Umpire Interpretations(view all)
(©MLB Umpire Manual)

28. APPEAL PLAYS—APPROVED RULINGS

28. APPEAL PLAYS—APPROVED RULINGS

Rule 5.09(c) [former Rule 7.10]:

(1) Runner on first, one out.  The batter doubles.  Runner on first rounds the bases and tries for home. On the play at the plate, the catcher misses the tag and runner misses the plate in sliding by. As the catcher begins to chase the runner to apply a tag, the batter-runner tries for third base. Seeing this, the catcher throws to the third baseman, who retires the batter-runner. May the defensive team still appeal at home on the runner originally on first? Ruling: Yes. The catcher’s play on the batter-runner at third base was still part of the continuous action created by and following the batted ball. Therefore, the defensive team would not lose its rights to make an appeal by playing on the runner at home or the batter-runner at third and may still appeal at home. (2) Runner on first base, one out. The pitcher attempts a pickoff but throws the ball past the first baseman down the right field line. Runner misses second base but tries for third. The right fielder’s throw to get the runner at third base is too late, although the runner is tagged by the third baseman. May the defense appeal at second base that the runner missed it? Ruling: Yes. The third baseman’s attempted play on the runner at third base was still part of the continuous action created by and following the aborted pick-off throw. Therefore, the defensive team does not lose its right to make its appeal by playing on the runner at third base and may still appeal. (3) Runners on first and third, two out. The pitcher’s next pitch is a wild pitch back to the screen. While the ball is being chased down, the runner on third crosses the plate. Runner from first misses second base but tries for third. The catcher’s throw to third base gets past the third baseman, and the runner tries to score. The shortstop, backing up third, attempts to throw the runner out at the plate, but the catcher’s tag is too late and the runner is ruled safe. May the defensive team still appeal at second base on the runner originally on first? Ruling: Yes. The defensive team’s attempted plays on the runner originally on first at third and home were still part of the continuous action created by and following the wild pitched ball. Therefore, the defensive team does not lose its right to make its appeal by attempting these plays and may still appeal at second base on the runner originally on first. (4) Runner on first, one out. The batter singles. Runner from first misses second base and advances to third without a play. The ball comes into the infield and is returned to the pitcher. The pitcher stretches, comes to a set position, and then legally steps off the rubber to start an appeal at second base. The original runner from first (now on third) breaks for home as the defense starts its appeal. The pitcher, instead of completing the appeal play, throws home to get the runner, but the tag is too late and the runner is ruled safe. May the defensive team still appeal at second base? Ruling: No. The defensive team’s attempt to retire the original runner at home occurred after a definite break in the original continuous action that was created by and followed the batted ball. Therefore, the defensive team lost its right to make any appeals once it made the play at home and may not appeal at second nor at any other base. (5) Runner on first, one out. Runner from first goes to third on a single but misses second base. Runner is safe at third on a sliding tag play. The ball is returned to the pitcher, who steps on the rubber, stretches, and comes to a set posi-tion. The defense intends to appeal, but the pitcher balks in stepping off the rub-ber. After the penalty is enforced, may the defense still appeal at second base on the original runner from first? Ruling: No. The defense did not lose its right to appeal by playing on the runner originally on first at third base; that play was still part of the continuous action created by and following the batted ball. However, a balk is considered a play for the purpose of this section of the appeal rule. Because the defensive team cannot appeal following a play or attempted play, the pitcher’s balk cost the defen-sive team its right to make an appeal. NOTE: The pitcher is not required to step off the rubber prior to throwing to a base to make an appeal (see Official Baseball Rule 5.07(a) [former OBR 8.01]). (6) Runner on second, one out. Runner from second attempts to score on a single but misses third base. Runner is safe at home on a sliding tag play. On the throw home, the batter-runner tries to take second and is safe there on a sliding tag play, as the catcher’s throw is too late to retire the batter-runner. Time is called. The pitcher steps on the rubber, stretches, and comes to a set position. The defense intends to appeal at third on the runner originally on second. The pitch-er legally steps back off the rubber, checks the runner at second base, and steps to throw to third for the appeal. The pitcher’s throw, however, is wild and goes out of play. The runner on second is properly awarded home. May the defense still make its intended appeal at third on the runner originally on second when a new ball is put into play? Ruling: No. The attempted plays to retire the runner originally on second at home and the batter-runner at second occurred during the continuous action that was created by and followed the batted ball and do not nullify the defensive team’s right to make an appeal. However, once the defensive team “errs” (i.e., throws the ball out of play) in its attempt to appeal at third on the runner originally on sec-ond, it loses its right to make an appeal. Throwing the ball out of play in this sit-uation is considered an attempted play that occurred after a definite break in the continuous action play. (7) No runners. The batter doubles but misses first base. Time is called. The pitcher steps on the rubber, stretches, and comes to a set position. The defense intends to appeal at first base. The pitcher legally steps off the rubber and checks the runner at second base. The pitcher’s throw for the appeal gets past the first baseman but remains in play. The runner advances to third as the ball is being retrieved. May the defensive team still make its intended appeal at first base? Ruling: Yes. Because the ball is live and in play, if the ball is retrieved and thrown back to first base immediately (i.e., no intervening play), the appeal is allowed. (8) Runner on first, one out. The batter singles. Runner on first misses sec-ond base but is safe at third on sliding tag play. Time is called. The pitcher steps on the rubber, stretches, and comes to a set position. The defense intends to appeal at second base. The pitcher legally steps off the rubber. Seeing this, the runner originally on first (now on third) bluffs as if to go home. The pitcher, now off the rubber, steps toward third and cocks his arm as if to throw but does not throw. May the defensive team still make its intended appeal at second base on the run-ner originally on first? Ruling: Yes. The attempted play at third on the runner originally on first was still part of the continuous action created by and following the batted ball and therefore did not nullify the defensive team’s right to make an appeal. The bluff by the pitcher (step and cocked arm) to check the runner at third is not considered a play or attempted play. Therefore, the defensive team may still attempt its intended appeal at second base. (9) Runner on first, one out. Batter hits a home run out of ballpark. Runner from first misses second and batter-runner misses first. After both runners cross the plate, the umpire puts new ball in play. Pitcher takes a position on the rubber, steps off, and intends to make an appeal at first base on the batter-runner. However, the pitcher’s throw is wild and goes into the stands. The umpire then puts another ball into play, and the pitcher again takes a position on the rubber and steps off. This time the pitcher intends to make an appeal at second base on the runner originally on first. Should the umpire allow the appeal? Ruling: No. If the pitcher throws the ball out of play when making an appeal, such act shall be considered an attempted play. No further appeal will be allowed on any runner at any base. (10) Runners on first and third, one out. Runner from first is stealing on the pitch. Batter hits a fly ball to right field that is caught for the second out. Runner on third tags and scores after the catch. Runner from first tries to return to first base after the catch, but the right fielder’s throw beats the runner to the bag and the runner is declared out for the third out of the inning. Runner from third base touched home plate before the third out was made at first base.

