Wilful and Deliberate Interference

With all the focus on the rule changes regarding slides into bases on double play attempts, please bear in mind that a runner may, for all intensive purposes, make a bona fide slide, yet still be guilty of interference.

Official playing rule 5.09(a)(13) states, “A batter is out when a preceding runner, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interferes with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball, or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play.” Furthermore, Official rule 6.01(a)(6) states, “If, in the judgment of the umpire, a base runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead. The umpire shall call the runner out for interference and also call out the batter-runner because of the action of his teammate. In no event may bases be run or runs scored because of such action by a runner.”

Examples of wilful and deliberate interference include, but are not limited to: grabbing or pulling of the fielder’s foot or leg below the knee (recall that contact initiated above the knee violates the conditions of the bona fide slide checklist), or raising one’s hand(s) for the purpose of hindering the throw to first base.

Although difficult to detect at full-speed, during the slow-motion replay of the following play from last night in the class-AA Texas League, you will see R1 engage in an otherwise bona-fide slide however, as the pivot man throws to first base, R1 extends his right arm straight up in the air. This action hinders the throw to first base and, although initially undetected by U3, is eventually correctly ruled as interference after a crew consultation.

Please note that, when using a 3/4/6 umpire system, it is recommended, but not mandatory, that ALL umpires convene during a crew consultation, as it is possible that an ‘unlikely’ umpire may have pertinent information.