Plate Umpire Interference: Rule 6.01 (f)
A rule that seldom occurs involves plate umpire interference. There are only two umpires that can be called for interference-the second base umpire when he is positioned on the infield side in front of second base in front of the infielders and is struck by a batted ball, and the plate umpire when he impedes a catcher’s throw to a base.
When the second base umpire interferes with play, the ball is dead. The batter-runner is given first base and any runner on base advances one base, only if forced.
When the plate umpire interferes with the catcher’s throw to a base, if the direct throw retires the runner, (there’s no subsequent rundown), the interference is nullified. If the runner is not put out, all runners return to the base they occupied at the time the pitch was delivered.
This happened in the bottom of the fourth inning of the Tigers-Blue Jays game in Toronto on April 12, 2023. The Jays had Daulton Varsho on second and Whit Merrifield on first with two outs. Santiago Espinal was batting facing Eduardo Rodriguez when the Jays attempted a double steal. Tigers’ catcher Eric Haase made an unsuccessful throw to third base. But the runners were sent back to the base they occupied at the time of the pitch because Haase made contact with plate umpire Ryan Wills when he fired to third. If you look carefully, you will see that Haase’s lower back makes contact with Wills’ left hand and left knee. Because the umpire accidentally impeded the throw and Varsho was not retired, both Varsho and Merrifield were returned to their previous bases.