The Correct Call!

I am always in pursuit of the perfect game. Not as a pitcher striking out every batter. Not as a batter hitting for a cycle including a grand-slam home run. But as an umpire calling a perfect game, while handling every disputed call with poise and confidence.

MYTH - Hands are part of the bat!

MYTH - Hands are part of the bat!

Michael Leavitt 160APRIL 4, 2018 * MYTH - The hands are part of the bat

Yesterday afternoon the Varsity Coach asked, "But Blue, aren't her hands part of the bat?"

I responded, "No Ma'am. Since that young lady was born her hands have been part of her body. The pitch came right through the batter's box and struck her in the hands without her swinging. That is why she was awarded first base. If she had swung, then I would have called a dead ball strike."

"Uh, okay." And with that the coach turned and walked back to the dugout.

It amazes me that the long time myth, "Her hands are part of the bat," is still so prevalent amongst those experienced with the game.

UMPIRE IN COVER PHOTO: Paul Zalus - St. George 2/25/2017

MYTH, RULES, & RULINGS

For those wondering where the rules are covering this situation, let me share the following...

MYTH: The hands are considered part of the bat.

REALITY: If a batter is hit with a pitch on the hands without swinging, it is simply a dead ball and the batter is awarded first base. Remember that anytime a batter is hit, it is ALWAYS a dead ball. If the batter is swinging and the ball contacts her hands first, we have a DEAD BALL STRIKE.

NOTE: If the ball contacts the batter in the strike zone, it has the same result of being a dead ball strike. If it is the third strike in either of these cases, the batter is out.

USA SOFTBALL

7-4-H through L

SECTION 4 -A STRIKE ON THE BATTER

  • H. For each pitched ball swung at and missed which touches any part of the batter.
  • I. If a pitched ball is swung at, missed, and then hit on the follow through.
  • J. When any part of the batter's person or clothing is hit with a batted ball while the batter is in the batter's box and (FP) has fewer than two strikes.
  • K. When a legally pitched ball hits the batter while the ball is in the strike zone.
  • L. When a pitched ball is prevented from enering the strike zone by any actions of the batter other than hitting the ball.

EFFECT - Section 4H-L

  • 1) Dead ball.
  • 2) A strike on the batter.
  • 3) Each runner must return to the base occupied at the time of the pitch.

AND...

8-1-F

SECTION 8-1 THE BATTER BECOMES A BATTER-RUNNER

8-1-F.  (Fast Pitch) When a pitched ball, not swung at nor called a strike, touches any part of the batter's person including the hands or clothing. The batter's hands are not part of the bat.

EFFECT:

  • 1) The ball is dead.
  • 2) The batter is awarded first base.
  • EXCEPTION: If no attempt is made to avoid being hit, the batter will not be awarded first base unless it is ball four.

NFHS

7-2-1

RULE 7 BATTING SECTION 2 STRIKES, BALLS AND HITS

7-2-1 A strike is charged to the batter when: g. a pitched ball contacts the batter while swinging at the ball or the batter is hit by the pitch that is in the strike zone (dead ball strike).

AND...

8-1-2-b Penalty 2

RULE 8 BATTER-RUNNER AND BATTER SECTION 1 THE BATTER BECOMES A BATTER-RUNNER

ART 2. A batter is awarded first base when:

b. (F.P.) a pitched ball is entirely within the batter's box and it strikes the batter or her clothing. No attempt to avoid being hit by the pitch is required. However, the batter may not obviously try to get hit by the pitch.

8-1-2-b. PENALTIES (Art. 2) 2. If the batter is hit anywhere on the body, including on the hands, while swinging at a pitch, and hits the ball fair or foul, the ball is dead and a strike called. If it is strike three, the batter is out.

CAUTION

Whether you are behind the plate or out in the field, the biggest caution is to remember to kill the ball immediately when the ball comes off the hands. Invariably, the ball will go into play and everybody will run. If the batter is hit on ANY part of the body, then kill that ball.  If the plate ump is blocked and the field ump sees the contact, KILL THE BALL!!! Failure to do so will cause nothing but grief.  And when I say kill the ball, I mean come up really big with, "DEAD BALL!!!"

REAL LIFE FIASCO

Two weeks ago, a 6' tall islander girl was in the box with a 2-1 count.  She swung and the ball sounded different as it came off the bat, but the ground ball went towards the second baseman. The batter ran towards first and was put out on the routine play. The coach directed her back to the dugout and she ran all the way to the third base dugout from first base.  The next batter came into the box and took a pitch when I heard a wailing painful scream from the dugout. The assistant coach was pulling a batting glove off the prior batter's hand and her fingers were bloody... Great! This prior batter was bleeding from being struck on the hands when she hit the ball.  She gave no body language indications as she hit the ball and sped out of the box.  She gave no signs of anything unusual as she ran through first base and came back towards her coach. And then she ran back to her dugout showing no signs of anything unusual having happened.  But obviously, with two bleeding fingers less than a minute later with lots of pain and tears, we obviously missed it... And now that a pitch had been delivered, there was nothing that could be done. I bore the guilt, yet what could I have done?

  • 1) When I heard the sound of the hit being more of a thud, I could have continued on down towards first base looking for signs (But I did).
  • 2) If my partner had seen the hit off the hands, then he could have killed it (But he did not see it either).
  • 3) When the batter got to first I could have gone up to her and asked if she was hit on the hands. This method is not really defined or allowed by the rule book, but I knew something wasn't right.
  • 4) I could have just blamed the coach for not teaching his players to show physical signs when this type of play happens (But that is a cop out on my part).
  • 5) I need to remain better focused and be in tune with the sounds as well as the visuals when working behind the plate.

The part that bugged me most was the actual evidences did not reveal themselves until after a pitch had been delivered to the next batter. If I had seen or heard the wailing prior to the pitch to the next batter, then I would have set things right in the world and assessed the "Dead Ball Strike" and allowed either the batter, or her substitute to continue with what would have been a 2-2 count. Yes, I would have had to have a nice discussion with the defensive coach, but that is a conversation I could have easily dealt with. My indecisiveness in not immediately making the "dead ball" call, could be argued, but the later revealed facts would have supported my actions.

Make it a great day! Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah

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