The Reds and Pirates were in in the 12th inning of a 2 – 2 game on September 28, 2019, when the Reds Phil Ervin was called for Willful and Deliberate Interference as he attempted to break up a double play. The Reds had runners on 2B (Kyle Farmer) and 1B (Phil Ervin) when Tucker Barnhart hit a groundball to Pirates 2B Adam Frazier. It appeared to be a tailor-made double play ball as Frazier fielded and tossed to SS Kevin Newman who came across the second base bag and attempted to relay to 1B. As Ervin began his slide he raised both of his hands over his head. Newman’s throw deflected off Ervin’s hands and the ball dribbled onto the infield dirt.
Hunter Wendlestedt called Ervin out and then pointed at him when he saw the willful interference. He then correctly called out Barnhart at 1B and returned Farmer to 2B. The play would most likely have been a natural double play but the interference call cost the Reds a runner at 3B instead of 2B. If Wendlestedt had ruled Ervin’s play as unintentional, Barnhart would have been safe at 1B and Farmer would have moved on to 3B.
The rulebook is clear on runner interference. From the MLB Umpire’s Manual:
- WILLFUL AND DELIBERATE INTERFERENCE
Rules 6.01(a)(6), 6.01(a)(7), 6.01(a)(5), 5.09(a)(13), 5.09(b)(3), 6.01(j) [former Rules 7.09(f), 7.09(g), 7.09(e), 6.05(m), 7.08(b), 7.14]:
If, in the judgment of the umpire, a runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a fielder attempting to catch a thrown ball or attempting to throw a ball with the obvious intent to deprive the defense of the opportunity to make a double play, the umpire shall declare the runner out for interference and shall also declare the batter-runner out for the interference of his teammate.