April 2, 2021

When Will They Learn? Do Not Pass Another Runner!

Justin Turner Baserunning Costs Cody Bellionger a Home Run

When Will They Learn? Do Not Pass Another Runner!

It is a simple rule but many players, even veteran major leaguers, remain uninformed. Do not pass another runner while running the bases.

(9) He passes a preceding runner before such runner is out;

This play happened on Opening Day, April 1, 2021 when the Dodgers played the Colorado Rockies.

In the third inning with Justin Turner on 1B, Cody Bellinger powered a drive to the left-field wall at Coors Field. Colorado left fielder, Raimel Tapia, initially caught the ball but it popped out of his glove and went over the fence for a home run. Evidently, Turner, didn’t see the ball pop out of Tapia’s glove and raced back to 1B (running hard, Turner was already past 2B) to avoid being doubled up. As he ran to 1B he passed a confused Cody Bellinger.

Turner passes Bellinger on his way back to 1B.

Ruling: As soon as Turner passed Bellinger on his way back to 1B, Bellinger is declared out. Turner is permitted to continue to run the bases but since the ball went over the fence, the ball is dead. Turner is awarded home on the home run, Bellinger is called out and credited with a single.

Coaching Note: Since Bellinger saw the ball pop out of Tapia’s glove and knew it was a home run he should have stopped Turner from passing him. A runner may physically assist or restrain another from passing.



Stan Dyer

The runners need to know the rules. That is the spirit of the rule. It is impossible for officials to determine why a runner does what he does. That’s why the letter of the law is important.

I remember being in New Orleans in 2015, and watching Carter Capps warm up before going in to pitch. I knew what he was doing was illegal, and only wondered “How did this guy this far in baseball without anyone correcting this obvious error?” The answer is “Someone didn’t think it violated the “spirit” of the rule, and, besides, he’s been allowed to do that before, so it must be okay now.” Well, the Umpire in Chief agreed with me, and kept balking Capps until his manager came unglued, and pulled him out of the game.

The letter of the law is important in keeping the game fair and equal for all at all times.


What happens in this situation if the passing of the runner is the third out? No run scores?

Mark Astolfi

I’d say this is a case where the letter of the law is observed but the spirit is not. Wouldn’t you think the runner who made the mistake is the one who should be called out? And the rule does say a runner is out if he passes a preceding runner, not if a preceding runner passes him, so it could even be argued that way, although the official interpretation would disagree.

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