Rick Roder
rules of baseball.com

Excerpt, The Rules
of Professional Baseball



Portfolio Directory

    By far the most difficult writing assignment I have ever tackled is the complete re-write of baseball's official rules, a project initiated by my co-author, Chris Jaksa, in 1988. It is an on-going effort, since the rules of baseball continually evolve. Chris was predominantly responsible for the structure and left the project to me in 1990; the writing is mostly mine. I have chosen a representative chapter from The Rules of Professional Baseball: A Comprehensive Reorganization and Interpretation, Rule Differences Edition. The bracketed numbers refer to the corresponding rule numbers found in the Official Baseball Rules. They give an indication of the lack of organization and the cross-referencing found in "OBR." The Rule Differences Edition includes rule differences to be found in high school (NFHS) and college (NCAA) baseball. The excerpt reveals some of my experience and ability in writing technical material. The play examples give a good indication of my ability to bring "life" to difficult subject matter.

Chapter 10 - Determining a Run

Unless otherwise noted, assume a "runner" to be a runner who is not yet out.

  1. A run [2.00] can occur only if a runner touches (or passes) each advance base. [4.09a] However, there cannot be a run if a runner has touched (or passed) home base, but there is related action wherein
    1. he becomes out.
    2. EG:R2, one out. Base hit to left field. The catcher fields the throw and tags R2 after he had passed (but not touched) home: this is an appeal, and it is upheld. R2 is not a run (without the appeal R2 would have scored a run).

      EG:R2 and a base hit. R2 misses third and touches home safely. An appeal of third is upheld: R2 is an out, and not a run.

    3. he must return to another base.
    4. EG:R3, one out. The batter bunts the ball attempting a suicide squeeze. The fair ball is fielded and thrown toward first after R3 has touched home. The batter-runner, who is outside the 45-foot running lane, interferes and is declared out: because of the interference, R3 must return to third, his run nullified.

      If a runner has legally scored a run but returns toward third in the mistaken belief that he has violated some rule, the return is meaningless and the run scores. [5.06]

    5. a third out occurs before the runner touches (or passes) home: this is called a time play. [4.09a]
    6. Exception: Time play criteria do not apply to a consecutive runner at third who is awarded home due to a batter-runner's award to first (BB, HBP, etc.). All that is required in such a case for the run to score is that the batter-runner touch first and the runner from third touch home. 24 [7.04b] [4.09b] EG: Bases loaded and two outs, base on balls to the batter. R2 overruns third to join in a game-ending celebration, and is tagged out before R3 touches home: R3 is allowed to score. Due to the award, all that is required for the run to score is that the batter-runner touches first and R3 touches home.

      Examples: Time Plays

      1 ----R3 and R1, one out. R1 is stealing when the pitch is lined to right - center field and is caught by a diving right fielder. R3 retouches and runs home, touching the plate just before R1 is out on a retouch appeal at first: this is a time play - the out at first is not a force out. Hence, R3 is a run.
      2 ----R3 and R1. The batter grounds a ball to the first baseman near the bag. He fields the ball, steps on first base and throws to the shortstop, who tags R1 just before R3 touches home: this is a time play - R1 is not a force out. R3 is not a run.
      3 ----R2, two outs. The batter singles to right field. R2 misses third en route to home. The throw toward home is cut off and relayed to second, where the batter-runner is tagged just after R2 touches home: this is a time play - R2 is a run (unless an appeal of his missed third base is upheld).

      If a runner misses home in passing it, and returns to touch it, the time he is considered to have touched the plate is when he actually does touch it. If he only passes the plate (failing to touch it), then the time he "touches or passes" the plate is the time he passes it.

      EG:R2, two outs. The batter singles to center field. The throw to the plate is relayed to second base and R2 misses home plate just before the batter-runner is tagged out:

      1. If R2 proceeds to his dugout or position and all infielders leave fair territory (no appeal), R2's run counts. [NFHS 8.2.2n]
      2. If the defense appeals R2's miss of the plate, he is out and there is no run.
      3. If R2 returns to the plate and touches it after the out at second base, his "touch or pass" of home plate has then occurred after the third out, and cannot be counted; this is a time play.

      Note: the umpire should immediately rule on the time play when the first "touch or pass" occurs, even if the runner misses the plate. The defense is required to recognize that the plate has been missed. If the runner returns to touch the plate, the umpire should then revise his ruling and cancel the run.

      A variation: 2 outs, R2. Just before the batter-runner is thrown out at second base, R2 passes (but fails to touch) home plate. The catcher yells for the ball for an appeal at the plate. The ball is thrown home; R2 returns and slides into the plate just before a tag.

