Thursday, May 12, 2022

Ask UEFL - Player/Ump Collisions & Umpire Interference

After Cubs shortstop Nico Hoerner left Chicago's game against San Diego Wednesday following Hoerner's collision with 2B Umpire Dan Iassogna in pursuit of a fly ball, we were asked about interference rules in baseball pertaining to contact between a player and umpire while the ball is live and in play. It should obviously go without saying that umpires and players alike both strive to avoid running into the other—both for defensive and injury reasons—but sometimes collisions do occur and when that happens, it's important to know the rules.

Official Baseball Rule 6.01(f) Comment lists the two—and only two—general circumstances that can lead to a call of umpire interference: "Umpire’s interference occurs (1) when a plate umpire hinders, impedes or prevents a catcher’s throw attempting to prevent a stolen base or retire a runner on a pick-off play; or (2) when a fair ball touches an umpire on fair territory before passing a fielder. Umpire interference may also occur when an umpire interferes with a catcher returning the ball to the pitcher."

Umpire Interference Type 1
 occurs when a home plate umpire and catcher make contact as the catcher is attempting to retire a runner who is attempting to steal, or to attempt a pickoff throw, or to throw the ball back to the pitcher.
Prescribed Outcome: The ball remains alive until the catcher's throw arrives at its intended destination (if applicable). If the runner is retired, the interference is ignored. If the runner is not retired, the ball becomes dead and runners return to bases they held at the time of the pitch (unless forced to advance by virtue of the batter becoming a runner).

Umpire Interference Type 2
 occurs when a fair ball makes contact with an umpire who is positioned in fair territory and before the ball has passed a fielder. The pitcher is not considered a fielder for the purpose of this rule. We most often see this brand of UMP INT occur when the second base umpire is positioned on the infield with a runner (or runners) on base and a line drive hits the umpire before getting to the middle infielders.
Prescribed Outcome: The ball is dead at the moment it contacts the umpire and the batter-runner is awarded first base. All other runners return to the bases occupied at time of pitch, unless they are forced to advance by virtue of the batter becoming a runner (e.g., if this occurs when there is only a runner on third base, the runner on third base returns to third [and the batter is awarded first]; if this occurs when there is only a runner on first base, the runner on first base is awarded second base due to the batter being awarded first).

There is no interference
 when an umpire and fielder or runner collide during a batted or thrown ball other than in Type 1. Similarly, there is no interference when a thrown or pitched ball hits an umpire nor when a batted ball hits an umpire, provided (if a fair ball) it has passed a fielder.

Outcome: As such, the ball remains alive and in play. Thus, when Hoerner and Iassogna collided, the ball remained alive and batter Jurickson Profar's triple thus stood.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Rules and calls for when a player crashes into an umpire (CCS)


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