Baseball Coach Interference Rules
Stationed in foul territory by first base and third base, the base coaches coach the base runners on when they should try to advance and when they should stay at the base they are at. Since they are close to the action, however, they have rules that they must follow so that they do not interfere with the play too much. Find information about the coach interference rule in greater detail below.
There are two aspects to the coach interference rule. The first one involves the ball and the play on the field. A coach is not allowed to intentionally interfere with the ball while it is in play, particularly if it is being thrown toward their base.
If it hits them accidentally, however, then the ball is still live wherever it ends up after it hits the coach. Thus, if the ball hits one of the coaches, then the umpire must determine if it was intentional or accidental.
The other piece to the coach interference rules is a coach assisting a runner sliding into their base. A coach cannot make contact with their base runner, either by grabbing them or pulling them, and try to get them to advance or stay in that manner. They can only assist verbally or with hand signals.
Lastly, a coach is supposed to remain in the coaching box that is painted along the first and third baselines.
If a coach is deemed to have intentionally interfered with a ball that is being thrown towards their base, then the base runner is ruled out no matter the result of the play. However, there is no penalty if the ball accidentally hits the coach during the play.
As for a coach physically assisting a base runner, if they grab or pull a runner towards a base, then the runner will also be called out in that situation. There is no real penalty for a coach simply being outside the coaching box, as the rule is loosely enforced.
- The third base coach intentionally grabs their base runner as they round third base to try and go home, as they do not think the runner will be able to beat the throw home, and they want to keep them at third. The runner is called out because the coach physically assisted them.
- The third base coach sees that a throw coming to third base is going to beat their runner, and they are going to be out, so they jump in front of the ball and deflect it. The runner is called out because the coach intentionally interfered with the ball.
- The batter bunts the ball to try and reach first base, and the catcher picks it up and tries to throw it first. The throw is wild, however, and hits the first base coach, allowing the runner to advance to second. There is no penalty, as the ball accidentally hit the coach.
Throughout the history of baseball, there have been plenty of instances of the coach interference rule being violated. On May 8, 1984, third base coach Jim Leyland tried to assist his base runner Dave Stegman when he fell rounding third base, resulting in Stegman being called out.
It is understandable that Leyland was trying to bend the rules a little, as the game was in the 23rd inning at the time and remains the longest game in MLB history, lasting 25 innings.
Another instance came a year earlier, on September 12, 1983. St. Louis Cardinals third base coach Chuck Hiller also helped his runner Andy Van Slyke to his feet after he slipped coming into third base and fell on top of the Pirates’ third baseman. Like the other instance, Van Slyke was called out for interference.
Similar Rules to Coach Interference
- Catcher Interference Rule
- Obstruction Rule
- Spectator Interference Rule
What is coach’s interference in baseball?
In baseball, coach interference involves the first and third base coaches, who are stationed on the field. These coaches may not intentionally interfere with a ball being thrown to their base; otherwise, the base runner is ruled out. If the ball accidentally hits them, however, then the ball is still alive, and no penalty is called. Additionally, they may not physically assist the runner by grabbing or pulling them; only hand or verbal signals may be used to assist the runner.