Explanation of Catcher’s Interference
Rule 6.08 (c) in the 2010 Little League Baseball rulebook states that “[t]he batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided said runner advances to and touches first base) when the catcher or any other fielder interferes with the batter. If a play follows the interference, the manager of the offense may advise the plate umpire of a decision to decline the interference penalty and accept the play. Such election shall be made immediately at the end of the play. However, if the batter reaches first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batsman, or otherwise, and all runners advance at least one base, the play proceeds without reference to the interference.”
This rule covers those situations where the catcher interferes with the batter’s attempt to hit the ball. However, if the catcher interferes with the batter prior to the pitch being delivered, time should be called and no penalty assessed.
This rule usually applies to the catcher reaching for a pitched ball and his glove is hit with the bat as the batter swings. If the ball is not put in play, the ball is dead and the runner is awarded first base and all runners forced to advance may advance. If the ball is hit in play, the result is termed a “delayed dead ball”, meaning that the umpire should allow the play to continue until a point where no further action is possible and then call time and enforce such penalties or awards as required.
If the ball is put in play and all runners, including the batter, advance at least one base, then play continues without further reference to the catcher’s interference. Any advances or outs stand.
An example of this scenario would be:
Runner on second, no outs, batter hits ball to right field. Runner advances to third and tries to score but is thrown out at plate. Batter rounds first and advances to second on throw. This play stands and manager has no choice to enforce the catcher’s interference.
If the ball is put in play and the play is allowed to continue and any runner, or the batter, fails to advance at least one base, the manager of the offense may choose to elect to take the result of the play or enforce the batter’s interference rule. The following is an example of when a manager may choose to accept the play over the interference penalty.
Runner on third only, no outs, and the catcher interferes with the batter’s swing at the pitch but hits a long fly ball to center field where it is caught by the center fielder. The runner at third tags and scores. Because the batter did not reach first base, the manager has two choices:
(1) Enforce the catcher’s interference rule which would mean placing the batter runner on first and returning the runner on third back on third with no outs; or
(2) Accept the result of the play, batter is out, runner on third scores, and there is one out.
In baseball juniors and above, if a runner on third is attempting to steal home on a squeeze play and the catcher interferes with the batter either by hitting his bat or moving in front of the plate denying the batter the opportunity to hit the ball, time should be called, the batter awarded first and the runner from third awarded home as well. However, if the runner on third is not attempting to steal home, then the batter should be awarded first and the runner remain at third unless forced. The reason we score the run on a squeeze play is to discourage the defense from intentionally interfering with the batter in order to prevent the runner from scoring.
If you have any questions about catcher’s interference, or any other rule, please send your questions to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Indiana District 5