Friday, May 12, 2023

Infielder's Throw Hits Umpire on Play at 1st Base

Gwinett Stripers batter Yolmer Sanchez picked up an unusual infield single when Nashville Sounds third baseman Cam Devanney's throw to first base hit 1B Umpire Reed Basner...who was running in front of first base as the throw came in. Let's talk about the umpire interference rule as well as mechanics in a crew of three—why was he there?

Umpire interference is defined in both Official Baseball Rule 5.06(c)(2) and OBR 6.01(f) Comment. It occurs under just two specific circumstances:

"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."

Because the case of a non-catcher fielder throwing to retire a runner after a batted ball does not apply, there is no "Time" call to make or out/base to award: the ball is live and the runner, in this case, is safe.

As for the question of why the umpire was inside to begin with, the answer may well have to do with three-person mechanics wherein the 1B Umpire comes into the infield on a base hit to the outfield. Thus, with this batted ball grounded to the back corner of the infield along the left field line, the umpire may have erroneously thought the ball had made its way to the outfield and, thus, it was time to pivot in front of first base.

Unfortunately, the ball was fielded by the third baseman whose long throw to retire the runner ended up hitting the umpire instead.


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