QUESTION - Why is it always so confusing when there is a wild throw out of play? Does the runner get one extra base or two? Last night the ball was hit to the shortstop and he tossed the ball to second for the first out and the second baseman tagged the bag and then hucked the ball wild into the dugout for a very late throw to get the runner out at first. Should the runner at first get to go to second or third base?
ANSWER - The answer is that it depends. Since this was a secondary throw it depends on where the runners were, in the umpire’s judgment, when the ball was released by the errant thrower. On a primary throw the ruling is made from where runners were when the ball was hit. Bases are then awarded from that point.
RULES - The Official Rules of Major League Baseball cover the wild throw scenarios in section 7.05(g-i).
7.05 Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance --
(g) Two bases when, with no spectators on the playing field, a thrown ball goes into the stands, or into a bench (whether or not the ball rebounds into the field), or over or under or through a field fence, or on a slanting part of the screen above the backstop, or remains in the meshes of a wire screen protecting spectators. The ball is dead. When such wild throw is the first play by an infielder, the umpire, in awarding such bases, shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the ball was pitched; in all other cases the umpire shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the wild throw was made;
APPROVED RULING: If all runners, including the batter-runner, have advanced at least one base when an infielder makes a wild throw on the first play after the pitch, the award shall be governed by the position of the runners when the wild throw was made.
Rule 7.05(g) Comment: In certain circumstances it is impossible to award a runner two bases. Example: Runner on first. Batter hits fly to short right. Runner holds up between first and second and batter comes around first and pulls up behind him. Ball falls safely. Outfielder, in throwing to first, throws ball into stand.
APPROVED RULING: Since no runner, when the ball is dead, may advance beyond the base to which he is entitled, the runner originally on first base goes to third base and the batter is held at second base.
The term when the wild throw was made means when the throw actually left the players hand and not when the thrown ball hit the ground, passes a receiving fielder or goes out of play into the stands.
The position of the batter-runner at the time the wild throw left the throwers hand is the key in deciding the award of bases. If the batter-runner has not reached first base, the award is two bases at the time the pitch was made for all runners. The decision as to whether the batter-runner has reached first base before the throw is a judgment call.
If an unusual play arises where a first throw by an infielder goes into stands or dugout but the batter did not become a runner (such as catcher throwing ball into stands in attempt to get runner from third trying to score on passed ball or wild pitch) award of two bases shall be from the position of the runners at the time of the throw. (For the purpose of Rule 7.05 (g) a catcher is considered an infielder.)
PLAY. Runner on first base, batter hits a ball to the shortstop, who throws to second base too late to get runner at second, and second baseman throws toward first base after batter has crossed first base. Ruling - Runner at second scores. (On this play, only if batter-runner is past first base when throw is made is he awarded third base.)
(h) One base, if a ball, pitched to the batter, or thrown by the pitcher from his position on the pitchers plate to a base to catch a runner, goes into a stand or a bench, or over or through a field fence or backstop. The ball is dead;
APPROVED RULING: When a wild pitch or passed ball goes through or by the catcher, or deflects off the catcher, and goes directly into the dugout, stands, above the break, or any area where the ball is dead, the awarding of bases shall be one base. One base shall also be awarded if the pitcher while in contact with the rubber, throws to a base, and the throw goes directly into the stands or into any area where the ball is dead.
If, however, the pitched or thrown ball goes through or by the catcher or through the fielder, and remains on the playing field, and is subsequently kicked or deflected into the dugout, stands or other area where the ball is dead, the awarding of bases shall be two bases from position of runners at the time of the pitch or throw.
(i) One base, if the batter becomes a runner on Ball Four or Strike Three, when the pitch passes the catcher and lodges in the umpires mask or paraphernalia.
If the batter becomes a runner on a wild pitch which entitles the runners to advance one base, the batter-runner shall be entitled to first base only.
Rule 7.05(i) Comment: The fact a runner is awarded a base or bases without liability to be put out does not relieve him of the responsibility to touch the base he is awarded and all intervening bases. For example: batter hits a ground ball which an infielder throws into the stands but the batter-runner missed first base. He may be called out on appeal for missing first base after the ball is put in play even though he was awarded second base.
If a runner is forced to return to a base after a catch, he must retouch his original base even though, because of some ground rule or other rule, he is awarded additional bases. He may retouch while the ball is dead and the award is then made from his original base.
Is that all clear as mud? Most fans and many coaches think the rule is that everybody gets one base on an out of play over throw, but that is not the case. This is a section of the rule book that I think many people glaze over long before they get to the rulings, but there are numerous scenarios that all get ruled upon a bit differently.
The easiest way to break the “Wild Throw” rule down is to:
1) Determine if the wild throw was a primary or secondary throw. If it was primary, then you get two bases from where the runners were at the time the ball was hit (unless all runners including the batter-runner had already advanced at least one base when the wild throw was made).
If it was a secondary throw, then you get two bases from where the runners were at the time the wild throw was released by the thrower.
2) Determine if the Pitcher making a wild out of play throw had his foot on the rubber: If his foot was on the rubber - One base is awarded.
If he stepped off the rubber and became a fielder - Two bases are awarded.
From the website www.RulesOfBaseball.com they have a catcher’s interference test question...
Runner on first, stealing on the pitch. The batter hits a ground ball to the shortstop, who throws to second, but R1 is safe at second. The second baseman then tries to throw out the batter-runner, but the ball gets by the first baseman and goes into the dugout, out of play. Ruling?
- R1 stays at second, batter-runner stays at first.
- R1 to third, batter-runner to second.
- R1 scores, batter-runner to second.
- R1 scores, batter-runner to third.
The correct answer is "3," R1 scores and the batter-runner is awarded second.