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Wild Throw by a Fielder
The Major League Official Baseball Rules, followed by the Atlantic League, states the following in Rule 7.05(g):
Each runner including the batter runner may, without liability to be put out, advance two bases when, with no spectators on the playing field, a thrown ball goes into the stands, or into a bench (whether or not the ball rebounds into the field), or over or under or through a field fence, or on a slanting part of the screen above the backstop, or remains in the meshes of a wire screen protecting spectators. The ball is dead. When such wild throw is the first play by an infielder, the umpire, in awarding such bases, shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the ball was pitched; in all other cases the umpire shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the wild throw was made.
APPROVED RULING: If all runners, including the batter runner, have advanced at least one base when an infielder makes a wild throw on the first play after the pitch, the award shall be governed by the position of the runners when the wild throw was made.
In certain circumstances it is impossible to award a runner two bases. Example: Runner on first. Batter hits fly to short right. Runner holds up between first and second and batter comes around first and pulls up behind him. Ball falls safely. Outfielder, in throwing to first, throws ball into stand.
APPROVED RULING: Since no runner, when the ball is dead, may advance beyond the base to which he is entitled, the runner originally on first base goes to third base and the batter is held at second base.
The term "when the wild throw was made" means when the throw actually left the player's hand and not when the thrown ball hit the ground, passes a receiving fielder or goes out of play into the stands.
The position of the batter runner at the time the wild throw left the thrower's hand is the key in deciding the award of bases.
If the batter runner has not reached first base, the award is two bases at the time the pitch was made for all runners. The decision as to whether the batter runner has reached first base before the throw is a judgment call.
If an unusual play arises where a first throw by an infielder goes into stands or dugout but the batter did not become a runner (such as catcher throwing ball into stands in attempt to get runner from third trying to score on passed ball or wild pitch) award of two bases shall be from the position of the runners at the time of the throw.
(For the purpose of Rule 7.05 (g) a catcher is considered an infielder.)
PLAY. Runner on first base, batter hits a ball to the shortstop, who throws to second base too late to get runner at second, and second baseman throws toward first base after batter has crossed first base. Ruling Runner at second scores. (On this play, only if batter runner is past first base when throw is made is he awarded third base.)
This rule is referenced by the notes to game 85 of the 2003 season.
These rules are
quoted directly from the
Major League Official Baseball Rules, which “govern the playing of
baseball games by professional teams of the American League of Professional
Baseball Clubs, the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, and the
leagues which are members of the National Association of Professional Baseball