Catcher Brain Freeze

Often when reading the rules, I gloss over certain ones thinking “no way this will happen in a game”.

Prime example are the rules covering detached player equipment. Rule 7.05 (a-e) outlines the penalties for touching a ball with detached equipment. They are as follows:

  • 4 bases if the ball is over the fence
  • 3 bases for a batted ball
  • 2 for a thrown ball
  • 1 for a pitch – this one is not in there but is covered by interpretation manuals

When thinking of detached equipment the mind races to either a) catching the ball in a hat or b) throwing a glove at the ball. Both are illegal – so I am sorry to say that Madonna’s catch in A League of Their Own would have resulted in three bases along with some crying in baseball.

Even though those two instances are the first to come to mind, it is not actually the one that happens most often at the major league level.

Check out this box score from a game in 2010 between Seattle and Oakland.  A play in the 8th inning is described as this “Double/Bunt (Bunt to Weak 3B); Buck to 3B”. Seems harmless enough except it was not really a bunt double.

The catcher actually scooped up a rolling ball with his mask. An account of the incident is here. Yes, most of the time when I see this infraction it involves the catcher using his recently removed mask to touch a ball.

By now astute readers have read the description of the play, seen the outcome in the box score, and re-read the penalties above and realized something is not jiving. Touching a batted ball with detached equipment should be a 3 base award. I honestly don’t know what happened that night, but if I am on the field the batter gets 3rd. I would probably get a pretty heated discussion with a coach as well.

Detached equipment is covered on page 33 of RuleGraphics.

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