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  • Catcher's Interference Question

    Perhaps the question is this: Does the batter ever relinquish her right to swing at a pitch, assuming she never leaves the batter's box?

    Here's the situation we were in this weekend.

    Girls fast-pitch softball, 14 - 16 YO league.

    Our pitcher hit her leg with her pitching arm and threw a ball that looked like it belonged in a men's slow pitch league. It had about a 12 foot arc and was going to land well short of the plate. Obviously not what she intended to throw.

    As the batter watched the pitch, she came out of her batting stance and lowered her bat. Our catcher stood up, stepped forward onto the plate and caught the ball. The umpire called it a ball. When I spoke to our catcher after the inning she said it was obvious the batter wasn't going to swing, so she figured she would just catch the ball. I calmly instructed her not to do it again.

    Should the umpire have called Catcher's Interference even though it was "obvious" that the batter had no intention of swinging at the pitch? Our catcher was certainly in the hitting zone when she caught the ball. Had it been our batter, I would have argued the call. Would I have won?

  • #2
    I'd move this to the "Ask the Umpire" sticky up on top of the page for a quicker response.

    Personally I don't think that is a catcher's interfernce but more of a catcher's balk. If the batter would have made contact with the catcher or part of her equipment then that would be interference. Hopefully someone smarter them me will come in with the right answer.

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    • #3
      There was nothing done by the catcher to impede the batter's swing (since there was none) so no catcher's interference.

      You were wise to warn your catcher not to do that again. Just because she thought the batter wasn't going to swing doesn't mean a heady batter couldn't take a last instant swipe at the ball. This would have been interference and may result in injury to the catcher.
      Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

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      • #4
        It definetly would be a catchers balk in baseball. I dont know about softball. Had she swung, hell yeah it would be interference. Cant be interference with no catcher-batter contact and no swing though.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Utility07 View Post
          It definetly would be a catchers balk in baseball. I dont know about softball. Had she swung, hell yeah it would be interference. Cant be interference with no catcher-batter contact and no swing though.
          This is a baseball board, and a softball play is being questioned.

          In MY judgement; on THIS play, I wouldn't call interference since the batter wasn't actually hindered. But, some umps might call it because the catcher prevented any possibility of a swing.

          This play has nothing to do with a "catcher's balk" and the rule that you're thinking of, does not apply to this play. Rules 6.08c and 7.07 apply to what this catcher did. Rule 4.03 is sometimes referred to as a "catcher's balk", but I haven't seen it enforced in many, many years.

          This play is actually interference per 6.08c. Rule 7.07 could also apply, but it only applies to plays where a runner is trying to score from third, and the catcher steps on, or in front of the plate.

          When there is no runner trying to score, as was the case in the play described; it is interference and the batter gets first, but other runners only advance if forced, AND if the batter manages to hit the ball even though interfered with, the ball stays live.

          6.08 The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when—
          (c) The catcher or any fielder interferes with him. If a play follows the interference, the manager of the offense may advise the plate umpire that he elects to decline the interference penalty and accept the play. Such election shall be made immediately at the end of the play. However, if the batter reaches first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batsman, or otherwise, and all other runners advance at least one base, the play proceeds without reference to the interference.

          Rule 6.08(c) Comment: If catcher’s interference is called with a play in progress the umpire will allow the play to continue because the manager may elect to take the play. If the batter-runner missed first base, or a runner misses his next base, he shall be considered as having reached the base, as stated in Note of Rule 7.04 (d).



          7.07 If, with a runner on third base and trying to score by means of a squeeze play or a steal, the catcher or any other fielder steps on, or in front of home base without possession of the ball, or touches the batter or his bat, the pitcher shall be charged with a balk, the batter shall be awarded first base on the interference and the ball is dead.

          A balk is charged and the runner from third is awarded home and the ball is dead.


          The play that is sometimes called a "catcher's balk" is 4.03 and it ONLY applies when an intentional walk is being given.

          4.03 When the ball is put in play at the start of, or during a game, all fielders other than the catcher shall be on fair territory.
          (a) The catcher shall station himself directly back of the plate. He may leave his position at any time to catch a pitch or make a play except that when the batter is being given an intentional base on balls, the catcher must stand with both feet within the lines of the catcher’s box until the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand.
          PENALTY: Balk.
          Last edited by jbooth; 05-19-2008, 12:57 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Utility07 View Post
            Cant be interference with no catcher-batter contact and no swing though.

            I think the argument could be made that she was not given the opportunity to swing because the catcher was in the hitting zone.

            Our varsity coach sent me this:

            Rule 8-1D governs Catcher's Obstruction

            ...from article 3, "The catcher steps on or in front of home plate and obstructs the batter from hitting the ball."

            Effect--"Batter is awarded first base and only runners who are forced may move up one base."

            The grey area is that she did not appear to have intended to swing since she lowered her bat, but I don't that the ump would be allowed to assume "no intent to bat". The batter could have, at the last moment, took a swing at the ball regardless of where her bat started from. In this case the catcher was standing on home plate obstructing the batter from hitting the ball.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by jbooth View Post
              This is a baseball board, and a softball play is being questioned.