Ruling: Run counts. This is a time play, NOT a force play.
(11) May a runner who has missed a base return to retouch the missed base after having entered the dugout?

Ruling: No.
(12) Batter-runner hits a ground ball and beats the play at first base but misses the bag. Ruling: The proper mechanic is for the umpire to call the runner safe, indicat-ing he beat the play. If the defense appeals by tagging the runner (or base) and appealing that the runner missed first base before the runner returns to first base, the bat-ter-runner would be declared out. Note also Official Baseball Rule 5.09(b)(12) Comment [former OBR 7.08(k) Comment]. (13) The following play occurred in a Major League game and leads to a num-ber of questions regarding appeal plays. The rulings below provide insight into var-ious regulations concerning appeals and awards. Play: Runner on first, no outs, hit-and-run. Batter hits a line drive which strikes the pitcher in the back, flies into the air, and is caught in flight by the third baseman for an out. The runner on first is nearly to second base when the ball is caught. The third baseman throws to first, attempting to double the runner off first base; however, his throw is wild and goes into the stands. At the time of the throw, the runner from first has not quite reached second base. When the ball goes out of play, the runner from first has rounded second base (touching second as he rounded it) and is several steps towards shortstop. (a) What is the proper award? Ruling: Third base—two bases from the time of the pitch because this is the first play by an infielder. (b) What if the runner is beyond second base at the time of the throw? Is the award then home? Ruling: No, the award is still third because the throw was the first play by an infielder. (c) In the original play may the runner go back and retouch first base while the ball is dead? Ruling: Yes, provided he does so before touching third base (and provided he touches all bases in order, both returning and advancing). See Official Baseball Rule 5.09(c)(2) Approved Ruling (B) [former OBR 7.10(b) Approved Ruling (2)]. This is a key point. Because the runner left first base too soon, the runner must return and retouch first base. Because the ball is dead, the runner must return to first base before the runner touches the next base. The runner’s “next base” is determined by the runner’s position at the time the ball went out of play. At the time the ball went out of play, the runner was between second and third. Therefore, in this play, the runner must return and retouch first base before touching third. (d) May the runner return to first base to retouch after the runner touches third base? Ruling: No. (See preceding question and ruling.) (e) What if the runner attempts to return to first base after the runner touch-es third base? Should the umpire stop the runner from doing so? Ruling: No. The umpire should not intervene in any way other than to realize that after the runner has touched third, the runner’s retouch of first base is meaningless. After touching third base, if the runner should attempt to retrace his steps while the ball is dead (from third, back to second, back to first, then to second, and finally to third), the umpire would not physically stop the runner from doing so. However, the runner’s retouch of first base would not correct the fact the runner left too soon because when the ball is dead, the runner must correct his base-running error before he touches the next base. (Again, see Official Baseball Rule 5.09(c)(2) Approved Ruling (B) [former OBR 7.10(b) Approved Ruling (2)].)

