From the Field!
This month’s question comes from Scott in Texas District 13.
Scott writes, “The batter begins his swing at the pitch and while doing so, realizes the ball is coming straight at him. He leans back to keep from getting hit; however, the ball does hit him in the chest, clearly out of the strike zone. During this entire action, he completes the swing. Is this a ‘dead ball’ with the batter being awarded first base or is this a ‘dead ball’ and called a strike?”
When determining the ruling on this play, we will reference rule 2.00 – A Strike and rule 6.08 (b). First let’s define a strike.
In 2.00 - Definitions:
A Strike is a legal pitch which meets any of these conditions –
- is struck at by the batter and is missed;
- is not struck at, if any part of the ball passes through any part of the strike zone;
- is fouled by the batter when there is less than two strikes;
- is bunted foul (batter is out and ball is dead, if the batter bunts foul on the third strike);
- touches the batter’s person as the batter strikes at it (dead ball);
- touches the batter in flight in the strike zone; or
- becomes a foul tip (ball is live and in play).
Take note of sub-section (e). The definition of a strike, in part, states, “(if a legal pitch) touches the batter’s person as the batter strikes at it (it is a dead ball).”
Now let’s look at rule 6.08 (b): The 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 –
(b) the batter is touched by a pitched ball which the batter is not attempting to hit unless (1) the ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (2) the batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball.
For this scenario, it is difficult to provide a definitive ruling because it is ultimately the umpire’s judgment as to the intent of the batter. When making judgment rulings, it is important to quickly identify the rule or rules that pertain to the play (which we have done for this scenario), apply them to the specific situation, and make an efficient, informed decision. Whatever the decision, it is in the umpire’s best interest to explain it using rulebook terminology. This is why having a working knowledge of the rules is so important.
For having his question selected for this month’s “From the Field,” Scott will be receiving a limited edition black Little League Umpire hat.