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Discussion: Courtesy Runners from the plate

Posted Discussion
July 10, 2014
Cougar
11 posts
Courtesy Runners from the plate
In our senior softball league we allow a courtesy runner for the batter at home plate with a line drawn approx. 20 down the first base line that the batter can not cross should he attempt to run. If he does cross that line, he is automatically out.

Here is the scenario:

Score is tied and bottom of the 9th with the winning run on 1st base and one out. The batter, who has a courtesy runner, blasts one over the left center fielders head and attempts to run to first, crossing the 20 ft. commitment line along with his runner, resulting in the umpire calling the batter out.

Meanwhile, the runner on first base is able to score thus ending the game.

What’s the call? Should the play have ended with the batter being called out for crossing the line (as in a Delayed Dead Ball) and the base runner forced to return to 1st base? Or was the umpire correct in letting the play continue, allowing the base runner to advance and ultimately score?

While our league rules recognize the 20 ft. rule as being an out if the batter crosses that line, it does not address what happens to the ensuing action that follows. Quite understandably since nothing like this has ever happened before......

What are your thoughts?

July 10, 2014
Duke
Men's 60
708 posts
This is an individual league situation, and probably has not been addressed in any rule anywhere. In our league, there is the same courtesy runner rule, but no 20 foot line as you indicated. Now that this situation has taken place in your league, you need to come up with a ruling for a future occurence. THe only similar rule would be when a runner passes the runner in front of them and is called out, and the other runners continue to advance????

Andy Smith,
R & R Strokers,
60 Major
July 11, 2014
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
608 posts
Wow, I have only ever seen a courtesy runner at leagues in Shelbyville (held onto rope tied to backstop that had to hold onto until ball hit) and special olympics (runner had to stay behind a line until ball was hit). The line you talk about is an interesting twist, but why would a batter even run if they had a courtesy runner from the plate? I am not even going to wager a guess on what should be done since the batter should not run at all. I was always more concerned about the runner leaving early because they were behind me.
July 11, 2014
Omar Khayyam
994 posts
Our league also allows a runner from home for a temporarily (e.g. hamstring problem) or permanently (e.g. artificial hip) disabled batter. As with other leagues above, the runner must begin behind the batter (in our case, quite a few feet behind). But we have no 20 foot rule or anything like it. The only time a batter tries to run is when it is a temporary situation, and in a senior moment, the runner takes off for a few steps on instinct. It doesn't interfere with the play at first. The courtesy runner is well wide of the batter. Usually the batter doesn't run more that a few steps (especially when the courtesy runner rushes by him on his right). And it sometimes results in a good-natured laugh at the batter's embarrassment. What does a 20 foot line accomplish?
July 12, 2014
taits
Men's 65
4357 posts
Understand the situation. My thought on it is that the rules committee needs to address the problem(s) left out but the play stands as called.
Good example of 20\20 hindsight.
July 12, 2014
HJ
Men's 70
438 posts
We have a similar rule. The above scenario has happened to us twice this season in league play. The line was inserted so as not to confuse fielders respecting who is running to 1st base.
I believe the effect of crossing the line in our league is the batter is out and all runners return to where they were when the play started.
Incidentally, the runners are always running too soon and it is never called because the ump is looking at the mat.

Nancy, it is caused by a senior moment coupled with years of trying to get a fast start. The same guy on our team did it twice.

I like the runner starting way back and like the ball, although our league will never do either. I personally believe there should be no runner for the batter. Isn't getting to first slowly part of the game for some hitters? Alternatively, if you can't run to first you should be required to be the catcher or right fielder, no the shortstop, etc.
July 13, 2014
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
608 posts
HJ, I definitely get the senior moment. The people in senior and special olympic leagues that needed this could not run; so if your example keeps getting out, maybe he should wait to get that courtesy runner at first for now (tell him Nancy said so - silly girl). League special rules are sometimes the oddest ones ever. I have a league that I do that the courtesy runner cannot go more than on base. Of course the ball stays live; so sometimes the young runner gets out trying to get back to that bag after passing it. Another one the courtesy runner can only be the last batted out; so if you are in the first inning, there may not be one, so no runner available. I agree with some of the others on this one, especially since it is almost always just a force out at first. Since the runner in question should not confuse the fielders on the force, I think the league should save the chalk and eliminate the line. Maybe you could tie a rope to your repeat offender or just let him run for himself to first.
July 13, 2014
Omar Khayyam
994 posts
HJ, for tournament play, I get the elimination of the courtesy runner from home. But for a league like ours, where players have been buddies and participants for more than 3 decades in senior softball, there is always a compassionate allowance for the now permanently disabled player who can still swing a bat. 90% of the time the player does play catcher, since it is the least mobile position in mixed league play. But there are legitimate cases of a player requesting a runner from home and still able to field at first base…or third base…or right field…or as a rover (we let everyone play who is present, so we frequently have some rovers). We even had a temporarily disabled shortstop whose team valued his arm so much they took the chance that he could hobble to field a ball and still function a bit at short. Hard to make firm and fast rules for courtesy runners in league play.
July 14, 2014
HJ
Men's 70
438 posts
Omar, our league is competitive. You are probably nicer than I and I probably take league play too seriously. That said, in our league I see the courtesy runner abused so it actually becomes a tactical benefit. If the rules were changed so the substitute runner arrived about when a slow able-bodied runner would, I would have no problem.
July 14, 2014
Omar Khayyam
994 posts
HJ, I agree. Most courtesy runners a manager chooses to go from home are not the slower players on the team! It does become tactical at times instead of just any old guy running to help a teammate.
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