(f) In this play, when the ball went out of play, the runner was already past second.  Isn’t the runner already a “base beyond” the base the runner left too soon?And therefore, the runner should not be able to return to first base because the runner has already reached second base, correct? Ruling: No. The “base beyond” or “next base” is determined by the runner’s position at the time the ball goes out of play. In this play, the runner’s “next base” is third base. (g) In this play, how can the runner correct the fact the runner left first base too soon? Ruling: When the ball is dead (out of play), the runner should stop advancing towards third and retrace his steps in order, touching second and then first (all before touching third base). The runner should then advance to third (his awarded base) by touching second and then third, in order. (h) If the runner goes directly to third base on the award (and does not retouch first base while the ball is dead), may the defense appeal the fact the run-ner left too soon at first? Ruling: Yes, after the ball is put back in play, the defense may appeal by tagging the runner or first base. (See Official Baseball Rule 5.09(c)(1) [former OBR 7.10(a)].) (i) After the ball is back in play, may the defense put the runner out by appeal-ing at second base? Ruling: No. The runner may be put out only by tagging the runner or the base the runner left too soon. (See Official Baseball Rule 5.09(c)(1)[former OBR 7.10(a)].) (j) Doesn’t the act of the third baseman throwing the ball out of play nullify a succeeding appeal attempt? That is, hasn’t the defense erred on its first attempt to appeal? Ruling: No. The wild throw by the third baseman is part of the con-tinuous action created by the batter hitting the ball and does not nullify a subse-quent appeal after the continuous action has ended. (k) Suppose the defense does appeal at second base, and the umpire declares the runner safe (after ascertaining what the defense is appealing). May the defense then appeal at first base? Ruling: Yes, because an appeal itself is not con-sidered a play or attempted play. (l) What if the defense appeals at first base, but the pitcher balks in making the appeal? Ruling: No subsequent appeal would be allowed, because a balk is considered a play. (m) What if the defense appeals at first base, but the pitcher throws the ball into the stands? Ruling: No subsequent appeal would be allowed, as this is con-sidered an attempted play. (n) Can the second baseman back up the appeal play at first? Ruling: While the second baseman may run onto foul territory after the ball is put into play, the umpire may not put the ball in play until all fielders (other than the catcher) are on fair territory. See Official Baseball Rule 5.02 [former OBR 4.03]. (o) What if the defense appeals at first base, but the pitcher throws wildly and the ball rolls down the right-field line? Ruling: If the wild throw is retrieved and thrown back to first base immediately (i.e., no intervening play), the appeal would be allowed. (p) To begin the appeal, the pitcher steps off the rubber, then fakes a throw to third to bluff the runner back. Is this an attempted play? Ruling: No. (q) When the pitcher steps off the rubber to start the appeal, the runner breaks for home.  Pitcher throws to the catcher, and the runner gets in a rundown, ending up safely at third base.  May the defense now appeal at first?  Ruling:  No.

(14) May a runner return to touch a missed base after the third out?Answer: No.  Example: Runner on second base, two out.  Batter hits a base hit but is thrown out attempting to reach second base. Runner originally on sec-ond crossed the plate before the third out but missed the plate. After the third out at second base, the runner who missed the plate then returns and touches the plate. Defense, before leaving the infield, then appeals at home. Ruling: Initially the run scores (runner reached home plate before the third out). However, the defense’s appeal is sustained and the runner is called out because no run may score after the third out is made. See Official Baseball Rule 5.08(a) [former OBR 4.09(a)]. In addition to the preceding approved rulings regarding appeal plays, the examples and plays found in the Comments to Official Baseball Rule 5.08 [former OBR 4.09] also pertain to appeal plays. In particular, plays found in that section of the Official Baseball Rules demonstrate the following three concepts: (1) No run shall score during a play in which the third out is made by the bat-ter-runner before the batter-runner touches first base.

(2) No run shall score during a play in which the third out is a force out. (3) Following runners are not affected by an act of a preceding runner unless two are out.