Hit By Pitch

Beliefs:

  1. Batters always get first base if they are hit by a pitch.
  2. The hands are part of the bat
  3. The batter does not get a base, if he didn’t try very hard to avoid being hit
  4. The batter does not get a base, if the ball hits the ground first
Realities:

1.   You always hear this one from the Coach on the hitting team.  (Note: I don't like using the term "offensive" coach, because sometimes the Coaches can be very polite :-)  
Anyhow, this is only true sometimes.  There are many cases where this does not apply:
i)     If the pitch was in the strike zone.  It is ruled a strike and a dead ball
ii)    If the batter was swinging (including a check swing appealed to be a swing).  It is also ruled a strike and a dead ball
iii)   If the batter makes no attempt to avoid the pitch.  It is ruled a ball and a dead ball.

As an Umpire, every single time a batter was hit and I didn't award him a base, the Coach came out to argue.  Coaches - please learn this rule and don't make the Umpire think you're a fool and maybe not listen to you as closely as he should later on in the game for a different situation.

2. Many Coaches (not surprisingly only defensive Coaches ever speak up about this one) believe that if a batter is hit in the hand, it is treated the same as if it hit the bat, and he is not awarded first base.    This is incorrect.  The hands are part of …… your body! Seriously!  Look down at the end of your arm if you don’t believe me.    Nowhere in the rule book is there a reference to the hands being part of the bat.  The only times that being hit in the hand do not result in a base being awarded are if any of the 3 situations listed above happened when they were hit in the hands.  As well, sometimes a ball will hit a batter’s hand and the bat at the same time.  In those cases, it is ruled a foul (dead) ball.

3.   This is the corollary to  Situation 1. (iii) above.   I hear this one a lot when a slow pitch is coming at the batter, and he barely moves, gets hit by the pitch, and happily starts running towards 1st base.   If he stands absolutely motionless as the pitch is coming, then the umpire may decide to not award him 1st base, but as long as he makes the slightest twitch, then by rule he is awarded the base.  It is not up to the umpire to judge how hard the batter tried to avoid being hit by the pitch.  It only matters that an attempt was made, no matter how feeble it was.  The rule says he does not get a base only if he makes "no attempt to avoid being touched”

4. The rule (as referenced below) is pretty black and white.  It says the batter gets a base if he is touched by a pitched ball. Nowhere does it say, "except if it bounces first".

Reference:
Rule 6.08(b)
"The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when he is touched by a pitched ball which he 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;
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 he makes no attempt to avoid being touched.
APPROVED RULING: When the batter is touched by a pitched ball which does not entitle him to first base, the ball is dead and no runner may advance."


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