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Obstruction?

Jun 22, 2008
3,355
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As long as the runner is still between the 2 bases where obstruction occured the obstruction is not cancelled just because the runner reached the base the umpire judged they would have.

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MTR

Jun 22, 2008
3,432
48
As long as the runner is still between the 2 bases where obstruction occured the obstruction is not cancelled just because the runner reached the base the umpire judged they would have.

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Sometimes, not always
 
May 16, 2016
427
28
Illinois
I’m going to go out on a limb and say many umpires understand the rule, but they are very conservative (read: safe) with their judgment.

In the OP, I’d need to see where the ball is, the extent of the obstruction, and how the defense is playing it. As presented, I’m not likely to give a runner home when she gives up and retreats after a few steps. In my view, the way the rule is written it essentially provides a “free play” for the offense; I’m not likely to reward them for not taking it.

I would venture that most umpires want to see it play out so they make a good judgement call. We don’t want to speculate more than we have to.

Admittedly, too many don’t understand the rule as well ...
Just for clarification. Let us go with a similar play as the original post.

The runner is obstructed by the 3rd baseman as she is rounding 3rd. Runner retreats back to the 3rd base, then notices obstruction is called. After she notices that the umpire called obstruction she runs home and is thrown out at the plate. Does the runner get to score or does she get returned to 3rd base? Is there any scenario where the runner can be called out?
 
May 29, 2015
1,013
113
Just for clarification. Let us go with a similar play as the original post.

The runner is obstructed by the 3rd baseman as she is rounding 3rd. Runner retreats back to the 3rd base, then notices obstruction is called. After she notices that the umpire called obstruction she runs home and is thrown out at the plate. Does the runner get to score or does she get returned to 3rd base? Is there any scenario where the runner can be called out?
I will clarify that this applies to USA, USSSA, PGF, and NFHS ... I’m not familiar with other codes ...

If she actually went back to third and touched third base, I’m dropping the obstruction and she could be called out. (Unless I felt the obstruction prevented her from scoring initially.)

If she has not touched third base ... No, there is no scenario where the runner can be called out. Personally, I don’t like this logic, but each codes’ rule states the runner cannot be called out between the two bases where the obstruction occurred.

Why do I not agree with that logic? Situations like what you presented where the play fundamentally changes and the obstruction has no influence on the play.

Actual example I experienced: R2 and R3. Wild pitch and the runners are running ... SS clearly obstructs R2. R3 gets about 20 feet from home plate, changes her mind, and retreats back to 3rd base. R3 and R2 are now standing on third base. Defense tags them both.

Normally, R2 would be out. She has no legal right to third base since R3 never advanced to home. However, we had obstruction on the SS so R2 cannot be called out by rule. R2 goes back to second base (we cannot advance her to third). Did the obstruction have any influence on the play? No. But the runner gets the benefit anyway.
 
Jun 22, 2008
3,355
63
Obstruction is not cancelled as long as the runner is still between the 2 bases where the obstruction occured until 2 separate criteria are met. 1, the obstructed runner must reach the base they would have in the umpires judgement absent the obstruction AND 2, there must be a subsequent play on a different runner. Until BOTH criteria are met the obstruction is not cancelled and the runner cannot be put out between the 2 bases.

So no, if the runner returns to third and then attempts to advance home she still cannot be put out by the defense

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Aug 20, 2017
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Not trying to hijack thread but does there have to be contact made between runner and defensive player to have obstruction? Or can you have obstruction without contact?
 
Aug 20, 2017
400
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Thanks Comp! Umpire told me that following a run down we had between 3B and HP. My runner was basically trying to dodge the catcher that didn’t have the ball and was standing on the chalk making the foul line. I complained. He said no contact was made therefore no obstruction.
 
