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Discussion: effect of interference call by umpire

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Sept. 5, 2017
umpire 14
8 posts
effect of interference call by umpire
As a SSUSA umpire for many years I still have a question about interference. I have talked to umpires about 2 separate plays. Some umpires call them one way, and others another. Play number 1...Runner at 1st base with no outs or one out. Grounder to short of third. Throw to second for force on runner. Umpire calls interference on runner as the 2nd baseman attempts to throw to first to complete double play. But a throw is no done. Some umpires have told me that interference cannot be called because a throw must be made to first base. I have always called interference with or without a throw. Who's right. Play number 2...Same play except that there are runners on first and third at the pitch. Interference called at second. The second out called because of interference is on which runner...the batter-runner or the runner at third. Umpires have disagreed on this. The SSUSA rule book does not mention any effects of these plays. Thanks for any imput.
Sept. 5, 2017
coop3636
401 posts
#1.. there ALWAYS has to be a throw to call interference. (you as an umpire can never assume there was going to be a throw)
I tell my SS he HAS to throw the ball, even if it is a soft throw so he doesn't hurt the player)

#2 (if interference is called, the throw would have to be going to first for the runner from first to be in the way)It will always be the batter runner that will be called out. another reason is that the runner at third is not a force out.
Sept. 5, 2017
B.J.
697 posts
umpire 14...in the past senior softball did require a throw but that has changed...now if in the judgement of the umpire a double play could have been made then you should call it even if the defense doesn't throw the ball... as far as play #2 again it is all judgement if you believe that the defense had an opportunity to make a play on the runner going home then you would have the 2nd out at home if not then you would have the out at 2nd and 1st
Sept. 5, 2017
SlowLearner
19 posts
It is not interference, if the fielder starts to throw and then stops because an offensive player is in his way. Also, interference on a thrown ball, or throw attempt, or tag attempt, must be intentional.
Sept. 5, 2017
coop3636
401 posts
BJ
If senior softball has changed the rule, the umpires don't know it has been changed. (SSUSA)
It happened to us in Birmingham this year and we were told no throw, no interference.

And for a judgment call for the player going home (I forgot it isn't a tag play,) the runner from first would have to come across the bag at 2nd to interfere.. I guess it could happen, but if it did, that would be a easy call.. I still say there must be a throw. just my 2 cents

Thanks for the info.
Sept. 6, 2017
Omar Khayyam
1325 posts
I have not experienced an umpire calling interference ONLY when it was intentional. Perhaps it has been intentional a time or two over the years when a runner tried to protect his batter-runner at first, but that seems to be asking for a throw into the teeth. In most cases in senior ball for me, the obstruction of the throw to first was due to clumsiness, cluelessness, carelessness, lack of agility to veer, inability to slide any more, or senility by the runner coming from first. Never stopped the umpire from calling interference when it was obvious the lane was blocked by the runner and there was a potential double play.

Although I will say, to our team's surprise, the last time this happened this summer, the second baseman did not throw the ball and the umpire told us quietly that if he had thrown it, interference would have been called. It was so obvious to both teams that the runner was coming in standing tall and straight toward the bag, that only a looped high toss could have avoided him, and we were both dumbfounded by the non-call.
Sept. 6, 2017
B.J.
697 posts
slow learner... interference can be called even if the act is unintentional....I went back thru some of my old e-mails with Senior Softball (Dave) and found this reply on a scenario I wrote to him in 2014 asking the same question...I'm sure he will not mind me sharing his answer

Hi Bill ... We have discussed this specific fact pattern on more than one occasion and have reached the conclusion that an actual attempt or actual throw is NOT required ... The principal rationale is safety based ... If the runner is "right in the face" of the defender who has failed to give himself up and get out of the way, a requirement to throw is simply too risky for the base runner getting hit, even though the argument can be made that such a result is of his own creation ... We leave it to the umpire's judgment that the runner interfered to the extent that an accurate throw was not possible, or was prevented from even being attempted safely ... Hope this helps ... Thanks ... DAVE

Sept. 6, 2017
lb16
Men's 50
157 posts
umpire 14, you are not giving a reason for interference. When a runner is forced out at say 2nd unless runner does something intentional to impede throw to 1st there is no interference. If fielder just throws ball and hits runner or doesn't throw because runner is in baseline after being forced out there is no interference. Runner has right to base and can't just disappear after being forced out. It is written that way in every rule book I have seen from mlb down. It is fielders responsibility to throw around runner in these situations!
Sept. 6, 2017
lb16
Men's 50
157 posts
Also forgot to add there doesn't have to be a throw if runner does something intentional to impede throw. It is umpires judgement had there not been interference would fielder have been able to attempt to get out then interference would be called throw or not.
Sept. 6, 2017
mad dog
Men's 65
4174 posts
one....there doesn't need to be a throw for interference......also if it is called(for second scenario)the runners who are out...are the runner at second and the closet runner to home after that.....so the runner at third would also be out in the second play.....
Sept. 6, 2017
stick8
1777 posts
All of which begs the question in the following scenario:
Im the runner on first, no outs. Batter hits a grounder to short. Flip to second to force me out. But I slide into second (which I normally will do if I can get close enough to the bag) and successfully break up the double play throw to first. By what I read above would this be interference on me resulting in a double play?
Sept. 6, 2017
lb16
Men's 50
157 posts
stick8, you're scenario should not warrant an interference call. If you slide out of baseline and contact runner or do anything in baseline such as wave arms jump up in front of fielder etc. Those are grounds for interference. Simply being in baseline after being forced out or sliding into bag and runner in normal fashion is not interference!
Sept. 6, 2017
umpire 14
8 posts
Well guys thanks for the input...but unfortunately I am more confused than before. In reading about rules for many years on the message board , I have been most impressed with B.J.'s knowledge. So I will follow his advice. Also I will be in Vegas for the first 3 sessions. If I run into Dave I will talk to him.
Sept. 6, 2017
doker
Men's 60
185 posts
if the player interferes in the umpires judgement with the fielder on a double play and in his judgement a double play would have been made if no interference had been made it is a double play. runner going to second is out and the closest runner to home is also out.no throw needs to have been made!!!!
Sept. 6, 2017
B.J.
697 posts
umpire 14... don't be confused, in your O/P this was your answer ( I have always called interference with or without a throw) and it was correct... you just needed to add that if in your judgement the defense could have turned a double play .... again the e-mail I posted above was from Dave with the same answer ....have a good trip to Vegas
Sept. 6, 2017
TexasTransplant
Men's 70
515 posts
lb16,

