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Bizarre look back rule interpretation

Feb 20, 2019
60
18
I was coaching in a 10U tournament a few weeks ago and had a bizarre interpretation of the look back rule. There is a runner on 3B with no outs. Batter hits the ball to SS, SS throws ball to 1B. The ball beats the runner but pulls the 1B off the base and umpire (who is in position behind SS) calls the runner safe at 1B. The 1B coach, having missed the umpire’s call and the 1B being pulled off the base, tells the batter she’s out. The batter goes back towards home on her way to the 3rd base dugout. Catcher throws ball back to pitcher in the circle. Parents and 1B coach finally notice the field umpire still signaling the safe sign and yell at the batter to return to 1B. Batter returns to 1B and pitcher throws the ball to 1B but runner beats the throw. Meanwhile, the runner on 3B scores on the throw to 1B. Safe at home and safe at 1B.

Opposing coach goes to field umpire to argue the call. Field umpire declares runner on 1B out, due to look back rule, because pitcher was in circle and, by making throw to 1B, allowed the run to score. I argued that the 1B runner never stopped in running towards the dugout, then back to 1B, but was overruled.

Was the look back rule applied correctly in this situation?
 
May 29, 2015
1,932
113
Possibly, but not for the reason cited. Using USA Softball rules ...

8AD013EF-6620-45B1-9440-0D9E2A7CABC0.jpeg

So you could have the batter runner out for not returning immediately to first base IF the pitcher had the ball in the circle AND NO play was being made. I would need to see the timing of this but it should have been an immediate call and has NOTHING to do with drawing a play or the runner at third.

From your description, I think I have a runner on first and a run scored based on the pitcher making a play. But as I said, timing is critical.


Let’s look at other options ...

Abandonment — did the runner leave live ball territory? No. Not an option for an out.

Out of the base path — did the runner deviate from her path by more than three feet in order to avoid a tag? No. Not an option for an out.
 
Last edited:
Feb 20, 2019
60
18
Thanks for the quick reply. The batter/runner never came to a complete stop. She ran past 1B into foul territory. Upon being told she was out, she ran back down the base path towards home, but never reached home. She picked up her bat and then realized she was called safe and ran back to 1B. No more than 10 seconds elapsed. Pitcher had the ball in the circle for maybe 3 seconds.

Again, the original call was safe at first and safe at home, but the umpire reversed his decision and called the batter/runner out.
 
May 29, 2015
1,932
113
If the pitcher had the ball for that discernible amount of time and was NOT making a play ... the ball should have been dead and the runner called out then.

In my opinion, a bit of a ticky-tack call at 10u, but it sounds technically correct.

I don’t have an issue with the umpires getting together and changing the call AS LONG AS they are willing to say “I should have made that call right away, so the rest is on me and is correctable. We are going to fix it.”

Oh, and the first base coach should be taking the blame. :)
 
Aug 1, 2019
168
43
South Carolina
As you describe it, I don't see a LBR violation. The moment the pitcher had the ball in the circle, it sounds like the batter-runner was trotting toward home. When she realized what was going on, she immediately stopped and headed back to first. By rule, she is allowed to stop once and then take off for her next base or previous base. Since her only real option here is to head to first base after stopping, which is what she did, she isn't in violation. A bit unorthodox, to be sure, but legally she did nothing wrong that I can see.
 
Sep 29, 2014
2,384
83
As you describe it, I don't see a LBR violation. The moment the pitcher had the ball in the circle, it sounds like the batter-runner was trotting toward home. When she realized what was going on, she immediately stopped and headed back to first. By rule, she is allowed to stop once and then take off for her next base or previous base. Since her only real option here is to head to first base after stopping, which is what she did, she isn't in violation. A bit unorthodox, to be sure, but legally she did nothing wrong that I can see.
Maybe I'm missing something but you said she turned in foul territory then went towards home realized she was safe then returned to first. It's been a while but unless I am missing something she is not in jeopardy of being put out, if the pitcher throws the ball to 1B and she tags her before getting to the base she is still safe as she never turned towards second...again maybe I'm just not understanding something? The only possible reason she could be out is because the umpire is interpreting that her movement was not "non stop" once the pitcher had the ball but that is pretty nit picky, that would mean on a routine safe play at first the 1B could throw ball back to picther and if runner "stopped" to talk to 1B coach in foul territory before touching first she would be out....technically correct I suppose but don't think you will ever see that called
 
Jun 11, 2013
2,143
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Every game is a learning experience. Base coaches are important so the 1B coach needs to make sure he knows what the call is. My guess is that the coach thought the runner was actually out on the throw but it's hard to speculate. I always have the player stay there on a closer play or one I might ask for help on.
 