May 29, 2015
1,013
113
Obstruction is not cancelled as long as the runner is still between the 2 bases where the obstruction occured until 2 separate criteria are met. 1, the obstructed runner must reach the base they would have in the umpires judgement absent the obstruction AND 2, there must be a subsequent play on a different runner. Until BOTH criteria are met the obstruction is not cancelled and the runner cannot be put out between the 2 bases.

So no, if the runner returns to third and then attempts to advance home she still cannot be put out by the defense

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It may be how I am envisioning the scenario ... and mainly how I am interpreting “between two bases” if the runner has gone back to third and is there (stops, looks around, etc.). I do not consider her to still be between the two bases. If she stays put, after the play is dead I may still award her home dependent on whether the obstruction caused her to retreat.

If she has gone back and been on third safely, stops, looks around, and then decides to make a second attempt at home, to me that is a separate attempt to advance and a different play. If she gets tagged out, I may still give her home on the initial obstruction ... but if I didn’t think she was going to reach home the first time, I’m not going to protect her on the second attempt. To me, she reached third safely and attempted to advance beyond the protection.


Theoretical: R1 stealing, batter pops the ball up, R1 rounds second and crashes into F6. Realizing the ball had been popped up, R1 retreats back to first base (properly touching second again). F8 fires to F3 and throws the ball away. R1 retouches first, rounds second, and heads to third while F3 chases the ball down. F3 fires to F5 who tags the incoming runner ... ??
 
Last edited:
Jun 22, 2008
3,355
63
By rule you have no choice but to continue to protect her, you cant simply chose to cancel the obstruction based on your own personal misinterpretation of the rule. Nowhere in the rule does it say anything about secondary attempts. The rule says the runner cannot be put out by the defense between the 2 bases where the obstruction occurred and the only way the obstruction is cancelled is that 2 separate criteria have to be met. She has to reach the base she would have absent obstruction AND there must be a subsequent play on a different runner. Until both of those requirements are met the obstruction is still in effect.

This has gone round and round on various discussion boards with may arguing exactly what you are claiming, that once the runner went back to third (the base the umpire judged to be the base they would have reached) the obstruction is cancelled. The first major argument on this was about 3 years ago where a play in a state playoff game had a pick off attempt of a runner at 2nd by the catcher. The runner was obstructed getting back to 2nd, and that is where the umpire judged the runner would have reached. The ball was overthrown into center, the runner attempted to run to third and was easily thrown out. The umpires ruled the runner out since she had safely gotten back to 2nd base, the coach asked for a ruling from the UIC who backed the umpires on the out call. The call was not correct as the rule requires a subsequent play on a different runner to cancel the obstruction.

After this was hashed out, with many still disagreeing, I posted a play that actually happened to me. Batter hits a ground ball to short that should be an easy play and out. Short throws the ball in the dirt and F3 cant field the ball with it going clear to the fence. The batter now tries to round 1st and she and F3 get tangled up. I call obstruction, runner takes 2 or 3 more steps toward 2nd, thinks better of it as F9 was in position backing up the play and she would have been out by a mile at 2nd. Runner returns to 1st and ball is thrown back to the pitcher who is standing just outside the circle. For whatever reason the base coach now tells the runner I had called obstruction and she gets 2nd base. Runner very non chalantly starts trotting to 2nd base and the pitcher runs over and tags her out. I call time and put the runner back on 1st base and of course the defensive coach wants to argue. As with the previous play I just mentioned numerous umpires insisted the obstruction was cancelled as soon as the runner returned to 1st base. Another official (who by the way was on the obstruction being cancelled side) with ties to NFHS national submitted the play for a ruling. It took them a while, but about 2 years ago they actually issued a ruling on the NFHS website stating exactly what the rule says. Once a runner is obstructed, the only way the obstruction is cancelled is that the runner must reach the base they would have absent obstruction AND there must be a subsequent play on a different runner. Until both of those requirements are met, the obstruction is still in place and the runner cannot be put out between the 2 bases where obstruction occurred.
 

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