When Batted Ball Strikes A Runner

Sports Bureau, only two major league games over the past 13 years ended with a baserunner being struck by a batted ball. But on May 2, two games ended in such fashion.

The San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Angels, 5-4, when Featherston, the Angels pinch-runner on first base, was struck by a sharp two-out grounder off the bat of Matt Joyce. Six hours later, the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks, 64 at Dodger Stadium. The game ended when Pacheco of the DBacks was struck while running to second base by a groundball off the bat of David Peralta. In Pachecos case it appeared that he never located the ball running from first to second.

When a runner is struck by a batted ball in routine circumstances, he is called out per rule 7.09 (k) and the batter is credited with a base hit and is awarded first base.

Runners advance only if forced; otherwise they must return to their original base.

When a runner is judged to deliberately interfere with a batted ball with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead and both the runner and batter-run-ner are called out per rule 7.09 (f). This of course is umpire judgment.

The rule was born out of a guileful play by a runner in a game that occurred on April 21, 1957, when the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Braves played at County Stadium in Milwaukee. The culprit was the Reds Don Hoak, who pulled off one of the most dazzling stunts in baseball history and startled the crowd of 20,298.

Hoak was on second base with Gus Bell on first and Wally Post at the plate with one out in the top of the first inning. Post hit a groundball to Braves shortstop Johnny Logan for a seemingly sure double play. However, before Logan could field the ball, Hoak stepped in front, fielded the ball barehanded, and after a moment, reportedly flipped the ball to the confused Logan and trotted off the field. Hoak was ruled out for being “hit” with a batted ball, but Post received credit for a single and Bell advanced to second.

But did the punishment fit the crime? By circumventing the rules, Hoak cleverly kept the Braves from completing a double play and he bought a base hit for Post. Thanks to Hoak, the Lords of Baseball subsequently amended the rule that allows the umpires to rule a double play when the runners act of getting hit by a batted ball is judged to be intentional. Although Hoaks chicanery kept the inning alive, the Reds failed to score and lost the game, 3-1.

When Batted Ball Strikes A Runner

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