Feb 20, 2019
60
18
Oh, and the first base coach should be taking the blame. :)
Oh, I did, believe me. My DD (7 Y/O) was the batter in question and it was her first 10U game and "hit." I saw the ball clearly arrive before she reached the base and, because I was crouched down, my view of the umpire was obstructed by the 1B. Still, it was my responsibility to keep the runner on the base and I'll always remember my mistake.

As you describe it, I don't see a LBR violation. The moment the pitcher had the ball in the circle, it sounds like the batter-runner was trotting toward home. When she realized what was going on, she immediately stopped and headed back to first. By rule, she is allowed to stop once and then take off for her next base or previous base. Since her only real option here is to head to first base after stopping, which is what she did, she isn't in violation. A bit unorthodox, to be sure, but legally she did nothing wrong that I can see.
That is correct.

Maybe I'm missing something but you said she turned in foul territory then went towards home realized she was safe then returned to first. It's been a while but unless I am missing something she is not in jeopardy of being put out, if the pitcher throws the ball to 1B and she tags her before getting to the base she is still safe as she never turned towards second...again maybe I'm just not understanding something? The only possible reason she could be out is because the umpire is interpreting that her movement was not "non stop" once the pitcher had the ball but that is pretty nit picky, that would mean on a routine safe play at first the 1B could throw ball back to picther and if runner "stopped" to talk to 1B coach in foul territory before touching first she would be out....technically correct I suppose but don't think you will ever see that called
No, you understood correctly. It was a fairly close play at first, so the runner touched the base and veered off into foul territory. I told her, "Nice try, you almost beat it." Then, she jogged back to home. She may have briefly stopped to ask me if she was out and she may have briefly stopped to pick up her bat on the way back to home plate. However, the umpire never told me she stopped. He told me he called her out because her actions caused the pitcher to make a play at 1B (and I have no idea why they threw the ball to 1B either - the force was already off), which allowed a run to score that otherwise wouldn't have.

The coaches in this 10U C tournament were very ticky-tacky. In another game, batter wrongly thought she had walked on a 3-2 count, ran to 1B. The batter on deck took her bat and threw it back to a coach who put it in the dugout. Batter returned to home plate and couldn't find her bat so she went to the dugout to retrieve it. I'm in the 1B coach's box by the opposing team. The opposing team informs me as an "FYI" that when a batter goes back into the dugout, she's out. I don't think that's correct, but kindly reminded the coach that we are an 8U team playing in our very first 10U tournament.


Every game is a learning experience. Base coaches are important so the 1B coach needs to make sure he knows what the call is. My guess is that the coach thought the runner was actually out on the throw but it's hard to speculate. I always have the player stay there on a closer play or one I might ask for help on.
Your guess is correct, see above. I usually do the same, but the play wasn't that close. I completely missed the 1B being pulled off the bag and didn't see the umpire's signal across the field until it was too late, apparently.
 
Aug 1, 2019
168
43
South Carolina
The coaches in this 10U C tournament were very ticky-tacky. In another game, batter wrongly thought she had walked on a 3-2 count, ran to 1B. The batter on deck took her bat and threw it back to a coach who put it in the dugout. Batter returned to home plate and couldn't find her bat so she went to the dugout to retrieve it. I'm in the 1B coach's box by the opposing team. The opposing team informs me as an "FYI" that when a batter goes back into the dugout, she's out. I don't think that's correct, but kindly reminded the coach that we are an 8U team playing in our very first 10U tournament..
You're right, it's not correct. She was still a batter, not a batter-runner. There is nothing in the rulebook that says a batter is out when she enters the dugout.

Now, she could end up violating the rule requiring her to get into the batter's box and be ready for the next pitch within ten seconds after the pitcher has the ball. But that would be a real nit-pick by the plate umpire to call, especially since it's his/her job to let the batter know the moment she took off for first base that her count was only 3-2.
 
May 29, 2015
1,932
113
10u C says it all ... about the coaches, not the players.

I shouldn’t be so jaded. I am appreciative of ladies and gentlemen who are willing to give up their time for the kids. Unfortunately, all too often they don’t realize that they are learning along side the kids though. ;)
 

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