For an example of 5.08, we turn to 1B Umpire Andy Fletcher, who also had an ejection today. But besides Andy's disciplinary action, he was also involved in a play where Rule 5.08 had to be invoked: Ump gets hit low on pickoff throw. During this play, in which Fletcher was unfortunately hit by the thrown baseball, the crew properly kept everything alive as specified in Rule 5.08.5.08 If a thrown ball accidentally touches a base coach, or a pitched or thrown ball touches an umpire, the ball is alive and in play. However, if the coach interferes with a thrown ball, the runner is out.
Next up, in reviewing Rule 5.09(f) and Rule 6.08(d), we have to consider whether the following play qualifies under either of these rules and what to do if it does and if it does not.
5.09 The ball becomes dead and runners advance one base, or return to their bases, without liability to be put out, when— (f) A fair ball touches a runner or an umpire on fair territory before it touches an infielder including the pitcher, or touches an umpire before it has passed an infielder other than the pitcher; runners advance, if forced.
6.08 The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when— (d) A fair ball touches an umpire or a runner on fair territory before touching a fielder. If a fair ball touches an umpire after having passed a fielder other than the pitcher, or having touched a fielder, including the pitcher, the ball is in play.When 3B Umpire Mark Wegner was hit by Mariners batter Brendan Ryan's batted ball, the umpires had to consider whether this hit-by-batted-ball qualified for a dead ball under Rule 5.09 and 5.09(f) or whether it should stay alive under Rule 6.08(d). The crew correctly applied Rule 6.08(d); the fair ball clearly passed the third baseman before touching Wegner.
Last year, 2B Umpire CB Bucknor was hit by a batted ball while positioned in front of all fielders (other than the pitcher). Bucknor correctly applied Rule 5.09(f) by immediately calling "time" and declaring a dead ball, correctly awarding the batter first base.
Rule 9.05 GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS TO UMPIRES points out that it is extremely important to "BE IN POSITION TO SEE EVERY PLAY." With a 1B or 3B Umpire who must rule on fair/foul hits or pickoffs with runners on, being in position to see these plays carries the risk of getting hit by a batted or thrown ball. But even when an umpire is unfortunate enough to be struck by a ball, he must quickly discern whether to call "time" under Rule 5.09 or to let play continue under Rule 6.08. As unfortunate as getting struck by a screaming liner or bouncing wild throw may be, umpires must be vigilant at all times, and always maintain rules expertise, ready to apply any rule at a moment's (painful) notice.