How Would You Rule? – III

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

Infield Fly Rule

July 25, 1961: St. Louis Cardinals @ Chicago Cubs

Situation: Bottom of second. One out. Ron Santo on second, Jerry Kindall on first. Ed Bouchee at bat.

Bouchee pops up to 2B Julian Javier. The umpire calls the infield fly rule. However, Javier drops the ball. Then he recovers the horsehide and throws to 3B Ken Boyer, who steps on third base. Santo, believing he has been retired to end the inning, starts toward the dugout. Cardinal P Ray Sadecki yells to Boyer, who tags Santo when Ron tries to return to the bag.

Was Boyer's tag of Santo necessary or was Ron already out?

Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi
What Did Coach Say to Runner?

July 18, 1967: San Francisco Giants @ Pittsburgh Pirates

Situation: Top of sixth, one out. Jim Ray Hart on first. Ollie Brown at bat.

Brown lines hard to 3B Maury Wills, who stops the ball, then drops it. Hart, who had been leading off first, takes off for second when he sees Wills drop the ball. 3B umpire Augie Donatelli calls Brown out. Wills throws to first to double off Hart but heaves the ball into the stands.

Giants manager Herman Franks runs out to Donatelli to argue that Wills did not have possession of the ball. Hart, who continued all the way to third, joins the argument. Donatelli tells Franks to get off the field because the play is still in progress. He explains that he awards Hart third base on the overthrow but Brown is out.

Franks is confused, thinking he has been ejected from the game. However, third base coach Charlie Fox tells him that he isn't. Franks then exits the field while Fox talks to Hart. What sound advice do you think Fox gave his baserunner?

Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi
Does the Run Count?

August 22, 1957: Boston Red Sox @ Cleveland Indians

Situation: Top of ninth, one out. Gene Mauch on second, Pete Daley on first. Mike Fornieles batting.

Fornieles hits a sinking liner to CF. Since it looks like a sure hit, the runners take off with the hit. However, aided by a strong wind blowing in from CF, SS Chico Carrasquel makes a spectacular running catch. When Chico turns around, he doesn't see Mauch crossing home but does spot Daley scrambling to return around 2B to 1B. Carrasquel throws to first to double Daley to retire the side.

Does Mauch's run count?

Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi
Does the Run Count?

June 15, 1958: Columbus vs Buffalo in a AAA game

Situation: Columbus batting with two out in the first inning; Bill Causion on first; Paul Pettit at bat.

With Causion running on the pitch, Pettit doubles. C Joe Astroth stands just in front of home plate while waiting for the relay from SS Bobby Morgan. As Astroth leaps for the ball, he trips Causion, causing him to stumble and miss home. After catching the ball, Astroth tags Causion before he can touch the plate.

Is Causion out? If not, does Pettit get an RBI?

Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi
How Many Earned Runs?

October 9, 1949 – World Series Game 5: New York Yankees @ Brooklyn Dodgers

Situation: Top of the first; Rex Barney pitching for Brooklyn.

How many earned runs did the Yankees get in the first inning, which went as follows?

  • SS Phil Rizzuto walks.
  • 1B Tommy Henrich walks.
  • Barney tries to pick off Rizzuto on second but throws wildly into CF. Rizzuto goes to third and Henrich to second.
  • C Yogi Berra strikes out.
  • CF Joe DiMaggio flies out to deep CF, Duke Snider making a leaping catch against the wall. Rizzuto scores and Henrich goes to third.
  • 3B Bobby Brown singles through the box, scoring Henrich.
  • LF Gene Woodling walks.
  • RF Cliff Mapes is called out on strikes.
Bat Splinter Interferes

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

A large splinter of the hitter's broken bat sails toward the third baseman and prevents him from making a play on a batted ball.

True or false? The batter is called out for interference, and any runners return to the bases occupied at the time of the pitch.

