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Obstruction Rule

May 8, 2008
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I need some help on this one. Last night we had a runner on 3rd, on the first pitch she breaks toward home, the catcher runs her back to 3rd. The catcher throws the ball back to the pitcher while she is up the line, the runner takes off toward home & runs into the catcher who is in the baseline without the ball, the ump calls the runner out saying that the runner must avoid contact with the fielder, he also said he could have thrown her out of the game because she went into the catcher with her arms up (just trying to protect herself). The question is, does the runner have to avoid contact? I have always told my players if the fielder is obstructing them, they should make contact with the fielder (not looking to hurt anyone). The ump said the runner should run around the fielder & that is obstruction.
To Bump or not To Bump? That is the question.
 
Jun 22, 2008
3,224
48
Ump blew the call. You can not be in the base path and impede the runner without having the ball. The only exception to this would be a fielder making a play on a batted ball. In this situation just as the umpire said, has to run around the fielder.

Now, as for throwing the arms up, wasnt there, didnt see it, but generally speaking if a runner raises their arms up for contact or lowers a shoulder, the ump is going to toss them.
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,845
63
Dallas, Texas
A runner is out if he/she interferes with a fielder throwing or catching a ball, or intentionally interferes with a thrown ball. (NCAA Rule 12.9.7) On the other hand, the fielder cannot block the base line without the ball or "not in the immediate act of catching the ball". (NCAA Rule 12.14.1) Incidental contact, on the other hand, is neither obstruction nor interference (NCAA Rule 12.15). (This is beginning to sound very much like a politician agreeing with everyone.)

SO:

(1) If the pitcher had received the ball and was in the act of throwing it back to the catcher or the ball was in the air, then the runner is out.
(2) If the catcher wasn't in the act of catching the ball, then it was obstruction.


The comments to the NCAA rules say that the umpire may consider whether the contact was intentionally caused by the fielder or the runner in reaching a conclusion. So, the ump could have said that your runner intentionally ran into the catcher, and therefore is out.

Teaching your players to run into players from the other team is a little "too cute". Umpires don't have to call obstruction just because there is physical contact. Further, you are assuming that the umpire will even see the obstruction. In games where there are only 1 or 2 umpires, obstruction is often missed.
 
Jun 22, 2008
3,224
48
ASA definition of Obstruction

The act of a defensive team member:

A:Who hinders or impedes a batter from striking at or hitting a pitched ball

B:A fielder, who impedes the progress of a runner or batter-runner who is legally running the bases unless the fielder is:
1:in possession of the ball
2:in the act of fielding a batted ball.

Note: Contact is not necessary to impede the progress of the runner.
 
May 7, 2008
110
0
As with EVERY rule...there is the letter of the law AND there is the umpire's assesment of the entire play. I would imagine his thought process was that the runner intentionally ran into the defenseless catcher rather than taking a small step around the catcher and walking home. Your runner wasn't in jeopardy of scoring. If the contact was made which would have caused the runner to be out at home, then the ump may have called obstruction. Lastly, raising her arms was probably not seen as just protecting herself.

JMHO

Keith
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,845
63
Dallas, Texas
Under the NAFA, NCAA and the AFA rules, if the runner intentionally makes contact with a person attempting to catch a thrown ball, then the runner is out. Under the ASA and NSA rules, a runner is out if he/she intentionally interferes with a thrown ball.

Without being there, I'll go with the umpire's call. mksoftball has already said that his girl did intentionally run into the catcher. So, the only question is whether the ball had been thrown or not.
 

Ken Krause

Administrator
Admin
May 7, 2008
3,447
48
Mundelein, IL
Sounds like obstruction, but without seeing the play it's hard to know for sure. How close was the runner to the catcher when she started back toward home? Was the catcher blocking her way or standing their spacing out? Lots of judgments going on.

The big question is, without running into the catcher would your runner have made it home? If she would've been out anyway, in the judgment of the umpire, she's out. Obstruction only applies if the runner would've made it had she not been impeded. It's a delayed dead ball until the play is played out.
 
Jun 22, 2008
3,224
48
Per ASA, again, contact is not necessary for there to be obstruction. If the ball was not on the way to the catcher and the catch not immanent, she should not have been in the base path. The runner should not even have to step around her, if she does have to step around, it is obstruction.

If the umpire signals for an obstruction, the runner can not be put out between the base she left, and the base she is going to. Even if the umpire feels she would not have made it anyway, by rule she is returned to the base she came from.
 

MTR

Jun 22, 2008
3,332
38
Sounds like obstruction, but without seeing the play it's hard to know for sure. How close was the runner to the catcher when she started back toward home? Was the catcher blocking her way or standing their spacing out? Lots of judgments going on.

The big question is, without running into the catcher would your runner have made it home? If she would've been out anyway, in the judgment of the umpire, she's out. Obstruction only applies if the runner would've made it had she not been impeded. It's a delayed dead ball until the play is played out.

Speaking ASA

This is not correct. It doesn't make any difference how far the catcher was from anywhere or anyone. It also doesn't make any difference if she would have been put out. The OBS runner cannot be called out between the two bases where she was obstructed.

The ONLY way this is not obstruction is if the umpire judged the runner ran at the catcher for the purpose of drawing an OBS call. If the instigated contact is judged to be unsportsmanlike conduct, the player could be ejected.
 

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