Hit By Pitch

One of the most misunderstood rules in the game of softball and baseball are the rules for when a batter is hit by a pitch during their at-bat. Unfortunately, throughout the years, TV and movies have perpetuated the myth that EVERY time a batter is hit by a pitch, they are automatically awarded a free trip to first base.

It is not true!

In order for a batter to earn a free trip to first base when "touched" by a pitch it must satisfy two conditions: the pitch must be outside the strike zone and the umpire must perceive that the batter made an attempt to "avoid being touched by the ball."

From the Little League Rules, 6.00- The Batter (6.08 (b)):

6.08 - The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out

(provided said runner advances to and touches first base) when -

...(b) the batter is touched by a pitched ball which the batter is not attempting to hit unless (1) the ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (2) the batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball.

NOTE: If the ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a strike, whether or not the batter tries to avoid the ball. If the ball is outside the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a ball if that batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched.

A.R.-When the batter is touched by a pitched ball which does not entitle that batter to first base, the ball is dead and no runner may advance.

The practical reality is that at Coast and below, the umpires are more lenient on this rule. Many umpires are parent volunteers who might not understand the nuance or in the face of a crying child are not comfortable with calling a strike or seemingly chastising them for not moving out of the way. Once players get to Majors and Juniors the rule is applied more consistently with the written rule. In fact, at the Juniors World Series in 2017, a Kirkland player was hit by a pitch 3 times in the same at-bat! The first two times, the batter made no effort to move and the umpire called her back from first base to continue her at-bat after she had assumed her free base. The third time, she lifted her front foot and the umpire finally awarded her first base.

Managers and coaches, explain this rule to your players and parents so when the strict wording of the rule is applied within a game, spectators will understand that the rule was applied correctly.

 
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