    7. the third out is:
      1. the batter-runner before touching (or passing) first base, or the batter-runner on an appeal for missing first, or when his batted ball is caught. [4.09a1] [4.09b]
      2. another runner who is forced out. [4.09a2] [7.12]
      3. a leading runner on appeal. No runners following such runner can score. [4.09a3] [4.09b] [7.10d] [7.12]


      D/1:R3, two outs. The batter grounds a ball to the shortstop who throws toward first. The throw takes the first baseman into the batter-runner's path. The batter-runner side steps the first baseman and, in doing so, misses first base. R3 touches home and then an appeal out at first base is upheld: the out at first is the third out, so the run cannot score.
      D/2:R2 and R1, one out. The batter lines an extra-base hit to right-center field. R2 and R1 advance to home, but R1 misses second base. The batter-runner is thrown out at third base (2 outs). The defense then appeals that R1 missed second base, and the appeal is upheld: the appeal out is a force out because at the moment he missed second, R1 was forced to advance to that base. Since the third out was a force out, no runs score.
      D/3:R3 and R2, one out. The batter hits a long fly ball to right field that is caught. R3 goes to retouch, but leaves third before the ball is touched for the catch. R2 retouches. The throw home is cut off, and subsequently thrown wild past third. R2, like R3, advances to home. The defense appeals R3's failure to retouch, and it is upheld: neither run can score because the third out is a leading runner on appeal.

      NOTE: Following runners are not affected by an act of a preceding runner unless two are out. [4.09a] [7.12]

      EG:R3 and R2, one out. The batter grounds a ball to the left of the third baseman who fields and throws to first. R3 hesitates, but advances on such throw. The first baseman forces out the batter-runner before throwing wildly toward home, causing R3 and the catcher to collide. R3 misses the plate, but is safe. While the ball is being retrieved, R2 advances to, and acquires home. The defense then appeals R3's failure to touch home, and it is upheld: neither run scores.

  2. When judging whether a run scores on a time play, the umpire is to watch for whether the runner touches the plate before or after the tag originates. The tag originates when it is applied by touching the runner or base. An umpire is not to judge a time play according to whether the runner touches the plate before or after the completion of the tag - which is after complete control is shown or proven. The umpire at the plate watches for whether the runner touches the plate before or after the origination of the tag. The umpire on the bases watches for the completion of the tag (complete control) and signals the third out. Only then does the umpire at the plate make his signal on the time play.
  3. A determination of whether an out is a force out or not can be the factor in deciding if a run counts. E.G.: bases loaded, one out. The batter grounds a ball to the shortstop, who tosses the ball to second for a force out. The throw to first is overthrown. The batter-runner is awarded to second; R2 and R3 are awarded home. Assume the R2 missed third and an appeal against him at third is upheld: such out is a third out. The crucial question relative to run determination is: is the appeal out a force out? If so, the R3 cannot score, and if not, it is a time play. If R2 was forced at the time he missed third, his out is a force out, and R3 is not a run. However, if the force out at second occurred before R2 missed third, then the force was removed against him (a following consecutive runner was out), the out is not a force, and R3 scores (such would probably be the case). [NCAA 8-5j]
  4. The third out of an inning does not prevent the defense from getting a fourth (fifth, etc.) out, an out that is advantageous in that it takes away an apparent run. Such advantageous fourth out supersedes the former third out and becomes, for all purposes, the third out.
  5. [7.10d]


    1 ----Appeal against a runner: R3 and R2, two outs. The batter singles, R3 misses home, and R2 is thrown out at the plate for the third out. The defense's appeal is upheld at home: this is an advantageous fourth out and supersedes R2's out-no runs score.
    2 ----Appeal against a runner already out: R3 and R1, two outs. The batter singles. R1 misses second and is thrown out at third for the third out. The defense's appeal is upheld at second: this is an advantageous fourth out and supersedes the out at third-R3 does not score.
    3 ----Not an appeal: Bases loaded, two outs. The batter singles and R2 is thrown out at home for the third out. The batter has been injured and is unable to advance to first, prompting the defense to throw to first against him: this is an advantageous fourth out and supersedes the former third out, and no run can score.

  6. A runner who touches (or passes) home with the apparent winning run does not terminate the game; a subsequent out is possible. If such an out, pursuant to these rules, prevents the "winning runner" from being a run, the game continues.

24Technically, the requirement of the batter-runner to touch first on this play is only relevant with two outs. If, with less than two outs, the batter-runner deserted his effort and did not touch first, but R3 touched home, the winning run is allowed to score, and the game is over. Umpires are well advised to observe the actions of all runners and fielders in situations where the home team scores a run or runs to win in the last half-inning.

Appendix Items:

NFHS 8.2.2n - If a runner passes home (without touching it) and enters the dugout, his status as a runner has ended; he cannot return to touch home.

NCAA 8-5j - The appeal out at third in this play is considered to be a force out regardless of whether the runner was forced when he missed third base. I have no idea how to construct a sentence to explain this interpretation - I hope it suffices to say that if you have a play similar to the example cited, the out is a force out in NCAA competition, regardless of whether the force was removed.

Copyright © 2002, Richard J. Roder. All rights reserved.


Rulesofbaseball.com home

Portfolio Directory

Best viewed with Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher

© 2002 Rick Roder