From the Field: Obstruction vs. Interference
This month, Marco from Nevada District 7, asks about “the line” between obstruction and interference.
Here’s Marco’s Situation: With a runner on second base, and two outs, the batter hits a soft ground ball toward the shortstop. As the base runner breaks for third base, the shortstop attempts to field the ball in the path of the base runner, and the base runner tries to avoid contact by jumping behind the shortstop. In the process, the base runner catches his foot on the heel of the shortstop, and falls to the ground. The shortstop also stumbles from the contact, and is unable complete the play to first base. The base runner gets to his feet, and proceeds safely to third base.
Because the ball took the shortstop into the path of the base runner, does that constitute obstruction? Or does the runner kicking the foot of the shortstop, and the result being no play made, warrant interference?”
Answer: In this situation, we reference Rule 7.08(b): Any runner is out when he/she intentionally interferes with a thrown ball; or hinders a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball. NOTE: A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to make a play on a ball is out whether it was intentional or not. It is the umpire's judgment as to whether the opinion is obstruction or interference.
Rule 7.08: “Any runner is out when – (a)(3) the runner does not slide or attempt to get around a fielder who has the ball and is waiting to make the tag; . . . (b) intentionally interferes with a thrown ball; or hinders a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball (NOTE: A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to make a play on a ball is out whether it was intentional or not).” Rule 7.09: “It is interference by a batter or runner when – (f) the runner fails to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball, or intentionally interferes with a thrown ball . . .”
2.00 – Definition of Terms
OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball, impedes the progress of any runner. A fake tag is considered obstruction. (NOTE: Obstruction shall be called on a defensive player who blocks off a base, base line or home plate from a base runner while not in possession of the ball.) A fielder without the ball should make way for the advancing base runner; a runner seeing a fielder with the ball must slide or avoid. Don’t allow collisions on the base paths from overly-aggressive play.
OFFENSIVE INTERFERENCE is an act by a member of the team at bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielders attempting to make a play. If the umpire declares the batter, batter-runner or a runner out for interference, all other runners shall return to the last base that was, in the judgment of the umpire, legally touched at the time of the interference, unless otherwise provided by the rules. NOTE: Interference does not have to be intentional for it to be called. Additional descriptions of interference are provided in 2.00 -- Definitions as described in the Little League Baseball and Softball rulebooks.
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Fairball | September 2015 | URC | Registry