Baseball Rule Seven

Baseball rule seven deals with a base runner advancing or being put out, rulings on runner obstruction and bases occupied are defined. 


7.01  This rule is self-explanatory. Still Read It!

7.02  A batter needs to touch all bases in order. If he misses a base he can return and retouch. However he must retouch in order except, obviously, on a foul ball.

Read the Jimmy Piersall Story IN THE SPOTLIGHT SECTION

  (a)(b) Two runners can’t occupy the same base. If so when the ball becomes live the trailing runner is out, of course, when he is tagged.

(The key word in this rule is FORCED)

Example:  There are men on first and second and the batter hits the ball – the runner on second doesn’t run and the runner on first runs to second. Both end up on second and the batter becomes a runner and occupies first base. The man who was originally on first is on second when the ball was pitched. He is the runner that is OUT when tagged according to baseball rule seven.

7.04  Runners can advance without being put out (one base) WHEN!

  (a) A balk is called.

  (b) A runner cannot be put out if forced to a base when a ball hits a runner or an umpire before it has passed a fielder. Read the play on rule 7.04(b) and understand the run still scores.

  (c) If a fielder catches a fly ball and falls into a dead ball territory, all runners advance one base. If the fielder does not fall down then the ball stays alive.

  (d) If a catcher interferes with a batter as a runner attempts to steal. The runner gets the base.

Note:  In baseball rule seven if a runner is entitled to a base and doesn’t touch the base and tries to advance to the next base, he can be put out on an appeal to the originally awarded base.

  (e) If a fielder touches a pitched ball with detached equipment, runner(s) are allowed one base.(equipment not in its proper place)

7.05 A runner and batter can be put out if:

  (a) On a home run hit over the fence fair, even if a fielder touches the ball or his detached equipment touches the ball, it is a HR if in the judgment of the umpire.

  (b) Baseball rule seven says three bases are awarded if a fielder deliberately throws his equipment at a fair batted ball and the equipment touches the ball if not played on. On a foul ball that in the ump’s opinion might have become fair without interference (touched by detached equipment), you can call the three base award.

Note:  Touched by detached equipment deliberately

  (b)and (c) Detached equipment does not include a fielder’s glove. (refer to 7.05b) for foul balls with no chance of being fair)

  (d) Refers to a thrown ball same as (b) except the ball is thrown and the award is two bases.

  (e) Refers to a thrown ball same as (d) and award is two bases in (c).

Note:  c and e Refer to the glove only, b and d Refer to other detached equipment. c and e magnify that a fielder whose glove detaches while making an obvious play is not penalized by the umpire awarding two or three bases.

  (f) An award of two bases is given when a batter hits a fair ball beyond first or third base and it goes out of play. Also if the ball lodges or sticks in the fence in shrubbery or the scoreboard. In amateur baseball there could be several different kinds of object!

Note:  If the ball hits the foul pole above the top of the outfield fence and rebounds into the playing field, it must be called out of play or dead and two bases are awarded. (Above the fence the foul pole is a dead ball if the ball is hit other than on a fly. In flight it is a home run.)

(g) There is a two base award when the ball is thrown out of play on the first play to an infielder at the time of the pitch. On a subsequent throw or a throw by an outfielder it is at the base occupied at the time of the throw. This included the stands, the dugout or the bench area etc. In amateur ball all the ball parks vary. As an umpire you need to cover all areas out of play when you go over ground rules in the pre-game conference. If something is not covered you must make a two base ruling. If an argument ensues you are the final judge as to out of play or not.

“We have a saying that helps us in one or two base awards which are the most common to happen.”




  (h) One base award. If from a pitcher in a legal pitching position from the runner and is pitched or thrown to a base and goes out of play. If the pitcher pitches to a batter or throws to a base to catch a base runner the ball goes out of play.

