Hit by the backswing

I received this question via the contact form on our website. If you have a question feel free to send one to me.

Q: A batter hit my catcher on his follow through, what is the call? – Kyle Edens

The answer is annoyingly “it depends”. First the easy part – if no runners are on base, then nothing is called. There can not be interference if there is no play to be had.

For the other part, it depends on the rule set.

For simplicity let’s assume there is a runner on first base who is stealing on the pitch. A batter contacts the catcher after he has completed his swing.

This clip does a good job of showing the situation:

In professional baseball, you send the runner back to first and the batter is not out. It is pretty close to a do-over. The umpire in this clip made the correct call (of course he did, he is a pro).

A comment in rule 6.06(c) covers this:

If a batter strikes at a ball and misses and swings so hard he carries the bat all the way around and, in the umpire’s judgment, unintentionally hits the catcher or the ball in back of him on the backswing, it shall be called a strike only (not interference). The ball will be dead, however, and no runner shall advance on the play.

In high school, this play is called interference. The batter is out and all runners return.

Rule 7-3-5 (c):

A batter shall not:

ART. 5 . . . Interfere with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by:

c. making any other movement, including follow-through interference, which hinders actions at home plate or the catcher’s attempt to play on a runner

This play has been a point of emphasis for high school rules over the last few seasons.

Batter interference with the catcher is covered on page 42 of RuleGraphics.


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