Baseball Fielder Right of Way Rules
Oftentimes in baseball, the ball will be put into play near a base runner who is already on base. Base runners must be wary of the ball coming near them and avoid the ball and any fielders at all costs. This concept is known as the fielder right of way rule. The remainder of this piece will discuss the fielder’s right of way in greater detail.
The basic idea of the fielder right of way rule is that the fielders have the right to occupy any space that is needed to field or catch a ball that is put into play. Additionally, they have the right to any space that is needed to field a ball that is thrown their way. Base runners must avoid the fielders at all costs when they are trying to make a play on the ball.
Runners may also not interfere with an ongoing play if they were called out earlier in the play. The one instance in which they do not have to avoid the fielder is if they are standing on a base that they occupy; in that case, they may remain on the base.
The penalty for violating the fielder right of way rule is fairly severe. If a base runner interferes with a fielder when they are trying to field a batted ball, then the batter who hit the ball is automatically called out, and all base runners must return to the base they were at before the ball was hit.
Similarly, if a fielder who is attempting to field a thrown ball is interfered with, then the base runner who is running to the base where the play is trying to be made is ruled out. Base runners must try to avoid fielders; otherwise, they run the risk of giving their team an unnecessary out.
- A batter pops the ball high into the air on the infield with a runner on second base. While the shortstop is attempting to field the ball, the batter runs into the fielder, and the ball hits the ground. The batter is called out, and the base runner must return to second base.
- A batter hits a ground ball to the first baseman, and while he is running to try to get the base, they hit the pitcher, who is attempting to field a throw from the first baseman while covering first base. The batter is called out.
- There is a runner on third base, and the batter hits a ground ball to the third baseman. The third baseman throws to first to get the batter out, and the runner who was on third base attempts to go home. The batter, who was already out, hits the first baseman while they are trying to throw home to get the base runner. The runner who is running home is automatically called out.
Fielder right of way has been around in baseball for a long period of time. Back in the 1800s, when baseball was first introduced, players would often do whatever it took to gain an advantage and win. If this meant trying to interfere with a fielder while they were making a play on the ball, then so be it. Major League Baseball did not want this to be a part of their game, so they introduced the concept of fielder right of way. The concept has since stuck throughout all of baseball outside of the MLB.
Similar Rules to Fielder Right of Way
- Obstruction Rule
- Catcher Interference Rule
- Coaches Interference Rule
What is fielder right of way in baseball?
Fielder right of way in baseball refers to the concept that fielders always have the right to field batted and thrown balls. If a ball is put into play, any base runners must do their best to avoid fielders at all costs. If a base runner interferes with a fielder after a batted ball, then the batter is called out. Similarly, if a base runner interferes with a thrown ball, then the runner who is running to the base where the play is attempting to be made is called out.