Note:  If a catcher or fielder subsequently muffs a thrown or pitched ball by the pitcher, it is a two base award. (muffs means to kick or deflect) 


    1.  On a subsequent play

    2.  The award is at the time of the pitch

    3.  The base occupied at the time of the pitch 


  (i) One base is awarded and the ball is dead when four balls are thrown by the pitcher or on strike three the ball goes out of play. Out of play can signify lodged in the umpire’s clothing or equipment on a wild pitch or pass ball if it is ball four or strike three and goes out of play according to baseball rule seven

7.06  Obstruction is one of those rules an umpire can have happen and he needs to know what to do. Obstruction can occur during a batted or thrown ball. Contact is not necessary. When it occurs the umpire should call “that’s obstruction” and point at the location of the obstruction.

Obstruction is on the defensive team and interference is usually on the offensive team. Do you know the difference? The catcher can obstruct the batter and we call it interference, but it is obstruction. (Refer to Rule 2.00 Definition of Terms for definition of obstruction)

  (a) Obstruction with a play

Ruling on Obstruction

If a runner misses a base because of obstruction, an appeal of his miss of such base cannot be upheld. When obstruction occurs, the umpire must determine immediately whether or not a play was being made on the runner at the moment he was obstructed (review definition of play)  

1.  Obstruction with a Play (7.06) when there is obstruction and a concurrent play on the obstructed runner, or the batter-runner is obstructed before first base while his batted ball remains in the infield, the ball is dead. If a batted ball goes to the outfield and the batter-runner is obstructed before first base, it is obstruction without a play. The obstructed runner is awarded at least his advance base, but may be awarded additional bases if the umpire believes he would have acquired them had he not been obstructed. All other runners are awarded (or not awarded) bases based on the umpire’s judgment of what base they would have acquired had there been no obstruction. When there is obstruction with a play, the required one-base award to the obstructed runner could require a leading runner’s arbitrary award to an advance base.

An umpire may have to consider action occurring after obstruction has been called when determining an award or protection.

Examples:  Obstruction with a Play

  1.  R2 and R1. After a pickoff, R1 is in a rundown and is obstructed while advancing to second, or while returning to first; there is a play (the rundown) being made on the obstructed runner at the time of the obstruction, requiring an award of his advance base, regardless of whether he were running toward or away from it. R1 is awarded second, which requires the arbitrary award of R2 to third.

  2.  R1, one out. The batter grounds a ball to the first baseman, whose throw to second is poor, causing the shortstop to abandon his try to force out R1 who is sliding into second. Meanwhile, the pitcher sprints toward first base to accept the return throw. His assistance is unnecessary because the first baseman has returned to the bag and is about to glove the throw when the pitcher and batter-runner have contact a few steps before first; at the time of the obstruction play was being made on the obstructed runner, so the ball is dead and he is awarded first base. R1 remains at second. (suppose the throw had been wild, but remained in play) If the umpire determines that R1 would have proceeded to third and that the batter-runner would have been able to acquire second without the obstruction, he can award them such bases. Suppose the throw had gone out of play; R1 (at second at the time of the throw) is awarded home, the batter-runner is awarded second. If a batter-runner is obstructed before first base, but his batted ball becomes caught or foul, the obstruction is nullified.

7.11  Players in the bench area or dugout or a bullpen in the field of play must move to allow a fielder to field a ball or catch a ball. If not, it is interference and the batter or runner on whom the play is being made is out.

7.12  This rule is self-explanatory. Read the Rule.

 7.13 Collisions at Home Plate (Added in 2014)

     (1) A runner attempting to score a run may not deviate from his direct path to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or any other player covering home plate). If, in the judgment of the umpire, a runner attempting to score initiates contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate) in such a manner, the umpire shall declare the runner out (even if the player covering home plate loses possession of the ball). In such circumstances, the umpire shall call the ball dead, and all other base runners shall return to the last base touched at the time of the collision. 

     (2) Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the umpire, the catcher without possession of the ball blocks the pathway of the runner, the umpire shall call or signal the runner safe. Notwithstanding the above, it shall not be considered a violation of this Rule 7.13 if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in order to field a throw, and the umpire determines that the catcher could not have fielded the ball without blocking the pathway of the runner and that contact with the runner was unavoidable. 

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