Baseball Interference Rules


Baseball Interference

Interference is when a person (be it coach, player, or fan) illegally disrupts the game or changes the course of the play in ways that are not allowed or expected to happen. Interferences vary in degrees of severity, and different rules decide the penalty for different kinds of interference. There are few types of interference you should know:

  • Offensive Interference
  • Defensive Interference
  • Catcher's Interference
  • Batter Interference
  • Umpire's Interference
  • Spectator Interference (Fan Interference)
  • Obstructions

Spectator Interference

You do not have to be playing on the field to be charged with interference. Spectators, including fans and staff members who are not a part of the team itself, commit interference when altering a play in progress. This occurs when a spectator touches a player trying to execute a play, or reaches over the fence separating the field and the stands and touches a live ball. In these cases, the ball is dead and the umpire awards a base to any base runners who would have otherwise advanced without the interference. This is up to the umpire's discretion. In addition, the fan who committed the interference is often ejected from the stadium.


Obstruction occurs when a fielder, who does not have the ball or is not in the process of a fielding attempt, hinders the path of a base runner. This includes a fielder blocking a base or the catcher blocking home plate, when they are not in possession of the ball or in the middle of fielding the ball. The umpire determines whether or not a fielder is in the process of fielding the ball or not.

Offensive Interference

Offensive interference most often occurs when a runner or batter-runner intentionally tries to hinder the fielders' ability to field the ball and/or execute a defensive play. In cases of offensive interference, the ball becomes dead and the player who committed the interference is out. Other runners may be out as well, depending on the circumstance.

Defensive Interference

Defensive interference most often occurs when a fielder intentionally tries to hinder the batter's ability to hit a pitch. There are two types of defensive interference we will cover:

  1. Catcher's Interference
  2. Spectator Interference

Catcher's Interference

Catcher's interference occurs when the catcher makes contact with the batter during a pitch, and/or hinders the batter's ability to swing at a pitch. This can happen if the catcher is squatting too close to home plate, and his mitt touches the batter's bat. Catcher's interference results in a dead ball and the batter being awarded first base.

If a batter reaches first base due to a catcher's interference, his turn at home plate only counts as a plate appearance, not as an at-bat.

Batter Interference

There are lots of ways a batter can interfere with play in a baseball game. An example of batter interference is if the batter deflects the foul ball or if he hinders the catcher making a play at home plate.

Batter interference results in the batter being out and the base runners returning to base.

Umpire's Interference

One form of umpire's interference is when the home plate umpire hinders the catcher's ability to throw the ball, either to the pitcher or to a fielder in order to prevent a stolen base.

An umpire's interference in baseball is a situation in which the umpire's presence or action (not including any decisions or calls he makes) inadvertently affects the outcome and/or progress of a play. Usually occurs when the home plate umpire hinders the catcher's ability to throw the ball, either to the pitcher or to a fielder in order to prevent a stolen base. Also occurs when a fair ball accidentally touches an umpire before touching or passing a fielder.

Baseball Interference Chart

Here is a list of examples that would be called for interference in a baseball game along with the results.

ScenarioType of InterferenceResult
A manager, player, substitute, coach, distract the pitcher or make contact with the umpire.InterferenceThe person is removed from the game.
A fielder is in the batter's line of sight in an unsportsmanlike manner.Defensive InterferenceThe person is removed from the game.
A player purposely damages the ball.Defensive InterferenceOffensive InterferenceAutomatic suspension of 10 games.
Players hang out with spectators during the game.Interference
An offensive player interferes with a fielder trying to make a play.Offensive interferenceBase runners must return to the previous base, at the Umpire's discretion.
The plate umpire prevents the catcher from making a play such as a base runner stealing a base or throwing the ball back to the pitcher.Umpire interferencePrevious play is nullified.
A fielder interferes with the batter attempting to swing at a pitch.Defensive interference
A spectator goes onto the field during a game.Spectator interference
A spectator reaches out of the stands and touches a live ball.Spectator interference
A spectator touches a fielder on a play.Spectator interference
A thrown ball hits a base coach or umpire.Offensive InterferenceThe runner is called out if the base coach interferes with the ball.
The batter or base runner deliberately moves the ball on the field changing its direction.Batter/Runner InterferenceThe runner is called out.