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Ask the Ump – Play 23

The Running Lane to 1st Base

Play: After a dropped third strike, my batter walks back to the dugout, but he doesn’t enter the dugout. What is the baseline for him to run to first base?

Ruling: This situation may pose problems depending on (1) where the batter actually is located when he/she decides to run to 1st base, and (2) the path he/she chooses to take in doing so. If the batter has walked completely back to the dugout or team bench and decides then to run, he/she must return to the established baseline from home to 1st. Usually, this baseline is clearly drawn on the field.

Staying in Your Lane

For example, the batter is not entitled to run in a direct line from a point immediately in front of his/her team bench to 1st base. In this instance, the covering umpire may rule the batter out for running outside the baseline.

A properly trained umpire will exercise reasonable discretion and use appropriate judgment in the case of a batter who walks only a few steps away from the home plate area before deciding to run.

Sources: MLB 7.08(e, j); NFHS 7.4.1(b.1), 8.1.1(b), 8.4.2(a)

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