Hands are part of what?

Without a doubt the most prevalent rule myth I hear is “hands are a part of the bat”. The argument is that if a batter is hit by a pitch on his hands, he does not get first base because the ball did not hit him, it hit his bat. Why did it hit his bat? Because the hands are part of the bat.

I have no idea why this myth exists. It is 100% false.

Rule 6.08(d) states a batter becomes a runner when he is touched by a pitched ball he is not trying to hit.

Further the definitions section defines TOUCH as

To touch a player or umpire is to touch any part of his body, his clothing
or his equipment.

It clearly says any part of his body. Last time I checked my hands were part of my body.

Now, for the stubborn out there that cannot be swayed by language, let’s sway them by looking at what happens in a game situation when the pitch hits a hand.

Our guide on this journey is Jeff Bagwell. Known for his odd batting stance and Hall of Fame numbers, Bagwell along with Craig Biggio terrorized National League pitching for the Astros in the ’90s and ’00s.

On August 10, 1994 Bagwell got hit by a pitch in a game. As this article points out the pitch actually broke his hand. What happened when he got in the hand – he got his base. The boxscore is available on baseball-reference.

Look at the play by play in the bottom of the third – Jeff Bagwell received his base.

Bagwell was having a monster year that season. The strike ended up cancelling the rest of the season after his injury and he was named MVP.

Why did I choose Bagwell when talking about this rule. Well, it happened to him in 1993. Check the play by play in the bottom of the 1st – he got his base. Unbelievably it also happened to him in 1995. Again, the play by play shows him getting a base.

Talk about bad luck to lose significant sections of three seasons on the same injury. At least his on base percentage improved after each of those at bats.

The ultimate lesson on this stroll down memory lane is don’t be one of those “hands is part of the bat” people. If the ball hits flesh, the batter gets his base (if he did not swing).

Hit by Pitch is covered on page 41 of RuleGraphics.

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