Monday, September 6, 2021

Batter's Intentional Deflection of Foul Ball Results in Out

During Thursday's Emeralds-Hops (MiLB) game, HP Umpire Nathan Diederich ruled Hillsboro batter Ronny Simon out after the batter intentionally deflected the course of a foul ball hit along the first base line. Was this the correct call, and what is the relevant rule?

Officially scored a ground out to Ems catcher Brett Auerbach, Simon hit Eugene pitcher Jasier Herrera's 0-1 offering into the dirt to the right of home plate and into foul territory just beyond the left-handed batter's box where Simon was standing. Simon then took a swing at the ball with his bat and in doing so made contact with the baseball as catcher Auerbach looked to the umpire for a ruling.

Umpire Diederich immediately ruled Simon out pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(9), which states, "After hitting or bunting a ball that continues to move over foul territory, he intentionally deflects the course of the ball in any manner while running to first base. The ball is dead and no runners may advance," and explained this call to the offensive manager.

The cross-reference for this rule is interference OBR 6.01(a)(2), which provides that the batter or runner is out for interference for intentionally deflecting the ball "in any manner," as above. The MLB Umpire Manual, for instance, makes the case that a base coach can legally retrieve a foul ball after it passes first or third base, but "should not touch a ball that possibly may go fair."

Video as follows:


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