SITUATION - 6/19/2012 - The “AAA” batter took ball four and carried the bat with him all the way to first base. The opposing team’s coach immediately protested to the youth umpires and demanded that they call the batter turned runner out.
COACH’S REASONING - The rule book states that the batter is automatically out if he carries his bat to first base.
REALITY - MLB rules, Pony rules, and OYB rules are void of a prohibition on carrying a bat with you to first base. The batter in this 11-12 year old “AAA” instructional league had no malice and was not carrying the bat with him to beat down the first baseman. There was no play at first. There was no contact with a defender. Instead, there was inexperience being displayed on the part of a batter who was overly excited with getting a walk to first base. The coach’s confusion regarding the carrying of the bat rule was probably due to Major League Baseball’s explanations of batter interference and offensive interference. Let’s take a closer look.
MLB RULES - The MLB rules do not directly address carrying a bat to first base. The MLB rules do discuss batter interference and offensive interference.
(c) He interferes with the catchers fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batters box or making any other movement that hinders the catchers play at home base. EXCEPTION: Batter is not out if any runner attempting to advance is put out, or if runner trying to score is called out for batters interference.
Rule 6.06(c) Comment: If the batter interferes with the catcher, the plate umpire shall call interference. The batter is out and the ball dead. No player may advance on such interference (offensive interference) and all runners must return to the last base that was, in the judgment of the umpire, legally touched at the time of the interference.
If, however, the catcher makes a play and the runner attempting to advance is put out, it is to be assumed there was no actual interference and that runner is outnot the batter. Any other runners on the base at the time may advance as the ruling is that there is no actual interference if a runner is retired. In that case play proceeds just as if no violation had been called.
If a batter strikes at a ball and misses and swings so hard he carries the bat all the way around and, in the umpires judgment, unintentionally hits the catcher or the ball in back of him on the backswing before the catcher has securely held the ball, it shall be called a strike only (not interference). The ball will be dead, however, and no runner shall advance on the play.
OFFENSIVE INTERFERENCE - MLB Definition of Terms
(a) Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play. If the umpire declares the batter, batter- runner, or a runner out for interference, all other runners shall return to the last base that was in the judgment of the umpire, legally touched at the time of the interference, unless otherwise provided by these rules.
Rule 2.00 (Interference) Comment: In the event the batter-runner has not reached first base, all runners shall return to the base last occupied at the time of the pitch.
On any interference the ball is dead.
I suppose you could state that the batter confused the fielder, but that was purely by accident since he neither obstructed, impeded, or hindered any fielder because he was walked and was awarded the base.
If the batter had hit the ball and carried the bat, then there might be some feasible argument as a catcher may be throwing down and hit the bat or the batter-runner hits the first baseman with the bat as he passes first. Rest assured, if the runner is carrying the bat and interferes with a defensive player, the umpire will immediately call interference and the offending player will be declared out.
IF INTERFERENCE IS CALLED, then...
- If the batter hasn't reached first base at the time of the interference call, all other runners must return to the base occupied during the pitch.
- If the runner has reached first base before the time of interference, then the runners are returned to the last legally touched base.