How are you making that call?

  • Post
    So this is a question recently sent out on this website. I understand it fully, including the answer. However……how the heck do we make that call?
    <h3 class=”llms-question-text”>The following play reportedly occurred in a spring-training game circa 1960: A runner tried to score from second base on a single. The runner toppled over the catcher and was presumed out, except no tag had been applied and the runner hadn’t touched the plate. So, the umpire made no call. With all unsure whether the runner was out or safe, the runner rose, dusted himself off then trotted into his dugout as if he were selling himself as safe.At that point, the first baseman ran to the opposing team’s dugout and called for the pitcher to throw him the ball for the purpose of tagging the runner who was in the dugout. But the runner saw what was going on and charged out of the dugout. He sprinted toward the plate for the purpose of tagging the plate before he was tagged.The result: The runner was caught in a run-down between home plate and his dugout and was tagged out.</h3>

    Answer:  Once the runner entered the dugout, he was called out and could not return to touch the plate. However, his run would score unless the defensive team made a proper appeal.


    Completely understand, but how would we possibly do that correctly? “Uh….runner is out because he entered the dugout before I had a reason to make the call. But the run scores because he crossed the plate…..”. Without leading on to much that there was no tag and the runner never touched the plate….or would we? And how would we explain that the run still scores unless there is an appeal, without hinting at the defence too much that they might want to appeal? All the while making it clear that the runner could no longer return to the field of play so that we didn’t have to deal with players running chaotically all over the place.


    Any thoughts or suggestions?

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      Dave Johnson
      first, the given Answer is worded poorly (closing in on “wrong”).  the runner is not out when he enters the dugout.  once he enters the dugout, he can not return to the field as a live runner in any way.  but he’s not out and the run scores unless and until the defense makes a legal appeal.  once they do make a legal appeal, the runner is out and the run is erased.

      hopefully the defense knows how to make a proper appeal by tagging the plate while appealing verbally that the runner missed the plate, then none of this nonsense happens.

      but let’s say that the runner, having entered dead ball territory, now returns to the field in an attempt to touch the plate while the defense is still playing on other runners… if the defense ignores him, fine, play on.  but if in so doing he draws a throw that may allow other runners to advance, that’s interference by a retired runner (or interference by a teammate if you prefer that terminology).  kill the play and send the other runners back to the bases occupied at time of interference; if a runner was in a rundown, you’re probably calling that runner out for interference by a teammate.

      But still, what to do about the appeal?  if playing under a live-ball appeal ruleset, if you’ve killed the play because the retired runner is interfering with play, there has still been no legal appeal so the runner is still not out and the run is still on the board.  so you’ll have to go through the procedure of making the ball live again with a batter in the box and the pitcher engaged with the rubber, and then see if the defense manages to make the appeal without screwing up.

      if it’s a dead-ball appeal ruleset, as soon as you’ve killed the play and anyone on the defense makes clear they’re appealing that the runner missed the plate, he’s out and the run comes off the board, easy-peasy.

      but agreed, this whole thing can get messy

      There is no reason to call the runner out for entering the dugout. He has passed all bases without being tagged or forced and is considered safe unless an appeal makes him out. Field management would allow you to signal safe for clarification once the runner has abandoned his effort to return by heading towards the dugout. Once the runner has entered the dugout, he is permanently removed from the play. He cannot re-enter the field for any purpose. Since he did, you would just exercise some patience for the shenanigans. When the defense tags the runner and looks for a call, you can state “runner has already entered the dugout and is not in play”.  If the manager wants to call time and discuss it with you, you call time and tell him the runner is not in play once he enters the dugout and cannot return. If he asks if the run scores, you simply reply yes. If he questions whether or not he missed the plate, you state simply “coach, that is a question you would have to ask on proper appeal”.
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