How Would You Rule? – I

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.

Beer Night in Cleveland

June 4, 1974: Texas Rangers at Cleveland Indians. Beer Night (10 cents a cup) draws 25,134 at Municipal Stadium.

Situation: Bottom of ninth, 5-5 score. Indian runners on first and third with two out.

As Jack Brohamer prepares to bat, two youths jump from the right field stands intending to steal the cap of Texas RF Jeff Burroughs. As Burroughs fights them off, others leap onto the field. Both the Ranger and Indian teams rush to help Jeff. While the players fight 50 or so spectators, a metal folding chair is tossed onto the field, hitting Indian P Tom Hilgendorf on the head and shoulder. Burroughs jams a thumb, Texas pitching coach Art Fowler and P Steve Foucault are punched in the eye, and Umpire Nestor Chylak is cut on the right wrist. After ten minutes, order is restored. The Rangers return to their positions, and the runners retake their bases. However, as the remaining Rangers walk across the infield to their dugout, another fight breaks out near the pitching mound. It is finally broken up. When all players and umpires reach the safety of the dugouts, Chylak forfeits the game to the Rangers because the home team did not "provide police protection sufficient to preserve order." What is the final score of the game and do individual statistics from the contest count?

References: Hangover Looms from Beer Melee and The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi

Timeout before HR

August 28 , 1960: Chicago White Sox at Baltimore Orioles in Memorial Stadium.

Situation: Top of the eighth inning, two on. Baltimore leading 3-1.

Ted Kluszewski hits a three-run pinch hit homer off Milt Pappas to put the White Sox ahead 4-3. However, third base umpire Ed Hurley says he called "time" as Pappas was in his pitching motion because players warming up to enter the game were not in the proper bull pen area. So Hurley nullifies the homer. White Sox manager Al Lopez protests on the grounds that Pappas was already in his motion when time was called and rule 6.02(b) states: "The batter shall not leave his position in the batter's box after the pitcher comes to a set position or starts his windup." The White Sox also argue that once the pitcher starts his motion, only the home plate umpire can call time. Because Kluszewski eventually flies out and Chicago loses 3-1, the protest is filed with American League president Joe Cronin. Should Cronin uphold the protest?

Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi

Baserunner Obstruction

June 24, 2007: Chicago Cubs vs Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park.

Situation: Top of the eighth inning, Felix Pie on second, Angel Pagan on first.

Mark DeRosa hits a long fly off the right field wall. While heading past second on his way to third, Pagan bumps into SS Juan Uribe. Both the second and third base umpires signal obstruction but allow the play to proceed. RF Rob Mackowiak throws toward home but the cutoff man, Paul Konerko, intercepts and throws to second to catch Pagan heading back to the bag after he sees Pie staying at third. Pie then breaks for home and is thrown out in a rundown. What should the umpires do, if anything, about the obstruction call on Uribe?

Reference: "Baseball Rules Corner," Baseball Digest, Oct/Nov 2007, Rich Marazzi

Coach Out of the Box

July 13, 1956: Chicago White Sox vs Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Situation: Bottom of the eighth inning, Ted Williams coming to bat.

First base coach Del Baker moves three feet in back of the coaching box. Responding to White Sox manager Marty Marion's protest, home plate umpire John Rice orders Baker to return to the box. However, first base ump Bill Summers, concerned about Baker's safety with the left-handed Williams at bat, tells Baker he may stay behind the box.

In the top of the ninth, White Sox third base coach George Myatt moves out of the coaching box within a foot of third base to try to pick up catcher Sammy White's signals. Should the umpires allow this?

Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi

Ball Lost in Windbreaker

1929: Cincinnati Reds vs Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Situation: Bottom of the eighth inning, bases loaded. Kenneth Penner is warming up for the Cubs in their bullpen down the LF line.

Norm McMillan hits a line drive that inside the third base bag that immediately curves into foul territory. LF Evar Swanson runs over to retrieve the ball but loses sight of it as it goes into an open gutter running along the base of the stands. When he reaches the bullpen, he does not see the ball as the runners round the bases. He spots Penner's windbreaker lying on the ground. He shakes it but nothing comes out. By this time, the batter and all three base runners have crossed home plate.

When the inning ends, Penner picks up his jacket and starts to put his right hand through the sleeve. He then encounters an object – the missing ball.

Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi

ARod Yells "Hah"

May 30, 2007: New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays

Situation: Top of ninth; Hideki Matsui on second, Alex Rodriguez on first with two outs and leading 7-5.

Jorge Posada hits a high popup between 3B Howie Clark and SS John McDonald. Running with the swing with two outs, ARod yells "Hah" between second and third. McDonald thinks he hears "Mine" and defers to Clark. As a result, the ball falls untouched. Matsui scores, and Posada is credited with an RBI base hit.

McDonald is so mad he has to be restrained. He and skipper John Gibbons argue that ARod's call confused the fielders, and either ARod or the batter should be called out.

Reference: Baseball Digest, September 2007

Time Wasn't Called

June 8, 1938: New York Giants @ Chicago Cubs

Situation: Top of fifth; Giant runner on second; P Carl Hubbell at-bat.

Hubbell hits a single. The play at the plate is close, but umpire Beans Reardon calls the runner safe. This sets off an argument by the Cubs. During the chaos, Hubbell, noticing that time out has not been called, takes off for second. P Clay Bryant grabs the ball from his arguing C Bob Garbark but throws the ball into CF. Hubbell winds up on third.

Reardon orders Hubbell back to first, claiming that he called "time" when the argument started. Now the Giants join the rhubarb, insting that time had not been called. They appeal to the other umpires, Larry Goetz and Babe Pinelli, neither of whom heard Reardon call time.

Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi

He Ran on Strike 3

September 22, 1954: Cincinnati Reds @ Milwaukee Braves

Situation: Top of ninth, Braves lead 3-1, Gus Bell on 2B, Wally Post on 1B with one out.

Bob Borkowski strikes out on a wild pitch from Warren Spahn. C Del Crandall retrieves the ball and throws to third to try to catch Bell. Meanwhile Borkowski runs to first. 3B Eddie Mathews takes Crandall's peg and throws to first. The ball hits Borkowski in the back and rolls into RF. Bell and Post score on the play.

How would you rule?

Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi

Glove to Wall to Glove

June 5, 2007: Cincinnati Reds @ St. Louis Cardinals

Situation: Top of fifth, runner on first, two outs

Adam Dunn drives the ball toward LF Chris Duncan who gloves the ball briefly before it pops out and hits the wall. However, it bounces right back into Duncan's glove where he now secures the ball.

How would you rule?

Reference: "Baseball Rules Corner," Baseball Digest, March/April 2008

Triple Play Without Touching Ball

Situation: Bases loaded, no outs

How can the team in the field get a triple play without touching the ball?

Thanks to my friend Richard for suggesting this situation.

Error or Sacrifice Fly?

1957: Cleveland Indians vs Detroit Tigers

Situation: Roger Maris of Cleveland at bat with Al Smith on third and Joe Altobelli on first with less than two outs.

Maris hits a long fly to RF. Al Kaline goes back to the fence and drops the ball. Smith tags up and scores. Altobelli also tags up but Kaline throws him out at second. Maris ends up on first.

If you were the official scorer, would you: (a) Charge Kaline with an error? (b) Credit Maris with a sacrifice fly?

Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi

Infield Falls Asleep

This situation happened in a high school game in April 2008.

Situation: The batter hits a triple with less than two outs in a tie game. The third baseman ends up with the ball and joins the C, P, and other infielders in a conference near 2B on how to play the next hitter. The runner on third, realizing that time had not been called, races home. The umpires uphold the run.

How should this play be scored? (a) Give the batter a HR. (b) Credit the runner with a triple and a stolen base. (c) Give the C an error for not covering home.

Dropped Infield Fly

June 3, 1956: First game of a doubleheader between the Braves and Pirates at Milwaukee

Situation: None out in Milwaukee half of ninth inning, Bobby Thomson on second, Bill Bruton on first, Frank Torre at bat.

Torre hits a short fly to CF. Seeing SS Dick Groat move out under the ball, umpire Augie Donatelli signals that Torre is out on the infield fly rule. However, Groat drops the ball. Thomson heads for third. Groat throws to 3B Gene Freese who steps on the bag before Thomson arrives. Meanwhile, Bruton advances to second.

How would you rule concerning Thomson, Bruton, and Torre?

Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi

Misses First on Homer

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

Situation: Runner on second, two outs.

The batter hits a home run. However, the team in the field successfully appeals that the batter missed first base. How many runs count?

Correct/Incorrect Rulings

Here are questions from Rich Marazzi's "Baseball Rules Corner" in the May 2008 issue of Baseball Digest. In each case, decide whether the ruling that is stated is Correct or Incorrect.

      1. A fly ball strikes an outfielder's glove and goes over the fence in fair territory. Ruling: The batter is awarded two bases.
      2. The pitcher fields a slow roller and throws the ball to the first baseman, who smothers the ball in his arm pit for three seconds. Ruling: The batter is out.
      3. A fielder tries to make a throw from the dugout, but the ball slips out of his hand and drops to the floor of the dugout. Ruling: All runners are awarded two bases from their base position at the start of the play.
Catcher Interference before Run Scores
Situation: Runner on third, one out.

The batter hits a ground ball to the second baseman who throws the batter out at first while the runner on third scores. However, the home plate umpire rules that the catcher interfered with the batter's swing.

What should happen?

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

How Many Earned Runs?

The following inning occurred in a high school baseball game.

Leadoff batter: Double to left
Batter 2: Bunt single down third base line, runner to third
Batter 3: Grounder to second booted, run scores. E4
Batter 4: Bunts, all safe when P throws to 3rd too late
Batter 5: Forceout at second 6-4, run scores
Batter 6: Pop up to first
Batter 7: Single to right drives in one run, puts runners on 1st and 3rd
Batter 8: Hit by pitcher
Batter 9: Single to CF plates two
Batter 10: Flies to right

Summary: 5 runs, 3 hits, 1 error, 2 LOB

How many of the runs are earned?

Catches Ball in Mask

The following situation occurred in a minor league game in July, 1972.

The squeeze is on, but the batter misses the pitch. The C starts chasing the trapped runner back toward 3B. As the C flips the ball to the third baseman, he removes his mask with his right hand. The third baseman quickly tosses the ball back to the C, but the throw is to his right. So the C reaches out and stops the ball with the mask. The runner is tagged out.

Was the out legally recorded?

Most Hits without Scoring

What is the most hits a team can get in an inning without scoring a run? Explain how your answer can happen.

How Many Earned Runs?

Situation: Runner on first, no outs.

The batter hits a ground ball to the SS, who throws to second for one out. The relay throw to first hits the second base umpire and prevents a double play. Which one of the following is the correct call?

(A) The batter is ruled out because of umpire interference.
(B) The ball is dead; time is called. The batter is awarded first base.
(C) If the first base umpire thinks the throw would have beaten the runner, he can call the batter out.
(D) The ball remains alive and in play.

Adapted from the final exam at the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring