Three Inner Baseball Rules Questions



Beyond “balls and strikes”, there are subtle rules questions which sometimes elude us who have been playing and then watching the game for seventy years. We’ll own up to that always challenging affliction, when it rears its head, like now, and even invite any of you who know the definitive answers to dive in here, chapter and verse, and enlighten us on the correct ruling in each of these two cases. We also have what may be more of a “baseball culture” question that connects to one of these recently generated game questions. Please give us a comment on any or all of the three total questions.

Item No. 1: In our column You Win Some, You Lose Some” of the other day, we reported on the facts of a ruling from 1949 Houston Buffs game. Here’s that reported again:

HOUSTON, June 4 (AP) — The Shreveport Sports scored two runs in the seventh to come from behind and take a 3-2 protested decision from the Houston Buffs here Saturday night. The Sports’ runs came with one out when [Lewis] Davis doubled with [Howard] Auman and [Vernon] Petty on base.

Manager Del Wilber of Houston protested the game with two out in the third inning with Bud Hardin at the plate. Hardin swung at a pitched ball and when the bat connected with the ball, the bat broke in two with the ball rolling into fair territory. The top part of the bat then hit the ball for the second time, knocking it into left field over third base.

The umpires first ruled it a base hit and Hardin held first base. However, following a consultation between the umpires, it was ruled that any ball hit a second time on the same play by a bat, the batter is out.

~ Galveston Daily News, June 5, 1949.

Question No. 1: Were the umpires correct in calling Bud Hardin out for hitting the ball twice with his bat on the same pitch? Buffs manager Del Wilber didn’t think so and protested the game. His presumptive thinking was that this incident didn’t fit the existing rule that prohibits a batter striking at a ball twice on the same pitch. What made it different? Once the bat broke into two pieces, it was no longer a bat but a piece of flying junk – and completely out of the batter’s control on any second contact with a piece of wood that was no longer a bat. This piece of wood struck the ball – knocking it into left field for a base hit – which it might have been done had the ball collided with anything else solid enough that suddenly appeared in the field of play – like an animal running across the field and causing the ball to be redirected to an unreachable place in fair territory by incidental contact.  We support Wilber’s protest on this one, but it’s doubtful the Texas League allowed his protest. They would have been forced to think too much to see the point we are trying to make here. – We’ve always presumed this “batter out” rule for double-bat contact on one pitch was to punish the intent of any batter who fouled a ball at the plate and made it an easy target on low bounce rises from the first contact in that home plate area to be golfed again by the batter by intent with a very quick second swing contact with the same one-pitched ball. In the Hardin case here, there was no intent to strike the ball twice since flying pieces of wood lack the capacity for intentional action in any situation without intentional human action putting a piece of wood in motion for that purpose in a way that could be predicted and controlled – and, obviously,  the human element of control was totally missing in this matter.

Given these suppositions, what do you think, or know, of the Wilber case for protest on the basis of the fore-stated grounds?


Item No. 2: A scoring question that arose from an OOTP (Out-Of-The-Park) simulation baseball game I played a couple of nights ago.

The Facts: As manager of the home team 1951 Cardinals, my club was trailing the Phillies, 8-2, going into our time at bat in the bottom of the 7th. We then scored 5 runs in that frame, highlighted by a grand slam HR by Bill Howerton. We were really pumped. Going into the top of the 8th, we now trailed by only 8-7, with two more innings to go. We could take this thing, if our pitching could only hold down the Phils from scoring again in the 8th or 9th.

Del Ennis led off the top of the 8th by blasting a 2-2 pitch from reliever Dick Bokelmann to left center for a double. Then, with a 1-0 count on catcher Andy Seminick, it happened.

Here came the rains. And although rain isn’t too visible in sim baseball, it apparently was enough for the robotic umpires to call the game, My Cardinals lost, 8-7, after coming back from being 6 runs down and allured again by hope that 2 more innings to play might be enough time and space foor a redemptive miracle rally win.

But no. That was all now taken away by programmable weather.

Question No. 2: When a game is called because of rain in the top of  the 8th, doesn’t the score revert to the winner being the team that was leading through the 7th? That would have made the Phils an 8-7 winner over the Cards and erased the double by Ennis in the 8th, right? That is not the way  OOTP handled it. OOTP scored it an 8-inning game, shortened by rain, even though Del Ennis and Andy Seminick (for one pitch) were the only batters to appear in that inning. The double by Ennis remained in credit in the box score. I love the OOTP game, but I think they have a program flaw to take care of here.

Question No. 3: This was a frustrating game to lose in simulation. I can only imagine how touch it would be to comeback from that far down in a real game and have the game-chances then killed by a rain out. How long do you think real umpires would take to call a real game that got this close in the manner this one did – this late in the game?

Let us hear from you!


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas


4 Responses to “Three Inner Baseball Rules Questions”

  1. Cliff Blau Says:

    On #2: unless the visiting team ties or takes the lead in the incomplete inning, the game ends at the moment it is called. Only if the lead changes hands does it revert to the last complete inning.

  2. Cliff Blau Says:

    Re: #1: According to my copy of Knotty Problems of Baseball (copyright 1970), the batter is out even though the act was unintentional.

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