Glad to see you point out the runner's right to the base path. Absent some overt act of interference, he shouldn't be out merely because he is hit with the ball if he is legally in the base path. He can't just go poof and disappear. You hear the mantra "get down or veer off" so often that I fear that it has become dogma to most players and a lot of umpires.
Sept. 7, 2017
curty
Men's 60
178 posts
there are several rule declarations that state that a runner MUST avoid contact with a fielder. In usssa ( should be same in SSUSA) when a runner is retired- put out, he is no longer entitled to anything, includeing base path, which is all the more reason to avoid contact with a fielder. "takeing out" a defensive player at any time in senior ball is morally wrong, and illegal by rule, resulting in the second out being awarded, or sending runners back to the last base prior. IT IS THE RUNNERS responsibilty to avoid contact and umpires need to be aware of this. I personally have seen a number of injuries due to over aggressive runners. As an umpire of 30+ years, i have never hesitated to make this call
Sept. 7, 2017
stick8
1777 posts
Had this play in a conference USSSA game I was impinge a couple years ago. Man on 1st, 1 out. Grounder to second. Fielder bobbles the ball. Extremely fast runner on first is motoring to second. Fielder picks up the ball flips to middle man for the force. Middle man gets rid of ball quickly and throw hits runner who's about 2 strides from second and not out of the baseline. After striking the runner in the hip the ball went right to the second baseman. Play is over. About 50 people from the offensive team side along with the fielders were screaming interference. You make the call. Is that in fact interference?
And in a two umpire system, who's call is that?
Remember this is conference USSSA, not senior ball.
Sept. 7, 2017
lb16
Men's 50
157 posts
Absolutely not interference never has been and never should be! My only question is ball would have still been live so play would not officially been over just because it hit runner.
Sept. 7, 2017
B.J.
697 posts
ok we've changed the original scenario... once the runner is called out he DOES NOT have to leave the base line as long as he does not bump into (interfere)with the defensive player... it is the fielders job to throw over or around him... if a thrown ball hits the runner you have a live ball play on... as long as the runner didn't throw his arms up or move into the path of the ball...
Sept. 7, 2017
stick8
1777 posts
Lb16 you are correct!! To answer your concern, the ball is live.
In a two man system who makes the interference call?
Sept. 7, 2017
B.J.
697 posts
either umpire can make the call...the mechanics that I teach at my clinics with a 2 man system are that normally the base umpire has the call but the home plate should advance out from behind the plate (if no runner on 3rd) and stay focused on 2nd base because many times the interference comes late in the play as the base umpire is turning to get into position to see the call at 1st base
Sept. 8, 2017
TD. Tom
54 posts
in all other associations you may have to throw the ball but in ssusa the 2 years in the rule book it say you do not need to throw the ball. So you can have interference without throwing the ball..In the original question about 1st and 3rd I think you would call the guy out at third otherwise you could crash into the second baseman so the winning run could score(Let's say)I think you would never reward the offence for interference..
Sept. 11, 2017
stick8
1777 posts
BJ you are correct that either ump can call it. But believe it or not the usssa training taught us it's the home plate umpires call. The reasoning is the base umpire will turn to look at the throw to first and may not see the interference--even though he's right there.
Sept. 11, 2017
B.J.
697 posts
stick..lol... I do believe it, read my post above... I teach this mechanic in my umpire clinics...that is why MOVEMENT and POSITIONING is so important
Sept. 12, 2017
stick8
1777 posts
Very true BJ. If umps hustle and get in proper position you can only argue with them so much. 😀 Most players appreciate umpires that do that.
Nov. 5, 2017
Umpire35
2 posts
Interference does not have to be intensional. It is always in the umpires judgement
the reason for this is the safety of the game. If not players would be throwing the ball at players coming into the base just to get a double play.

The rule states: Interference is the act of an offensive player or team member that impedes, hinders or confuses a defensive player attempting to execute a play. Interference maybe in the form of physical contact, verbal distraction, visual distraction, or any type of distraction that hinders a fielder in the execution of a play. Defensive players must be given the opportunity to field the ball anywhere on the playing field or throw the ball without being hindered.
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