              This play has nothing to do with a "catcher's balk" and the rule that you're thinking of, does not apply to this play. Rules 6.08c and 7.07 apply to what this catcher did. Rule 4.03 is sometimes referred to, as a "catcher's balk", but I haven't seen it enforced in many, many years.

              What you, and some people call a "catcher's balk" is actually interference, but for scoring purposes the pitcher is charged with a balk. It is rule 7.07 but it only applies to plays where a runner is trying to score from third, and the catcher steps on, or in front of the plate.

              7.07 If, with a runner on third base and trying to score by means of a squeeze play or a steal, the catcher or any other fielder steps on, or in front of home base without possession of the ball, or touches the batter or his bat, the pitcher shall be charged with a balk, the batter shall be awarded first base on the interference and the ball is dead.

              A balk is charged and the runner from third is awarded home and the ball is dead.

              When there is no runner trying to score, as was the case in the play described; it is interference and the batter gets first, but other runners only advance if forced, AND if the batter manages to hit the ball even though interfered with, the ball stays live.

              6.08 The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when—
              (c) The catcher or any fielder interferes with him. If a play follows the interference, the manager of the offense may advise the plate umpire that he elects to decline the interference penalty and accept the play. Such election shall be made immediately at the end of the play. However, if the batter reaches first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batsman, or otherwise, and all other runners advance at least one base, the play proceeds without reference to the interference.

              Rule 6.08(c) Comment: If catcher’s interference is called with a play in progress the umpire will allow the play to continue because the manager may elect to take the play. If the batter-runner missed first base, or a runner misses his next base, he shall be considered as having reached the base, as stated in Note of Rule 7.04 (d).


              The play that is sometimes called a "catcher's balk" is 4.03 and it ONLY applies when an intentional walk is being given.

              4.03 When the ball is put in play at the start of, or during a game, all fielders other than the catcher shall be on fair territory.
              (a) The catcher shall station himself directly back of the plate. He may leave his position at any time to catch a pitch or make a play except that when the batter is being given an intentional base on balls, the catcher must stand with both feet within the lines of the catcher’s box until the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand.
              PENALTY: Balk.
              Once again I appreciate jbooth correcting what I thought I knew. Thanks. Please don't tell my wife I'm as ignorant as I show here.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by DerbyDay03 View Post
                Perhaps the question is this: Does the batter ever relinquish her right to swing at a pitch, assuming she never leaves the batter's box?

                Here's the situation we were in this weekend.

                Girls fast-pitch softball, 14 - 16 YO league.

                Our pitcher hit her leg with her pitching arm and threw a ball that looked like it belonged in a men's slow pitch league. It had about a 12 foot arc and was going to land well short of the plate. Obviously not what she intended to throw.

                As the batter watched the pitch, she came out of her batting stance and lowered her bat. Our catcher stood up, stepped forward onto the plate and caught the ball. The umpire called it a ball. When I spoke to our catcher after the inning she said it was obvious the batter wasn't going to swing, so she figured she would just catch the ball. I calmly instructed her not to do it again.

                Should the umpire have called Catcher's Interference even though it was "obvious" that the batter had no intention of swinging at the pitch? Our catcher was certainly in the hitting zone when she caught the ball. Had it been our batter, I would have argued the call. Would I have won?

                In High School softball rules Rule 8 Article 1(d) states that the batter becomes a batter-runner when the defense "prevents" the batter from striking or hitting a pitched ball. I don't know what rules you were playing under.

                In baseball it is 6.08c. The softball wording is a bit different, but the results are the same. The batter gets first base if the umpire judges that the catcher interfered with a swing or attempted swing.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think the only call that could be possible would be a catchers balk like said above if the catcher was outside of their box. They can't really call catchers interference unless there is contact or some kind of interference.
                  “If there was ever a man born to be a hitter it was me.” - Ted Williams
                  "Didn't come up here to read. Came up here to hit." - Hank Aaron

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by korp View Post
                    I think the only call that could be possible would be a catchers balk like said above if the catcher was outside of their box. They can't really call catchers interference unless there is contact or some kind of interference.
                    That is not at all correct. It's interference, or it's nothing, but it isn't a catcher's balk. The catcher may leave the box once a pitch is released. But, he can't leave it and interfere with the batter.

                    The catcher is supposed to await a pitch from within the box, but the catcher may leave the box to catch a pitch, or make a play. The ONLY restriction is when an intentional walk is being given. And, even then, the restriction is only that he/she can't leave the box until the ball is released by the pitcher, but after that he can leave the box. But, in pro ball they don't even enforce that rule. The catcher must wait in the box, but they let the catcher leave it before the ball is actually released, without penalty.

                    This play has nothing to do with the so-called "catcher's balk." It is interference or nothing, depending on the umps judgment.

                    In fact, in baseball unless the ball comes out of the pitcher's hand and crosses the foul line, it isn't even a pitch.
                    Last edited by jbooth; 05-19-2008, 03:59 PM.

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