In the game of baseball, defensive players have a right to field the ball without being interfered with by the batter or base runner. In order to guarantee that right, the rules of baseball have clear rules with harsh penalties for runner interference. The rules for interference are found in rule 7.09 of the official Major League Baseball rule book. In general, the penalty for interference applies only to the runner performing the illegal act, but at times, umpires can extend penalties to other base runners. When interference happens, the play stops and the ball is immediately dead.
Running to First Base
The markings on the baseball field include a running lane that runs outside the first base line the last 45 feet before the base. The rules of baseball mandate that the batter run in that lane while on his way to first base. While it is not called every time a runner is inside the baseline and not in that running lane, if there is a bunt or a ball hit out in front of home plate, or a throw from a catcher to complete a double play, that runner has to be in that lane. If he is not, he will be called out for interference whether the play is made on him or not.
One of baseball's most dangerous plays is the potential breaking up of a double play by a base runner. A runner is allowed to make it difficult for a defense to turn two, but the runner has to slide directly into the base, or at least within reasonable distance of it. He can not swerve or slide way out of his way to interfere with the turning of a double play, and he can not go in standing up unless he swerves way out of the way. This type of interference results in the runner being called out, and if the umpire determines that the interference was done to intentionally stop a double play, the hitter will be called out as well. Also, if a runner interferes with a fielder trying to play a ball in a potential double play situation, the umpire can rule the runner out and the lead runner out because of the interference. A team is not allowed to score a run on a play when runner interference is called.
A base runner can be called out for interference if he intentionally leaves his base line to get in the way of a thrown or batted ball. He can also be called out for interference if he makes contact with a fielder who is involved in making a play. It is the responsibility of the runner to avoid contact with a fielder who is making a move to get to a batted ball. If a batted ball strikes a base runner before it reaches the fielders, the runner is automatically out for interference.
Interference can also be called on a base coach in situations that involve a base runner. A base coach is not allowed to touch a base runner during the course of live play, so if a coach reaches out and touches a player to help him stop and return to a base, the runner will be called out for interference. A base coach can also be called for interference if he leaves his coaching box to simulate a base runner in order to deceive the defense.
- MLB.com: Official Rules: 7.00 The Runner
- "2010 Baseball Official Regulations and Playing Rules"; Little League Baseball; 2010
- Photo Credit baseball shortstop image by steven hendricks from Fotolia.com
How to Score Rare Plays in Baseball
With the advent of electronic scoreboards, keeping score in baseball has become less common than it was in the past. However, keeping...
Softball & Baseball Rules for Orange Safety Bags
At the youth level, sports should be entertaining and competitive, but safety should also be emphasized. In youth softball and baseball, one...
Baseball Rules on Catcher's Interference
The game of baseball is full of little rules that come into play only every so often. And while some of these...