First base represents a wrinkle to the broader rules around acquiring bases. During his advance to first base, a batter-runner is permitted to overrun the base without risk of being tagged out by a fielder.
The batter-runner must immediately return to first base after overrunning it for this to apply. If he makes any attempt to advance to second base and is tagged, he will be ruled out.
The attempt to advance to second is subject to the umpire’s interpretation. One myth in baseball is that a batter-runner must turn right (versus left, towards second base) to return to the base after overrunning. While merely turning towards second does not constitute an attempt to advance, making any other movement in the direction of second base could be seen as a legitimate attempt to advance.
If a runner makes even a very brief attempt to advance to second base after overrunning first (which, for example could be a single step), he risks being tagged out before returning to first base.
Runner briefly attempts to advance to 2B, but decides to stay at 1B.
The Home to First Base Running Lane
Halfway between home and first base, there is an additional chalk line in foul territory that creates a 3-foot lane between it and the first base line. During his last 45 feet between home and first base, the batter-runner is required to run in this lane to avoid batter’s interference. To be officially “in” the lane, both of his running feet must be coming down entirely within the marked lines.
As long as a batter-runner remains in this running lane, he cannot be called for interference if he is hit by the ball during a fielder’s attempt to throw to first. This is perhaps most common in the case of bunts, where the catcher often fields the ball near home plate before attempting a throw.
If the runner is hit while outside of this lane, he will be called out for interfering with the receiving fielder’s ability to catch the ball. A batter-runner can even be called out if he is not hit by the throw, but the umpire deems that being outside the lane interfered with the receiving fielder’s attempt to cleanly field it.
As is the case with most of our [Interference, Obstruction, and Base Path Collisions] discussion, though, a throw from a fielder must be attempted for a violation to possibly occur. Beyond a mere attempt, the throw must be judged “catchable” by the umpire’s interpretation.
There are two important exceptions to this running lane discussion. If a fielder is in the running lane in an attempt to field a batted ball, the runner is permitted – and actually required – to leave the lane. He is also permitted to leave the running lane for the purpose of actually touching first base – as first base itself is in fair territory while the running lane is technically in foul territory.
Insider Reports: Baseline
Did Javier Baez stray beyond three feet in this controversial play when the Cubs played the Giants, May 22, 2016?
Can a batter-runner legally disrupt a throw from the first baseman to home plate? This Insider Report explains the details of an unusual play that happened between the Rangers and Mariners, September 6, 2016.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia protested this play in a loss to the Royals. Watch and read about this play and learn the fine points of the 45-foot long, 3-foot wide running lane in this excellent Insider Report.
Padres manager Andy Green was tossed when he argued a “no interference” call when the Padres hosted the Orioles June 29, 2016. Watch the play, read the case study in this Insider Report and decide for yourself. Was Green right?
This Insider Report details several plays that occurred during major league games when batter-runner interference caused the controversy. With links to video, this is an excellent piece that will enhance your knowledge of the home to 1B running lane rule.
How can your first baseman play better defense when receiving a throw from the catcher or pitcher that might hit the batter-runner? Read this Insider Report for some great tips. Watch the video and read how Indians Terry Francona was ejected arguing a batter-runner interference no call. Who got the call right, umpires or Francona?