Fielder Deflects Ball into Foul Pole

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

The batter hits a long fly ball near the right-field foul pole. The right fielder leaps to catch the ball. He touches the ball in fair territory and deflects it into the foul pole above the fence. What is the proper call?

(A) Foul ball.
(B) Ground rule double.
(C) Home run.
(D) The ball remains in play.

Two Runners Arrive Home Together

August 2, 2008: New York Mets @ Houston Astros

Situation: Bottom of ninth. Mets leading 4-2. Bases loaded, one out. Mark Loretta on 3rd, Hunter Pence on 2nd. PH Geoff Blum at bat.

Blum hits a line drive to LF that Fernando Tatis plays on one hop. Loretta waits to see if the ball drops. However, Pence runs with the crack of the bat. As Loretta finally begins to move after stumbling, he and Pence race home a few feet apart. As C Ramon Castro is about to receive the throw from the OF, Loretta crashes into him, knocking the ball away. Both runners touch the plate to tie the game.

Question #1: If Castro had received the throw with his foot on the plate, could Loretta have been called out for interference when he bowled Castro over and could Pence have been declared out also?

Question #2: Suppose Castro caught the ball with his foot on home plate before Loretta slid in. Could Pence still have scored?

Question #3: If Pence was about to pass Loretta between third and home after Loretta stumbled, could Pence have pushed or carried Loretta toward home?

Reference: "Baseball Rules Corner," Rick Marazzi, Baseball Digest, October/November 2008

Triple Play?

April 5, 1974 (Opening Night): Pittsburgh Pirates @ St. Louis Cardinals

Situation: Bottom of 10th in 5-5 tie. None out. Bases loaded – Jim Dwyer on third, Tim McCarver on second, Jose Cruz on first. Lou Brock at bat

Brock hits a liner that is trapped by Gene Clines in shallow RF. 1B umpire Lee Weyer gives the safe sign indicating no catch. Clines quickly throws to C Mike Ryan, retiring Dwyer at the plate. McCarver, not seeing Weyer's safe sign, heads back to second and is forced out when Ryan throws to Richie Hebner at 3B.

First base coach Johnny Lewis urges Cruz to stay on first, where he is joined by Brock. Meanwhile, Hebner throws to 2B Rennie Stennett, who tags McCarver as he returns to second. Umpire Satch Davidson gives no out sign since Stennett is not on the bag. Manager Danny Murtaugh of the Pirates comes out to ask why the side wasn't out. In the confusion, Cruz sneaks down to second. At that point, time is called.

Does Cruz stay at second and Brock at first?

Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi


August 7, 1956: Philadelphia Phillies @ New York Giants

Situation: Top of eighth. Richie Ashburn on 2nd with one out. Marv Blaylock at bat.

Blaylock singles to CF. Ashburn rounds third and slams into C Wes Westrum as the Giant C reaches for a high throw from Jackie Brandt. Both Westrum and Ashburn tumble to the ground beyond home plate. While lying on top of Ashburn, Westrum calls for the ball from P Hoyt Wilhelm, who backed up the throw. Wilhelm tosses it to Wes, who, while still on the ground, turns and tags Ashburn as the Phillie CF lunges toward home.

Home plate umpire Vic Delmore yells "out." This brings out Phils' manager Mayo Smith, who argues that Westrum obstructed Ashburn's attempt to touch the plate. Does Smith have a case?

Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi

Fair or Foul?

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

The batter squares around and bunts the ball directly onto home plate. However, before he can move, the ball bounces up and strikes the bat a second time over foul territory.

Is the ball fair or foul?


Some True/False questions to test your knowledge of the rules.

  1. A fielder has secure possession of the ball but drops it after making immediate contact with the ground or wall. He still gets credit for the catch.
  2. A fielder is allowed to make a catch, carry the ball into the dugout and make a throw from the dugout as long as he remains on his feet.
  3. When catcher's interference is called, the ball should be ruled dead immediately, and the batter-runner and all runners are awarded one base.

"Baseball Rules Corner," Rick Marazzi, Baseball Digest, May 2008