete Mackanin argues that Piniella had to inform Reed about the switch before he crossed the foul line. Should Reed accept his argument?

Reference: Baseball Digest, March/April 2008