May 9, 2024

Backswing Interference 2024

The comparison of backswing interference vs regular batter interference

Backswing Interference 2024

The Rays and Brewers played in Milwaukee on April 29, 2024. In the bottom of the ninth the Brewers trailed 1-0. They had Sal Frelick on third, and Willy Adames on second and one out when Jake Bauers swung and missed a 1-2 slider from Jason Adam. Bauer’s backswing struck catcher René Pinto in the helmet. The ball got by Pinto as Bauer sprinted to first while Frelick scampered home and Adames advanced to third.

But plate umpire Ryan Additon invoked rule 6.03 (a) (3) Comment because Pinto was struck by Bauer’s backswing.  Bauer was called out because it was strike three.  Frelick and Adames had to return to second and third per rule 6.01 (a) (1) that reads, “It is interference by a batter or a runner when after the third strike is not caught by the catcher, the batter-runner clearly hinders the catcher in his attempt to field the ball. Such batter-runner is out, the ball is dead, and all other runners return to the bases they occupied at the time of the pitch.”

Ruleball Comments

  1. The play was correctly ruled.
  2. Official Baseball Rule 6.03(a)(3) Comment states, If a batter strikes at a ball and misses and swings so hard they carry the bat all the way around and, in the umpire’s judgment, unintentionally hits the catcher or the ball in back of him on the backswing, it shall be called a strike only (not interference). The ball will be dead, however, and no runner shall advance on the play.
  3. The rule is incorrectly written because when backswing interference occurs, the ball remains alive unless the batter-runner hinders the catcher from making a play such as occurred in the above play.
  4. Rule 6.03 (a) (3) covers batter interference where the momentum of the batter takes his body into the throwing lane of the catcher usually on a swing and a miss. When that rule is invoked, the batter is out unless the catcher retires the runner. If the interference occurs on strike three, both the batter and the runner are out. That type of batter interference carries a more severe penalty because the batter is in jeopardy of being called out.
  5. Rule 6.03 (a) (3) Comment, covers backswing interference, sometimes referred to as follow-through interference.  In this situation the batter is only called out if it is strike three or if he intentionally interferes. In the above play, Bauers was called out because it was strike three, and because he hindered the catcher from fielding the ball, the runners were returned to the bases they occupied at the time of the pitch. If it was strike two, Bauers would remain at bat.
  6. When both backswing and regular batter interference occurs, the ball remains alive and if the catcher retires a runner on a direct throw the runner is out. If the runner is not retired the runner/s return to the base they occupied at the time of the pitch.


The Phils and Nationals played at Nationals Park on Sept. 3, 2022. 

In the bottom of the seventh, the Nationals had Luis Garcia on second and two outs. Victor Robles was batting with a 2-1 count facing Zach Eflin.  Robles swung through the pitch and made contact with Phils catcher J.T. Realmuto on his follow-through backswing. Despite the contact, Realmuto threw behind Garcia at second, who was caught off the bag. A rundown ensued and he was called out for running out of the baseline when he avoided being tagged.  But plate umpire Marvin Hudson ruled that Robles’ backswing hit Realmuto, and because the initial or direct throw didn’t retire the runner, the ball was dead the moment the throw didn’t put out Garcia. Any following play was irrelevant, and Garcia was allowed to return to second.

7. Backswing interference is one of the few rules that protects both the offensive player and the defensive player in the same play. The theory behind backswing interference is that the batter should be allowed to take a full swing without being impeded by the catcher. And conversely, the catcher should be protected if he is attempting to make a play on a runner. The batter’s long swing is often the cause of the problem.

Rich Marazzi

Rules consultant/analyst:  Angels, D’backs, Dodgers, Mets, Nationals, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Red Sox, Rangers, Royals, Tigers, Twins, White Sox, Yankees, YES, and NBC Sports Chicago. 

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